Archive for February, 2013

Kendra Ray – Bellydance Evolved and the Power of Music

Produced by my good friends at Small World Music Society in Toronto, Ontario. Here is some insight to who I am as an artist and what I strive to represent through my work.

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Alt-J : Concocting Folk-Step

On an average search-youtube-for-new-music day, I saw an intriguing thumbnail in the suggested video list on the side of the page. Not knowing the band, I clicked on the link based solely on this cinematic high-quality thumbnail reminiscent of a page out of a fine art magazine.

As the video began, what my ears were hearing and what my eyes were seeing was so far in contrast to one another I had to pause the video to see if I had accidentally opened two videos at once. Nope, this was just a product of the up-and-coming band: Alt-J. Here is the video that said it all:

Creating what has become known as folk-step, this group hailing from the U.K. combines an array of sounds into one modernized mash-up that somehow, surprisingly, works. Even if I’m not entirely sure what the vocalist is saying most of the time.

With folk harmonies similar to that of Simon and Garfunkel, delivered like Devendra Banhart mixed with Mumford and Sons, and backed by a fresh combination of live instruments, electronica samples, and a beat worthy of a hip-hop song – these musicians utilize elements found in musical composition both old and new. To top it off, they create cinema quality videos to showcase their songs which will surely assist in their recognition world-wide.

To further understand the inception of the band, here is an excerpt from their facebook page:

alt-J (∆)’s name takes a little explaining. Pronounced “alt-J”, the delta sign is created when you hold down the alt key on your computer keyboard and punch ‘J’ on a Mac computer. The symbol has a deeper meaning for the band, as guitarist/bassist Gwil Sainsbury notes, “in mathematical equations it’s used to show change,” and the band’s relatively new name came at a turning point in their lives.

Gwil, Joe Newman [guitar/vocals], Gus Unger-Hamilton [keyboards] and Thom Green [drums] met at Leeds University in 2007. Gus studied English Literature; the other three Fine Art. In their second year of studies, Joe played Gwil a handful of his own songs inspired by his guitar-playing dad and hallucinogens, and the pair began recording in their dorm rooms with Gwil acting as producer on Garageband.

Needless to say, the response to Joe’s hushed falsetto yelps and Gwil’s rudimentary sampling skills was good. When Thom was played the tracks he joined the band straight away. “I hadn’t heard anything like it,” he says. “It was music I was looking for, I just didn’t know I was. I just loved it.”
Gus completed the band’s lineup and together – first as Daljit Dhaliwal and then as Films – the four friends spent the next two years playing around town, developing a precise and unique brand of alt. pop that draws on poignant folk verses, crushing synths, smart hip hop syncopations and tight vocal harmonies. They dropped the moniker of Films in 2007, largely to avoid confusing the band with Californian punk troupe The Films. alt-J (∆) gave them a unique name to go with the unique ‘folk-step’ that they now concoct in the basement of a terrace house in Cambridgeshire.

I’ll leave you all with a nice live performance by Alt-J so you can see how their sound is created first hand. Here they are performing in the studio at Los Angeles-based public radio station, KCRW :

Be sure to stick around until at least 0:27 in the video where the bass drops. Then, it will all come together.

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