Tag Archives: Music

The power of bass

By Jeremy Rick

Quality lighting 300ppi(1)Through their synthesis of music, movement, and art, the co-founders of Sacred Bass Sessions have created an up-and-coming series of social gatherings in Bellingham.

“The key to the success of Sacred Bass Sessions is pulling together a lot of different communities,” co-founder Christian Martin said.

Their most recent event was a Feb. 14 gathering to celebrate Valentine’s Day, titled “Heartbeat.” The event consisted of a group yoga session, live painting exhibitions, acoustic and electronic music performances, and a belly dance performance. It was hosted by Presence Studio, a space located in downtown Bellingham above Bellingham Bar and Grill.

Sacred Bass Sessions “sprung from the brains and dreams of two people,” Martin said. “I dreamed up the concept and went to Erik, who had the ‘know-how.’”

Martin said that he and his fellow co-founder Erik Moore first met at the 2007 Burning Man music festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada.

Martin volunteered to help Moore construct a 40-foot-tall pyramid out of recycled billboard vinyl as an art installation for the festival.

The duo began collaborating on their productions in November of last year with a Thanksgiving-themed event celebrating abundance, Martin said. Heartbeat was their third event, and their fourth, called “Balance,” is planned for March 21 during the spring equinox.

“I had a vision of music and yoga and live painting,” Martin said. “Erik has helped make the dreams in my head become a reality.”

To begin Heartbeat, Melissa Longfellow, director of 3 Oms Yoga in Bellingham, led a group yoga session accompanied by an electronic music performance by DJ Hyfi, a nomadic musician who has played for yoga festivals around the U.S., Martin said.

Following the yoga session, singer-guitarists Benjie Howard and Gentri Watson gave an acoustic performance.

An electronic DJ known as Drumspyder took the stage with his laptop and drum set after Howard and Watson finished. The incandescent lighting was dimmed, colored lights were projected around the room, and the sound system’s volume was turned up.

“We try to find DJs who mix live instruments with their electronic music,” Martin said, rather than mainstream house music or techno artists who rely solely on electronic devices.

Drumspyder’s “combination of electronic and acoustic instruments creates a type of sound that seems to carry the group through space and time in a unique way,” said Johann Rainey, who attended the event. “[His] sound is very ‘psychedelic tribal dance.’ It has a raw bass beat that allows you to break into a primal state of being and emotion.”

While the audience did yoga and danced to musical performances, Bill Ball, a local artist, was busy creating a new painting on a canvas near the stage. Ball exhibited his “sustainable paintings,” which were done on pieces of cardboard boxes, he said. He also showed interested audience members some of his personal techniques.

“The art, music, and dancing of the event were all very unique to Bellingham’s social scene, and I’m excited to see what they do next,” Rainey said.

Sacred Bass Sessions’ March 21 event, Balance, will feature Plantrae, a DJ “who plays violin on top of his electronic music. It is a very beautiful and moving blend of beats and classical music,” Martin said.

Balance will also feature Swil Kanim, a Lummi Native who specializes in storytelling.

“Sacred Bass is a cross-pollination of sub communities,” Martin said. “It’s neat because it’s exposing a lot of different groups to each other.”

Amanda Walsh, a former Whatcom Community College student who attended Heartbeat, said, “It’s a community atmosphere. If you don’t know anybody at a bar, you could be standing alone. Here you could walk up to anyone and strike up a conversation or dance with them.”

“The environment is way more welcoming than the bars,” said Kaylee Wiebe, who also attended the Heartbeat session. “It really deters anyone from judgment. We’re just here to have a good time.”

“These events feel ‘sacred’ because they create a sense of unity among the participants,” Rainey said. “It’s a very spiritual experience.”

The events are open to anyone ages 18 and over. For more information on Sacred Bass Sessions, visit www.sacredbass.org.

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The truth about Fictions

By Zach Barlow

Whatcom librarian Erik Wallace poses before Fictions' recent show at the Underground Coffeehouse on Western Washington University's campus. Photo by Zach Barlow.
Whatcom librarian Erik Wallace poses before Fictions’ recent show at the Underground Coffeehouse on Western Washington University’s campus. Photo by Zach Barlow.

Former Whatcom Community College student Erik Wallace, 24, is a man of many faces. During the day he can be found in Whatcom’s library where he works part-time. By night he may be playing a show with his up-and-coming Bellingham-based band, Fictions.

Ian Knight, a student at Whatcom, was at a recent Fictions show at the Underground Coffee House on Western Washington University’s campus.

“The simplicity of the bass lines and muddy guitar riffs mesh well with the technical style of Wallace,” Knight said.

