Filter Magazine's Culture Collide 2013 with Miami Horror + more
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Filter Magazine's Culture Collide 2013
After years in the making here at last is Illumination, the fully realized debut album from Australia's favourite psychedelic indie-electronic adventurers Miami Horror. With Illumination, Miami Horror has delivered on the promise of two years of teeth-cutting live shows and an ever escalating wave of buzz that's made the group bonafide blog darlings the world over. But what's most amazing about the grand arrival of Illumination is that the roots of the record stretch back countless moons to when Miami Horror began as just one synthesizer-obsessed producer huddled over a laptop in a bedroom-come-studio and the album itself just a spark waiting to be lit.
Kick started by Ben Plant, Miami Horror was created out of a love of Roland keyboards and French house, landing the young producer on everyone's radar overnight with a slew of sharp remixes and productions in his arsenal. Yet it was while Ben was punching out 2008's epochal Bravado EP that Miami Horror took off in a completely new and different direction thanks to the recruitment of Josh Moriarty, the wiry guitarist and dexterous vocalist that would become Miami Horror's powerhouse frontman. Together the two cut the lushly organic summer jam Sometimes with Josh on croon duties and the idea to drastically alter Miami Horror's genetic makeup into a crowd-swelling live entity was born.
"It started out that I didn't want to have any guitar on the album besides a little funk guitar or disco bass," Ben grins while explaining the turning point for Miami Horror's evolution. "But then Josh came in and started playing all these other parts that sounded amazing. Paired with what I was working on, nobody was doing anything like it, so I knew we had to turn those sounds into a live thing and just go wild."
With Ben and Josh wanting to flex their creative muscles and avoid the limitations of being stereotyped as simply a dance or electro act, the pair rewired Miami Horror's future, deputising two new talents with Dan Whitechurch taking up the keys and drummer and co-production whiz Aaron Shanahan completing Miami Horror's live transformation.
Since the switch Miami Horror has launched into dizzying new stratospheres, their well-polished chops as a live group making for some unmissable sets at Australia's biggest festivals leading to sell-out shows in Rio, Mexico City, New York and Los Angeles – the latter of which Miami Horror will call home when they relocate in September '11.
"I think we have a lot of energy live and people seem to really resonate with it," Josh explains of Miami Horror's live allure. "I've always been disappointed by that side of electronic music that's just two guys behind computers triggering samples with no connection with an audience. This is a real live rock band. I just want to excite people and make them have a great time at our shows," he adds when quizzed on his firebrand onstage persona. "People have, and always will love showmanship and it's something I always try to add to the performance."
All this time Ben had been further noodling away at Miami Horror's long-awaited debut disc and with the vision for a fully-blown and creatively shared band now fulfilled Miami Horror was able to pour all of their energy into Illumination, the record that's taken Miami Horror years to perfect and Ben a whole lifetime to get right.
Bunkering down in Ben's own studio in Melbourne, Illumination was recorded in typical Miami Horror fashion with the band opening themselves up to new styles and approaches which saw them call in a cast of guest stars including Swedish singer MAI, Melbourne based chanteuse Kimbra, Dappled Cities' wordsmith Tim Derricourt for a lyrical assist and also Neon Indian and Vega prodigy Alan Palomo who flew out from the US to add his distinctive haze to multiple tunes.
As well as crafting a truly classic album that begs to be consumed from beginning to end to fully uncover all the layers and engrossing sonic textures of each tune, Ben says the aim with Illumination was to present an accurate portrait of the band's current core and not make things too "glossy" and "hi-fi", with Ben himself producing and engineering the album from the confines of his bedroom.
As such, listening to Illumination is like a guided tour of Miami Horror's combined minds, with enormous flying grooves gliding through the speakers alongside nods to the deities of French house and vintage synth explorers like Giorgio Moroder and Jan Hammer, all mixed and muddled up with slabs of melting, fuzzy psychedelica, some wandering kraut rock bass-lines, enough star-gazing hooks to make Electric Light Orchestra blush, plenty of ear-catching pop swagger and Ben's own studied cinematic aesthetics. Never content to stand still, Miami Horror ambitiously test their boundaries across the album, experimenting with lush, almost chillwave instrumentals (see the gorgeous Infinite Canyons), futuristic disco gems (I Look To You), summer-bound party jams (Holidays) and anthem-sized synth epics (Sometimes).
