Interview with Electro Bass Jazz band High Step Society
Electro Bass Jazz band High Step Society merges their dance music from our past with sounds for the future and takes the honeyed tones of the Jazz Age, melding it with banning bass drops of the new millennium.
These cats are electronic music producers as well as educated jazz musicians. High Step Society is rethinking jazz with unorthodox arrangements, and bringing a touch of elegance to modern electronic music.
See our exclusive interview with them below:
Tell us about your earliest musical memory?
(This is Ethan Rainwater here, band manager/bass/keys, answering questions on behalf of the band.) The first musical memory I can recall is my first ever live show – James Brown and Little Richard at the New York State Fair. They were both like 3 hours late to the show, keeping the whole amphitheatre waiting…they finally arrived via helicopter. Though they were both in their 70s, they completely lit the place on fire.
At what point in your life did you have that moment where you said to yourself “This is it. This is the type of music I want to create?”
We were heavily inspired by the genre of electro-swing, coming out of Europe. When I first heard Caravan Palace, with their seamless blend of virtuosic jazz and heavy electronic beats, I knew that this style of music held powerful potential. Two styles of dance music from very different eras complemented each other in all the right ways. We sought to capture the essence of this fusion while leaving the cheese on the side.
Please list some of the most influential albums on your creative outlook and output:
Caravan Palace – Panic
GRiZ – Good Will Prevail
What key pieces of gear/software are you using to define your sound?
Our whole band runs on Ableton Live – it’s the cornerstone for all of our recording, live sampling, and synth-based sound design.
Our flagship analogue-synth bass sounds are made on the Moog Sub 37.
Otherwise, a big part of our sound is the good old-fashioned tones coaxed from clarinets, saxophones, trombones and upright basses.
What inspires you outside of music? What do you turn to when the creative well runs a little low?
Several of us are involved in building trades and the landscape industry. There’s nothing like getting outside and getting your hands dirty to give you a reset from the screen.
What is your opinion on the ever spreading sub-genre vine? Are there too many? Do you think there’ s perhaps a sub-genre that doesn’t get the attention it deserves?
Music is on an infinite continuum, and every band has its own sound. Genres and sub-genres are just an attempt to put styles into boxes. Useful for categorization, but no band should feel the need to fit into one of them.
I think electro-swing has a lot more potential than has been explored. A lot of the genre is cheesy, repetitive and one-dimensional, which has turned a lot of people off and made bands run away from being labelled as such. But the fusion of jazz and electronica is the fertile, fertile ground which needs much deeper exploration.
Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, what do you prefer?
This recent pandemic and its cancellation of 100% of live music shows have really shed light on how important life experiences really are. It is an essential part of how we express ourselves, and how we form a community. We all miss it terribly. I’m sure once we go back to some semblance of “normal,” people are going to re-emerge in force.
Any new or upcoming artists on your radar? Who shouldn’t the world sleep on?
Anomalie is an amazing pianist/producer out of Canada, who has done some work with Gramatik – a really incredible player and producer.
Also, one of our favourite local musicians is Russ Liquid – rarely are people equally gifted with instruments and digital music programming.
I also want to say that while they aren’t “new or upcoming,” I hope the world, and especially young people, don’t sleep on the great heritage of jazz that has been left for us. Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, so many greats – they left some serious inspiration for us, and we shouldn’t forget it.
What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
After we release our ‘Perception’ EP, we are already hard at work on the next one. We have several collabs in the works and are already fleshing out the next album.