Line-up /BANDSHELL PRESENTS: White Ring, Slava, GEMS, Vandana Jain
WHITE RING are a duo that dwell on the outskirts of pop music. Bryan Kurkimilis and Kendra Malia met on the internet in 2007 and started an email correspondence and exchanged ideas. Growing up in the age of the internet they were inspired by the huge range of music they were exposed to and list trance, rap, ebm, neo-folk and metal as amongst their inspiration. They have developed a unique style based more on the idea of achieving certain feelings of loss and acceptance while pushing the boundaries of accessibilityand musical genre.
WHITE RING are a beguiling and extraordinary New York band, tagged as part of the burgeoning Witch House scene, White Ring create an eerie, unsettling sound that blends heavy, distorted electronics with creepily sublime vocals.
WHITE RING have released two 7” singles; a split 7" with oOoOO and a single called "Suffocation" which featured remixes from Los Campesinos, Vitaminsforyou, Unison, Guy Dallas and more. These both sold out within weeks and a very limited 12" EP (250 copies) followed which sold out on pre-order. It is impossible to find physical copies of their music anywhere except for copies on Ebay going for more than $100.00
White Ring’s music is highly sought after and very rare indeed. This is why Rocket Girl is re-releasing the Black Earth that Made Me EP adding the bonus track ‘Suffocation’. The debut full-length will follow next year.
The band have been involved with some varied and fantastic official remixes by a wide array of bands from LA's weird rock group HEALTH to modern EBM/industrial legends God Module, to rising trance rappers G-Side. WHITE RING’s track ‘Roses’ was featured in season five of the UK television show Skins.
Each live show brings out more people than the last, playing for crowds of over 800 people in their hometown of NYC, WHITE RING are also known for their captivating live performances, usually bringing their own lighting equipment and putting on a spectacular laser show. They toured the UK last year in support of their sold out split 7", playing InTheCity and SWN festivals – which were their first shows outside of New York. WHITE RING went on to play the West Coast of the states on four separate occasions this year. They have shared the stage with the likes of Cold Cave, araabMUZIK, Liturgy, Blank Dogs, Gatekeeper, Blondes, oOoOO, Clams Casino, and others.
They have achieved an awful lot, armed only with a couple of sold out 7"s and an EP that never even hit the shelves. Now signed to Rocket Girl, the sold-out Black Earth that Made Me EP will be released in November distributed in the UK / Europe for the first time; with their debut LP due for early 2012 – this is not the last you will be hearing of WHITE RING!
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Slava Balasanov is 30, with a precise bowl cut and a surprising fondness for the plain black dress shoes of a bank teller. The son of two mathematicians, he spent his first 12 years in Moscow before the family moved to Chicago. “It was right after the Soviet Union crumbled, and there was all this hype about the US and how glamorous it is,” he says. “I was really excited about having an endless supply of Coca-Cola.” From junior high through college, Balasanov was something of a free jazz obsessive, practicing the guitar four hours a day, aiming to make jazz his profession. But after finishing at the University of Chicago, he fell into a spiral of disoriented self-loathing. He quit jazz, bought a Britney Spears record and traded his guitar for a pair of Korg Electribe grooveboxes, which have been his main instrument ever since. “It was a big relief to start from scratch,” he says. “To move forward and not get hung up on things.” In between unrewarding jobs in the Financial District and trips to old school house clubs on Chicago’s south side, Balasanov started DJing with two friends from high school, and they began a small, genre-bending electronic label called Moment Sound. The opening song on Balasanov’s 2008 debut begins with splashy jazz drums, standup bass and scat singing, before wrapping itself in an other worldly percussive melody that sounds like tweezers drumming on tiny pipes.
Skip ahead to Soft Control, his new EP on New York’s Software label, released as Slava, and that ethereal percussion has nearly taken over. Familiar instruments take on unexpected roles: the airy spattering of drums on “Swan” mostly resembles the crackling of a very dusty record, and when gamelan and harp show up, it sounds as if they were thrown in whitewater and recorded as they clanged and bubbled downstream. Soft Control draws its soul from deep sounds with important cultural histories, and Balasanov remains dedicated to improvisation, with most tracks recorded in single takes straight from the Electribes. The chaos at the heart of free jazz lives on, now manifested in his frantic drum programming. The persistent vocal sample running through “I’ve Got Feelings Too” is none other than Spears’, his first pop crush. “You’ve learned and tried all these different things, and now you’re rediscovering yourself again.”
Balasanov uses recognizable sounds like signposts toward a surreally foreign place, a technique he applies to his similarly concept-juggling visual art. He spent much of the winter completing a residency at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York, where he continued working on his online platform, Gifpumper, a deceptively retro-seeming tool for constructing digital “rooms” out of animated GIFs. Gifpumper employs ’90s-evocative images of floating pizzas, chrome spheres and Disney princesses in much the same way Soft Control references Chicago footwork and house music: it builds new worlds out of them. With a few torques in just the right places, the past is rendered totally, jarringly new. 2-D becomes 3-D. Nearly 20 years since he emigrated from Russia, Balasanov’s art and music finally seem to be reaching a creative pinnacle, but the wonder of his method of refiguring culture is that culture never sits still. There’s always work to do. “With evolution, nothing’s ever perfect,” he says. “I don’t think I’ll ever be settled.”
GEMS is Clifford John Usher and Lindsay Pitts
Additional drums and percussion by Sean McVey
The band formed in 2012 in Washington D.C.
"I'm a singer, songwriter based in Brooklyn, I grew up in India and lived in London before moving here.
My music is a mix of dark moody sounds with an underlaying dissonant, psychedelic-electro vibe. The tracks range from an intense downtempo ambiance to rapid paced syncopated beats complete with obsessive minimoog licks. My vocals take main stage and require a bit of vulnerability from the listener.
A lot of my songs talk about the human body in an abstract way, there are thoughts and feelings about destruction and decay, and there is the opposite of that, with beauty and euphoria.
My background is from graphic design, I really enjoy shooting and editing my videos and creating all my artwork, drawing inspiration mostly from the visual world.
www.vandanajain.com is my website. I'd love to hear from you."
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