Published on September 12th, 2014 | by Ballard Lesemann0
Metronome Charleston Anniversary: Sexbruise? with a Question Mark
Earlier this year, when we first heard something about singer/guitarist Julie Slonecki’s “sex bruise,” we felt like it might a private matter. Then we heard that it was full-realized, dance-oriented, futuristic, electronic/rap-based musical project.
Sexbruise? (with a question mark) came together this year as a collaborative experiment between Slonecki (a.k.a. “J-Dolla Sign” Slonecki), drummer Stratton “Know” Moore (of Yellowknife and numerous local funk/jam bands), and two former members of local soul-rock band Old You, drummer John “Nazdaq” Pope and guitarist Caleb “DJ Setbreak” Bodtorf.
“The actual timeline for Sexbruise? is confusing because our sound is modeled off what the future sounded like in the ’80s,” says Pope, who handles live drums and laptop duties on stage with the quartet. “The fact that our raps closely resemble the rap-club music of today is purely coincidental.”
Slonecki describes the band’s situation as “largely an electronic group with at least three laptops on stage.” All four members switch between digital gear and live instruments. “We make some backing tracks with electronic drums, but then John and Stratton play live drums as well,” she says. “Caleb and I both play synth keyboards for the bass, and Caleb is also playing his baritone guitar. I do all singing and harmonies live using a delay/loop pedal, and John and Caleb occasionally rap.”
“We all came to be united under the name because we believe in what it stands for,” Slonecki adds. “For the scientists out there, I would say we are 50 percent natural, 20 percent computer, 30 percent future, and 1,000 percent sex.”
Considering the mix of electronic musical elements and other styles and directions, it’s a unique challenge for the Sexbruise? bandmates.
“As a band, I think we would agree that we are an experiment ourselves,” Slonecki says. “We combine humor and laptops in a way that either blows people away or drives them away. We just want to make people dance and lose their minds, and these days, you got to have that bass and those synths to do that.”
It’s one thing for a band’s timekeeper to perform on a traditional drum kit. It’s quite another to provide beats and sounds through digital gear and loop pedals. For Sexbruise?, it’s a fun detour that requires some pre-show prep work and plenty of on-stage enthusiasm.
“The backing tracks are largely pre-composed, but we leave a lot of room for improvisation,” Pope says. “The setup is surprisingly low-tech, with a laptop running into a D.I. [direct line], and me hitting the spacebar to start and stop the tracks on time. Julie does a lot of live looping with her vocals, but that operates independently of the backing tracks, which means she has to do it perfectly every time for the synch-up. She always does. Stratton has an electronic drum pad and a desktop computer that he plays. It’s a Dell from the late ’90s. They really don’t make them like that anymore.”
Last June, Sexbruise? shared the Pour House stage with funk-rock experts Stereo Reform an wowed the crowd wit their new material and on-the-spot jams. The vocals, melodies, harmonies, and rhythms were still developing in the band’s live set?
“Most of our music was written on the fly in the early days leading up to our first shows,” Pope says. “I don’t know if Julie is incredibly talented or consistently lucky, but either way, it has worked largely to our benefit having a vocalist that can harmonize with herself while playing a laptop.”
Slonecki’s fascination with digital recorders and loop pedals drives much of the band’s live sound. “Luckily, in the future, they made these devices that allow me to sing with myself, and we were able to bring one back in time with us,” she says. “A lot of the vocals started out as improvisation. I eventually started using the melody lines I liked the best more consistently in practices, and smash hits were born.”
Every member of Sexbruise? is involved with multiple musical and artistic projects this year. Slonecki plans to land in Athens, Georgia, this fall for an extended stay, so there’ll be a long-distance relationship in the works as well. But they do have plans to release a self-produced, five-song EP in the coming months.
“There will always be one and yet infinite versions of Sexbruise?’s, so that should ease your mind,” Slonecki says. “We will be playing shows all around the world for years to come.”
Pope agrees. “I like to think that at any given time there are an infinite number of Sexbruise?s coexisting together in every plain of space and time. It’s very difficult to quantify because y’all don’t have a word for it in English, but I believe in Japanese it is called ‘Butaniku.'”
Sexbruise? will play the late-night set at the Metronome Charleston Anniversary Show on Sat. Sept. 13 at the Tin Roof. $5 at the door. Proceeds will benefit the bands, Metronome’s website expenses, and Camp Happy Days. Visit facebook.com/sexbruise for more.
Powered by Facebook Comments