Interview: Black Pumas on their GRAMMY nominations, “Colors” and busking beginnings

Black Pumas band

Black Pumas released their debut album in 2019, just two years after the band’s formation. They have since become four-time GRAMMY nominees and performers. And then there was that small matter of being invited to play at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, and having their music featured in a Super Bowl ad. Their rise has been astronomical, but they have yet to really break Australian shores. But, that could all be about to change.

Formed when, on a friend’s recommendation, guitarist Adrian Quesada left lead singer and, at the time, busker Eric Burton, a voicemail. It was from there that the unlikely pair began the creation of Black Pumas’ iconic psych-roots sound. And it was this sound that surprised them with their first GRAMMY nod at the 2020 awards for Best New Artist, up against the likes of Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Yola, Maggie Rogers, and Rosalia.

We sat down shortly after this year’s award show to discuss their hit single “Colors“, their rapid success and the reality of creating a band as mere strangers.

Despite such unlikely beginnings, the pair found that they gelled together creatively almost immediately. Adrian says: “There was a little bit of a sonic stamp already, before I met Eric, and it still turned out that everything he wrote fit like a glove with it […] that was kinda the serendipity of it all, y’know?”

It’s evident from our chat that whilst they have experienced massive success, they are still very grounded in the music. They might not have taken home the GRAMMY but, as Adrian noted, “My GRAMMY would be here if I had [won] it, but at the end of the day, […] coming from that point to create any sort of art is just kinda lame, I think. The most important thing is that we’re feeling it, and other people are feeling it.”

Eric is certainly on the same page: “we’re just trying to be real, we want to be real,” He’s also still coming to grips with their relatively meteoric rise: “When busking, I used to play “Colors”, and people would just walk by, and now people want to pay me a lot of money to sing it.” And he’s pinching himself at some of the recent experiences: “I had to do an interview with Ringo Starr – I can’t believe it.”

Watch the full interview here:

Black Pumas Deluxe Edition is out now. Keep up to date with the Black Pumas HERE.

Main image credit: Lyza Renee

Tait McGregor