Although all four members of the band admit to a serious case of perfectionism with months spent, refining, tweaking and endlessly perfecting Illumination, Ben explains the process was worth the time and energy invested. "We spent about ten months alone mixing the album, which is a process that should normally take two weeks," Ben laughs. "We always just said 'f**k it, we have to make the album that we want to make' and this is it. We made it."
Yes, this is their moment. And though it seemed like an electro-dreamer's distant fantasy four years ago, Miami Horror's same excited sense of wonder has only ballooned from then to now. If you haven't already heard the gospel, expect to be converted to the cause any second now.
Mystery Skulls is really the nom de plume of Los Angeles based electronic artist Luis Dubuc. Formerly from Dallas, Texas, Dubuc sounds like Prince fronting Daft Punk, mixing his inspirations of '90's R&B and New Jack Swing with EDM music and futuristic sounds. Beyond Mystery Skulls, Dubuc is an active songwriter, producer and remixer, working with a wide range of genres and styles.
Gemini Club is Dan Brunelle, Tom Gavin and Gordon Bramli, a three-piece indie-electronic dance band from Chicago, Illinois. Their unique live shows have been tearing up the scene for the last two years. Far from the conventional live performance, Gemini Club have a specially designed rig that allows for on-the-fly remixing of their own songs meaning each Gemini Club show is different from the last. This has resulted in them being asked to the support the likes of Chromeo, A-Trak, Two Door Cinema Club, Flosstradamus, Dj Falcon and Chateau Marmont.
Their first single, Ghost "Ghost" came out hot in the blogosphere, which has resulted in remixes from Hey Champ, Barretso, Golden Bug and Only Children. The track has also been picked up for air play from BBC Radio 1's tastemaker show "In New DJs We Trust."
From the mid-west to the Orient, Gemini Club's own remix chops are in demand online and across the globe. Their remix for Australian band The Vanish went straight into the top ten of Hype Machine's charts. The band's spin on "Cold Dust Girl" entered the same top ten charts on five different occasions within a month - and their remix for Shinichi Osawa has been a mainstay on the iTunes dance charts in Japan. Most recently, the gents of GC's remix of Chilly Gonzales premiered on the RCRD LBL blog as the most downloaded track of the week.
In 1999 Heather and I started our musical collaboration which would eventually be known as BAGHEERA. We lived in an apartment that we suspected was haunted, in a sleepy tree-filled neighborhood in Saint Louis. At the time we were both playing music in other bands, Heather was playing guitar and singing for Climber and I was almost always on tour as the drummer for MU330. When I was home, we would stay up late into the night playing songs for each other, and for whatever ghosts happened to be hanging out there in trans-dimensional limbo. With softly strummed acoustic guitars and our intertwined voices we quickly built a collection of compositions that reflected our abstracted curiosity in the surreal, science, love, nature and space! I eventually bought a four-track tape machine and we started to experiment with the art of recording music....
..As time moved forward, as it does in this universe anyway, we kept tinkering with our recordings and expanding our sound to include brashy drums, fuzz tones, thrift store keyboard noise and lots of stereo effects, while maintaining our core sound of boy / girl harmonies and Heather's odd chord progressions. We finished our first demo CD in 2002 right about the time we were married........
In 2003 we started recording our first proper "studio" album at Hyperspace with Lance Reynolds at the helm. The term "studio" here doesn't really fit the conventional implication. While most of the tracks were captured onto a 24-track 2-inch magnetic tape machine, the performances took place in basements, attics, bedrooms, closets and living rooms in various locations around Springfield, Chicago, and Saint Louis. The album "twelves" was released on Asian Man Records in 2004. We continued to tour around the midwest and eventually made it to the U.K. where we played two festivals and several pub shows. When we returned to the States we soon went on a live performance hiatus.
In 2006 we started working on our studio and began writing and recording material for two albums.
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