Fictions is composed of members Nick Thacker on guitar and vocals, Katie Weiss on bass, and Erik Wallace on drums.

“Nick, the singer/guitarist, and I met in the audio recording program at Western, and Katie who plays bass, is Nick’s best friend and roommate,” Wallace said.

Weiss and Wallace have done the Bellingham Girls Rock Camp for the last couple of years, Wallace explained. He taught drums while Weiss held an administrative counselor position, he said.

“Next year she’ll probably be teaching bass,” Wallace said.

When the three first began writing and recording songs, Wallace said Weiss had little to no experience on the bass guitar.

Wallace said he drew on past experience and was able to teach Weiss how to play bass in only five months. He added that he has played bass for other bands in the past and began playing guitar when he was 13-years-old.

 “Katie’s really smart. She just picked it up like that,” Wallace said, snapping his fingers. “There wasn’t really a learning curve.”

Although Fictions is too new of a band to have experienced any “crazy shows” or major “technical difficulties,” Wallace said he has had his fair share of memorable moments on stage.

“I was in a band, So Adult, for six months. It was like two years ago and we played in a flooded basement,” Wallace said. “It was a rowdy punk-house show and people were crowd surfing, the humidity, people were basically swimming in there. It was the middle of summer after some torrential downpour. That was really fun.”

Along with being a librarian for Whatcom and the drummer for Fictions, Wallace has recently founded his own record company, Shibusa Sound.

Wallace said the idea for Shibusa Sound came to him shortly after he graduated from the Audio Engineering program at Western Washington University. “I was looking for answers after graduation and finally decided to invest in my dreams by recording live music,” he said.

This passion for recording music has seemed to manifest itself in a record company that aims to “carve a niche” out of the local Bellingham recording market, Wallace said.

Instead of promoting a large high-tech recording studio, which most modern sound engineers use, Wallace said he prefers the methods of the new-aged “do-it-yourself” type of artist.

“Just having someone to make their recordings sound good and having someone who understands playing music to help them produce stuff is something that often gets overlooked with the whole ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude, which I’m totally into,” Wallace said. “But there’s nothing wrong, or not ‘do-it-yourself’, about having someone help you.”

Shibusa Sound approaches this “do-it-yourself” type of artist with its own grassroots style of recording. Shibusa Sound has recorded all types of music, from big band bazz to hip-hop, Wallace said.

“My company specializes in doing mobile recordings. The whole business model is built on being able to come to where musicians are playing and record them,” Wallace said. “I’m aiming for a very specific group of artists.”

As far as the future goes for Wallace and Fictions, everything seems to be “up in the air,” Wallace said, adding that the band and the company alike may make a move to the Bay Area or Seattle sometime in the future  in order to “expand the pool of artists to work with.”

He said they also may stay in Bellingham and ride the wave that their recent success has created.

“One thing I think is very true about our sound is that it is rooted deeply in the topography and culture of the Pacific Northwest,” Wallace said. “I think the surreal beauty of this region is something that drives all of us in the band to create.”

Fictions will be playing an all-ages show at Make.Shift Feb. 1 and another one Feb. 7 at the bellingham Alternative Library.


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The Heist (review)

By Henry Slater


Every time I hear someone talking about Macklemore these days, I generally hear the same thing. “He went mainstream.” “He only makes dance music now.” “His old music was so much better.”

To an extent, I agree, but let’s be reasonable. The man has worked exceptionally hard to get to where he is.

In 2005, when it was just Macklemore, not Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, his debut album “The Language of My World,” sold about 15,000 copies.

After experimenting with a number of promotional techniques, including adding his producer Ryan Lewis to his stage name, his second album, “The Heist,” released on October 9 of this year, sold almost 100,000 copies.

Such a talented person deserves the attention that he is finally getting. Macklemore has long been one of my favorite rappers, and has long gone unnoticed. It makes me happy to see him finally receive some recognition.

However, finally receiving deserved attention isn’t the only reason fans should be happy for him. “The Heist” is a historically significant album for a couple of reasons.

No one in the history of hip-hop has taken the stand in defense of marriage equality that he has. With the single, “Same Love,” comes a strong message about the social implications of homosexuality in this country. Please, point out one rapper who has done this before.

The album is also significant because Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are not signed to a record label.

Now I’m not trying to be cool and say that they’re indie, so their music is better than everything else. I’m saying that this is genuinely independent, self-recorded music that reached number one on iTunes. Please, point out one rapper who has done this before.

So, there you have it: a few good reasons not to hate on Macklemore. Do I think that his old music is better? Yes. But I think that he did what he had to do to reach a wider audience, and also get a message out.

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