Benefit for Dru Barnes: The Adversary
Cole WIlliams, Hani Zahra
289 Kent Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
Doors 8:30 PM
This event is 21 and over
Andre Mistier’s journey through music has been an unconventional one. The New York musician, who has a foundation in theater, has explored the connection between electronic sounds and instrument-based rock since the inception of his first band Ism in 2004. In 2008, as his tenure with Ism was drawing to a close, Mistier began working on film soundtracks and theater scores, his first musical efforts done solo. The work was deeply compelling to the artist and he found himself moving into the sonic territory that became his new project, The Adversary. The music itself morphed, influenced by Mistier’s life and his personal experiences. “The Adversary’s music went through a whole bunch of iterations,” Mistier explains. “I was exploring a lot of things. I went to Burning Man last August and it affected my understanding of music, and the relationship between electronic stuff and live stuff and then—I got here.”
Here, which is being heralded by Chapter 1: The Ruins, the first in a series of releases that offer an ongoing narrative, is richly melodic and song-based and yet experimental and electronic. The series, recorded over a year and a half at Majestic Music in Williamsburg, was written and recorded almost entirely by Mistier, who brought in a few guest musicians to flesh out the songs. Throughout the process Mistier found himself interested in the spectrum of modern sound and what that can mean in the context of a song.
“There’s a certain honesty about acknowledging that the full range of sounds in our modern world includes everything from the human voice and birds chirping to the bleep of a cellphone and this mix is how we define our relationship to the world with sound,” the musician says. “In these Chapters, I was very interested in finding ways to deal with both this whole spectrum and to make sounds that were kind of hybrids. You can take a vocal, record it, run it through 45 filters, cut it up, run it through a bunch of filters again, and then it sounds like a drum or a synthesizer or whatever noise you like. That’s part of the basis for this.”
Embedded in these sounds is a story, one that comes together both in the songs and in a series of accompanying videos. The first chapter takes the listener to a post-apocalyptic world, recounting a tale of two people dancing through the ruins of New York, [and the failing surveillance system, which tries to monitor them. The pair finds, through the course of the songs, that with all the structures of society gone, there are actually more freedoms to be found. It’s one piece of a larger whole that Mistier feels will slowly come together as the chapters are released.
“It’s an exploration of our modern relationship to technology and human-ness,” Mistier says. “To me, it’s one of the big issues we’re all grappling with, or at some point have to grapple with. Does technology lose humanity? Does technology facilitate humanity? And clearly, it’s kind of doing both. I’m really interested in exploring that process and setting it in a not-present-day context makes it easy to extrapolate how far it can and can’t go.”
The accompanying videos and forthcoming live show will lend a visual aesthetic to this ongoing narrative, clearly inspired by Mistier’s work in theater over the years. Each chapter will feature one video that connects to a specific song – for Chapter 1: The Ruins, that track is “Maybelline.” The clips don’t just reflect the songs; they augment them, offering the audience a chance to fill in the pieces of the story left open in the Chapters. The live show, too, will extend the experience of the music, providing a visual spectacle related to the narrative. The music, melodic and relatable although experimental and exploratory in nature, reveals itself more fully through these visual elements. Those familiar with Mistier’s work, both musical and otherwise, may not be surprised that his journey has brought him here, to this place of solo, multimedia expression.
“I feel like there’s two main experiences you’re getting out of music as a writer,” Mistier says. “One is this beautiful collaboration. And the other is sound painting. And the solo process to me is very much like painting, but like four-dimensional painting. Painting with time. At any given moment there’s all these different sounds going on and they function like colors. But also it moves through the duration of a song and changes and contours as it goes. I’ve found that process really rewarding and it’s taken me to where I am today. And now I’m looking forward to bringing these two pieces of the musical experience together with the live version of The Adversary.”
“I am reminiscent of a time when music spoke beyond the surface,” says Brooklyn’s highly fashionable songwriter, composer, producer and artist extraordinaire Cole Williams. On the surface, Cole presents herself as a striking songbird that you can’t take your eyes off of. Below though, unafraid of being vulnerable or naked in her music, Cole is quickly building her creative empire.
Cole Williams kicked off this year with the release of multiple singles and music videos, as well as a successful tour throughout France. She then hooked up with hip hop duo Chiddy Bang to offer some powerful female vocals on their single “Ray Charles,” and followed that up with live performances on national TV including Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Wendy Williams.
Next on her agenda, Cole Williams will independently release a limited-edition, double EP titled, Out of the Basement, Out of the Box on May 8, 2012. The album, co-produced by Josh Valleau and Cole Williams, includes the tracks from her 2011 soul/reggae/rock EP Out of the Basement Part I, plus a new collection of songs showcasing her pop and R&B roots.
Cole Williams has also lent her vocals both on stage and in the studio to other notable artists including Melinda Doolittle, Diane Birch, Joss Stone, Little Jackie and Neurotic Drum Band. Her 2006 Swedish Grammy nomination for Best Live Performance (with Glenn Wish and The New Memphis Orchestra) skyrocketed her commercial voiceover work, which she now does for Suave, CoverGirl and JC Penny, among others.
Cole’s voice is not her only representation in the media. Her love for vintage shopping and brilliant eye for color combinations, textures and cuts have gotten her spotted on the street and pulled in for fashion photo shoots with such designers as Elyvette, Makabu and KALYSSCOLORS, and for publications like Italian Vogue and Suavv Magazine.
Regular performances and residencies with her two bands, That’sMyCole and People’s Champs, at New York City hotspots including Pianos, RBar and Asellina, prove that Cole Williams is a small package with a big live presence.
Raised in the Little West Indies of Brooklyn, NY as the only child of a Jamaican mother and Bed Stuy-native father, Cole treated the records in her living room like siblings. She played, fought, admired, questioned and loved Bob Marley, The Beatles, Mighty Sparrow, Jackson 5, Motown and Dancehall Reggae. Today, with every project Cole touches you can hear the eclectic mix of genres that dance around in her head.
Cole Williams is the pioneer’s soul mate; the anthem for some and the voice for others. “I keep it real in every lyric, musical line and inflection,” she says. And what’s the appeal for the empowered listener? “I don’t write a lot of syrupy love songs because I’m from Brooklyn; I don’t believe in that shit.”
HANI ZAHRA is a five-piece band from Brooklyn, NY. Their sound has been categorized as indie psychedelic pop and is unique in their use of keyboards, synthesizers and traditional vocal harmonies.
The self-titled EP was released May 2012 and their debut full-length album is out now and streaming on Spotify, Bandcamp, and hanizahra.com.