Artist of the Week

Trip Through Space Camp’s Musical Fusion

Posted by tbaker |

By Mason Carr

Some unenlightened people will claim they don’t see the appeal of electronica, jam bands, or trance music unless they were to take a substantial amount of drugs. They say jam music is boring, saying that it would take a whole bunch of lysergic acid diethylamide to enjoy it.

And some still say they couldn’t imagine going to an electronica show without 3,4-methylenedioxy-n-methylamphetamine or some sort of upper. These comments I’ve heard from even a buzz-cutt straight-lacer that hasn’t done a recreational drug in his life, except for the occasional night with that best bad friend, alcohol.

With this in mind, it makes me wonder what highly illegal and inadvisable concoction these everyday folks think they would have to ingest to enjoy Fayetteville’s…gasp…electronic jam-trance-fusion band, Space Camp, who have been filling bars and clubs around the area with eager fans.

“If you like to dance, then you like to dance,” band member John Hysell said. “If you like to dance on acid, then you like to dance on acid. I would say the majority of our audience just likes to dance, have a few drinks, and enjoy the show.”

Space Camp started in Fayetteville about a year ago when friends Taylor Smith, keys, and Hysell, bass, decided to become serious about music again after years of not playing in a band together, previously of now-defunct funk jam band Velcro Moonshoe.

Early in 2012, for about six months, they worked out melodies, jammed and wrote songs with a drum machine. Once they were comfortable with the material they had produced, they recruited drummer Clayton Suttle of former Fayetteville electronic band Echobase and guitarist Tim Yarbrough of the OneUps, a local jam band that plays video game music.

Influenced by bands such as the Disco Biscuits, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, Phish, Parliament, and Funkadelic, Space Camp creates an atmosphere driven by trance elements, a driving dance rhythm heavy on the downbeat and synth-centric melodies that are built and improvised on, creating valleys and peaks, an organic and electronic sound without using loops or computers, Smith and Hysell said.

How do they keep the fresh, organic sound interesting for everyone, including themselves?

“Once you get in the middle of a song, it’s all improvisational, which can be very good or bad so there’s a little bit of risk there,” Hysell said.

“But that’s what makes it fun,” -Smith.

“Right. If you’re playing the same song the same way every night, you’re going to get bored,” -Hysell.

Over the past several years, festivals with large jam band followings, Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, have been inviting more and more electronica into the line-ups. Bands such as The Disco Biscuits of Philadelphia and Perpetual Groove of Savanna, Ga., have been merging the worlds of electronic and jam music since the mid to late ’90s. While those bands tend to keep their sound more relatable to jam music, bands such as Sound Tribe Sector 9 and The New Deal are more thoroughly identifiable with electronica and dance. Space Camp tends to thread the needle, using electronic and dance elements as a setting before launching into more earthy jams then returning to the themes set by Smith’s keys and Suttle’s “four to the floor” dance beats.

“I think there’s an untapped market in Fayetteville for this kind of music,” Hysell said. “As far as I know, we’re the only live jam trance-fusion band in town now. More people show up at each show. People we wouldn’t expect to show up are showing up so I guess we’re doing something right.”

Aside from the free show at George’s on Saturday, they will also be playing at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville on Jan. 24 alongside Los Angeles performance painter Edward Norton. The audience is encouraged to come dressed in light-up costumes.

To listen to Space Camp, you can visit spacecampofficial.bandcamp.com or reverbnation.com/spacecampark or spacecampparty.com

What: Space Camp performance featuring lights, lasers, psychedelic projections and danceable jams
When: Saturday, Jan. 12
Where: George’s Majestic Lounge
Cost: FREE!

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