Proudly displayed on Brooklyn-based hip-hop/punk band Shinobi Ninja’s MySpace is this excerpt from a review by Radio Exile’s Dan Berkman:
“To put it simply, they are a walking, breathing and screaming cartoon: Loud, colorful and full of enough energy to put nearly any other band to shame.”
In a phone interview with four of Shinobi Ninja’s six members following the band’s Entertainment Council-sponsored performance on the UC Davis Quad on Oct. 4, vocalist Baby Girl didn’t hesitate to put Berkman’s words into context.
“I know exactly what that means!” Baby Girl (sometimes referred to as Baby G) said. “That means we are a live cartoon, right in front of your face – pow, boom, pang! We’re just that animated and that fun and that energetic and colorful.”
In addition to vocalist and dancer Baby G, Shinobi Ninja is made up of twin brothers “Maniac” Mike and “Terminator” Dave Machinist, who play guitar and drums, respectively, vocalist DA, bassist Jonny on the Rocks and a DJ called DJ Axis.
Shinobi Ninja got its start at Progressive Studios in Hell’s Kitchen of New York City, DA said. Though they each had different areas of expertise, each member frequented the studio. Through various musical collaborations, they found they enjoyed making music together and combining their unique talents.
“We took our closest friends from that one space, the coolest people that we knew, and just put it together as a band,” DA said. “We all used to play in each other’s bands.”
DJ Axis said each member works hard to contribute his or her own specialties to the band’s overall success.
“Everyone is already a professional in the music industry. Baby G is a hip-hop dancer so she already has that stage presence. I’m a club DJ so I can get the crowd amped up. Jonny is a singer-songwriter. Dave, our drummer, is a business guy so he helps to work with the management,” he said. “We take care of everything within the whole team. It just makes a really broad but a really complete package at the same time.”
Jonny on the Rocks said the performance at UC Davis, the band’s first in California, was a success.
“It’s always just a little bit stressful before the show. But at the end of the day we were able to play a full set in front of college students at one of the most laid-back schools I think I’ve ever been to so I had a great time,” he said.
Even though the band has to tone down its party-atmosphere vibe when it plays for college audiences, Jonny said performances like the one at UC Davis are a valuable way to connect with Shinobi Ninja’s die-hard fans.
“They may not be the people who buy the most records but at the end of the day these are the people who will enjoy our music the most,” he said. “It really benefits us to play directly in front of college kids. Those are the kids that are having fun and partying and listening to hip-hop and rock music.”
Though the band has yet to release a full-length album, Shinobi Ninja’s songs, including “Brooklyn to Babylon,” “Rock Hood” and “Blaow!” have received thousands of hits on YouTube and are available to download on the band’s website.
The band also released an iPhone, iPod and iPad application called “Shinobi Ninja Attacks!” In the game, players become a member of the band and must overcome obstacles as the band makes its way to a gig at “Club Babylon.” Once the game has been completed successfully, players may download six songs.
“If you’ve seen the movie Spinal Tap, it’s like there’s always something, like a roadblock,” Baby Girl said. “Like, you get to the show, and whoa, we need four mics and there’s only one. There’s always something crazy. So we just put that in the game. It’s fun.”
Baby Girl said Shinobi Ninja prides itself on its distinctive style, and embraced the band’s “cartoonish” reputation.
“We walk through the door and we’re not ordinary,” she said. “Yeah, I’ve got this kind of swag and I wear these kinds of clothes and I slick my hair back. We come through the door and everyone looks at us like, is there really a cartoon onstage?”
For more information or to download songs by Shinobi Ninja, go to the iTunes store or the band’s MySpace, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube accounts.
ROBIN MIGDOL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.