Imperial Boxmen is a band led by keyboardist and producer Kevin Ford. The band's music is a fusion of various genres including downtempo, jazz, funk, Afrobeat, and the Ethiopian sound of the 1970s. The band originally started as a niche acid jazz trio in Chicago, consisting of Ford, Alex Austin, and Noah Plotkin. Their early focus was on recreating the songs sampled in 90s hip hop.
Over time, Ford's musical influences expanded to include Afrobeat and the sound of the Ethiopiques movement. He gained experience working and performing with renowned drummer Tony Allen, who was known for his work with Fela Kuti, as well as collaborating with the Chicago Afrobeat Project. Ford's background as an electronic music producer and downtempo DJ also adds a unique element to the band's sound.
Imperial Boxmen features a talented lineup of Chicago musicians, including Alex Austin on bass, Noah Plotkin with his authentic 70s drumming style, and the rhythmic virtuosity of percussionists Jonathon Marks and Danjuma Gaskin. The band came together during a time when live music was mostly on hiatus in 2020 and convened at Ford's recording studio to create a surreal and introspective musical journey, reflecting their collective consciousness.