Stu Lemley takes a look away from his bass, synthesizer and his band mates and gazes at the beautiful sight of a packed crowd at the 8×10 dancing to the music they are creating. This is what Lemley and his live electronica band Stushido live for, and this is becoming a reoccurring sight every show they play.
“I’m very pleased that the response of our band thus far has been very positive in Baltimore and surrounding areas. Going to music festivals for years, fans of jam bands and electro seem to put an incredible stake in music,” Lemley said. “They don’t just want to watch it or enjoy it, they want to live it.”
Fans have been watching Stushido since May 2008. Lemley said the band started out as an experiment, but once they started playing shows people caught on and the solid beats and music made fans want to come back for more.
Baltimore is evolving into a live electronica hotspot. Many live electronica local bands and DJs are developing and gaining more popularity in the area and both new and old fans are turning their attention to this rising genre on a local and national scale.
“The electronica music scene in Baltimore is dank just like our city. Whether the music is beautiful or ugly, hard hitting or ambient, it is always thick, rich and full of juice,” Lemley said. “The fans are the same way. They love music, they love going to shows, and in many ways they have an extremely pure love of life.”
Stushido is one of many live electronica bands that are gaining more attention and popularity in the Baltimore area. Segway, one of the biggest live electronica bands in Baltimore, has been playing shows and making people dance since 2006, and they have achieved much success in the local and regional area through many shows/events and festivals like Starscape. Neil Fennekohl, guitarist for Segway, joined the band in early 2008 and has seen the growth of live electronica in just a short period.
“Not only has the local live electronica scene grown more popular in recent years but it’s helped Baltimore become a tour stop for many national acts,” Fennekohl said. “There was point in time where the live electronica scene seemed to be dwindling in the area but with the help of promoters and a new legion of young fans I say it’s now stronger than ever.”
Another local electronica band that has gained much success in Baltimore is TELESMA. TELESMA has an electronica feel but also includes ancient instruments to give their band a different vibe. Chris Mandra, guitarist/vocalist/“manDrum” for TELESMA, thinks the local electronica scene is a bit different in Baltimore than anywhere else.
“I think there may be more experimental electronic music here than in other places,” Mandra said. “Lots of people here build their own stuff, and that’s kind of unusual, but I think that is what Baltimore is known for when it comes to this genre.”
A big reason for the rise in live electronica music in Baltimore is due to the hard work of promotion companies. Companies, like Fortune5Fifty and CKC United among others, set up shows and events in the area that feature local, regional and national acts. Most of these events are big successes due to the serious amount of promoting by both the companies and the bands, which results in exposure to new fans.
Fortune5Fifty is a charity oriented conscious entertainment company that has been impacting the live electronica scene in Baltimore and surrounding areas. Led by Austin Widdowson, Fortune5Fifty has a core objective to develop a web-based music network that makes fans more aware of the local and national live electronica bands and DJs through different local concerts and events.
“We’ve been blessed to have worked with many local electronic bands and DJs, many of which we call friends. Together we have been able to successfully produce several unique events incorporating local music, art and style. We strive to present a sensory overload incorporating mind melting light shows and bands with live artists painting on stage,” Widdowson said. “The original nature of these events has raised the bar amongst fans and other promoters in the area. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and it’s a great feeling to attend another promoters’ event and seeing them incorporating an aspect of your events into what they are doing.”
One of these companies that Widdowson and Fortune5Fifty emulate and work with is CKC United. CKC United has been setting up events and helping local bands and DJs for over a year, and their deep love and passion in electronica and jam band genres speaks a lot to the local bands they work with. Aaron Hinson, member of CKC United, has been with the company since it started, and he sees a lot of potential in the local live electronica bands and DJs that represent Baltimore.
“Over the years, more and more local bands in Baltimore have started to adapt to the sounds like the Disco Biscuits that incorporated a fusion of jam band and electronica styles, and they have gained more recognition for themselves and the city as a whole,” Hinson said. “Local bands like Damn Right! And Segway really bring electronic elements into a live music setting and it’s getting more and more popular as time passes.”
Live electronica music in Baltimore is constantly growing and gaining more recognition with different festivals and bands that are developing out of the area. All of the bands, DJs and promotion companies are working to get their name and message out there, but they also work to support each other so Baltimore as a city can become one of the top cities for this popular genre of music.
“I am blessed to enjoy the relationships I have with other musicians in Baltimore. We are a family. It is always a careful balance for artists to take time away from their own shows and development to get out there as much as we want to, but we do,” Lemley said. “It is necessary for all us to continue to support each other, and team up to provide this city with the best happenings we can put together, because that is a huge part oh what makes Baltimore such a mysteriously vibrant place to be.”
Check out some of the interview with Stu Lemley: