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R&B Combo Social Set to 'Celebrate' Debut EP on Frenchmen

A dimly lit bar sets the mood for newly formed R&B quintet Social Set's first video, its slightly blurred patrons all smiles and joy. “Ridiculous” is the “Just Got Paid” for a new generation, following an unlucky protagonist who is determined not to let any small mishaps get in the way of a good time.


The song name checks New Orleans' rowdier bars (Snake and Jake's and Miss Mae's) as effortlessly as its seamless breakdown builds on that boozy energy, swirling sax trills through crashing drums and amped up keys.


If that opening track to Social Set's debut EP is significant of anything, it's their highly refined sound, which Social Set marks as a particular point of pride given their young status.


“[Social Set] is a recently formed project but it doesn't sound like it to me, given our background,” says frontwoman Kathryn Rose Wood. Wood first met the musicians who would help form Social Set at Loyola. That shared link aids greatly to the band's musical chemistry


“Loyola, like the city that it's in, functions like a community. There's always that competitive aspect but everyone understands that no one's going to get anywhere unless they help each other,” explains keyboardist Emmanuel Catanzariti, “Ironically, with the exception of Kathryn [Rose Wood], I'd played with all the other members in this band, so it was really easy to get into a groove.”


The five-piece initially began to take shape after Wood was asked to play a benefit show after gaining recognition at The Plus One Show at Carrollton Station, which takes one musician with one song and keeps adding from there.


“It gets to a point where you're playing five songs with five different people,” says Wood, who was asked by a friend to play some of her acoustic songs at the semi-open mic event.


After assembling her initial line-up for that benefit performance, “it became more than just some tunes I'd been writing,” Wood continues.


Celebrate drops as more of a release to test the waters, showcasing Social Set's strongest songs out of many more within their roster of more than twenty. Such a prolific catalog came from doing weekly gigs on Frenchmen; gigs that stretched for three hour intervals or longer.


“We'd be churning out as many songs as possible and we'd also play a handful of covers,” says Woods, “'I Need More Love' by Robert Randolph, we love. We also do some newer stuff like Blackstreet's 'No Diggity'. It's kinda silly but a lot of fun.”


The band's first single to come out of their five song EP is the evocative “Voodoo”. The track starts off with Wood's untamed vocals casting an ethereal spell on all who listen. The fervor dies down, becoming more polished and honed as the song progresses, adding dashes of saxophone and keys to the musical mix. “Voodoo” clearly samples from the broad range of subjects around the Crescent City, yet stands as a more universal incantation of love.


“Lyrically, some of it is that typical romance but some of it is trying to reach beyond that to a bigger message,” Wood explains, “I have a background in music therapy. Music is very therapeutic and I think that one of the goals is if you're going to make music, why not try to really connect with the listener?”


Wood and drummer Brian Fleischer both work as music therapists, with Fleischer teaching drums at the New Orleans Academy of Music. Wood also teaches guitar and piano at the Jewish Community Center. All five members are Loyola alumni and many have their hands in other musical projects as well. Their unique experiences and backgrounds contribute heavily to the Social Set sound.


“It's very eclectic in some ways. Like, I have a background in jazz piano but I don't really play jazz anymore. I feel like that aspectis always going to be present because I played it so much though,” Catanzariti says, “And really, just funk and blues. It's difficult to put my finger on what you could compare us to and I guess that's a positive thing. There are dynamics to every song comparatively to other songs.”


Those diverse tracks will be on full display at Social Set's EP release party Thursday, January 31 at Maison's Penthouse.


“We're more of a live band,” Catanzariti explains, “With the EP we're trying to capture the energy that comes with that live sound, wherepeople aren't necessarily sitting in their seats when they're listening to music. We want to try to get people to get up and move. Music makes you feel good but that doesn't necessarily make us a feel good band. We try to make a distinction between the two. We're trying to transcend the boundary of convenience while still trying to maintain that fun-loving aspect.”


Expect quite a few surprises from Social Set's celebratory performance, including another cover in the works. “We also have another tune,” Wood says excitedly, “The bands playing with us are gonna jam with us. It's gonna be a big party.”

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