Wednesday, August 1, 2012

2012 Artist Feature - Box Jellyfish

I first heard about Chicago's Box Jellyfish when I was talking to Bob Howe (vocals/guitar) at Lincoln Hall, and he invited me to one of their shows at the Empty Bottle. When I got home I checked out the No Sound EP and was immediately intrigued by the mellow, brooding, atmospheric music I was hearing; no pretension or gimmicks, just honest style, breezy hooks and dynamic guitars that build to support the group's well thought-out arrangements.

What I like most about Box Jellyfish is that they've managed to develop a unique sound and feeling that creeps up on you... in a good way. We're happy to have them join us! You can learn more about the band's thoughts on musical style, vocal harmonies and more in the interview below.

Tell me about Box Jellyfish's origins? How long have you been playing? Why is "Shoegaze" listed as a category on bandcamp? 

We got started as a writing project between the two founding members in early 2010. The material that was produced eventually became our first EP, No Sound. We’re currently a 3-piece outfit working with guitar, keyboard, drums, and the incorporation of baritone guitar in lieu of a bass. Our goal is to create a rich sound within the dynamics of our instrumentation -- the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

And, clinically speaking, we aren’t really a “Shoegaze” band, though we do admire the sense of atmosphere created by bands like Slowdive, Ride, and My Bloody Valentine. And yeah, we use a ton of reverb on everything. Bob's vocals are breathy and dreamy. But we all have quite different and overlapping musical backgrounds: from folk, jazz, punk, pop, and metal, to indie rock and electronic music. We figured that since we have to categorize ourselves by choosing three words from a list of 20, “Shoegaze” was more fitting than "indie-folk" or "black metal".

I noticed that all three of you sing on your tracks. Was it your intention to put together a band with so much vocal emphasis, or did the vocal capabilities of the group come as happenstance?

This is an element that sort of evolved over time and is still evolving, actually. Adding vocal harmonies allows us to create a more dense and dynamic sound than we would be able to with only our instruments. We feel that the sound of the human voice is the most engaging of all sounds to the human ear. Two or three people singing in perfect harmony is more powerful and soul-stirring than any other instrument. We try to incorporate that power into our music as much as possible.

You just recorded a live EP at the Empty Bottle, a follow up from "No Sound EP" with new songs. Is this a taste of things to come, and if so, what exactly?

The tracks from The Bottle (Click here to listen to the live EP!) are pretty much a bootleg recording that turned out pretty nice. That being said, it does provide a benchmark for our current sound. We have been working for the past year honing our sense of dynamics, paying more attention to the arrangements, and tightening everything down. The track "Two Rooms" is the most recent example of this progression. It has the dynamic tension, texture, and range of emotion we’re going for.

Box Jellyfish -Two Rooms (live) by RockPigRoastChi

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