hello electric
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hello electric

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE
Band Rock EDM


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"Schwindy's indie music spotlight: Hello Electric"

In bringing you the best in independent music, I speak to a lot of musicians. In those conversations, musicians frequently say things that stick with me. I once spoke to a musician from Portland and he said that the reason the city has such a good music scene is because all the rain makes it hard to do anything besides practice music. I could take it one step further and say that at least some bands in Portland use the weather not only as a reason to practice music, but also to create music that doesn't sound like too many other bands.
Hello Electric is such a band. There is something immediately familiar about Skychief. The bass in the first track "Rotate" reminds me a lot of "Hey Man, Nice Shot" by Filter. Aside from that the band is harder to classify. This is a band whose sound is one part experimental indie rock worthy of Touch and Go, one part industrial (mostly in the bass), one part spacy shoegaze ("American Buffalo").
There is one thing about this album that I don't quite understand. If you look at the track listing, you'll see the last song "Untitled" is more than 20 minutes long. If you guessed hidden tracks, you're right. Now, I am not befuddled by the concept of a hidden track or two. However, the way this track is put together is a little strange. Between the 13th song and the first hidden track is a five-minute gap. Then after a fairly standard-length hidden track is another gap of more than three minutes. The lack of continuity makes it easy to forget that you have a CD playing. Ultimately, the band could have done the hidden tracks without making the listener wait so long for them.
Does the rain in Portland have anything to do with this band's unusual sound? I can't answer that conclusively. However, I can say that if you're looking for something off the beaten path, Hello Electric is a band you should check out. - Orange County Music Examiner

"Hello Electric, “The Bear King,” Pilot EP"

With the amount of testosterone pulsing alongside the rugged guitar chords in “The Bear King,” it’s easy to slide local trio Hello Electric right next to Aussie group Wolfmother on the record shelf. However, Hello Electric are Pacific Northwesteners all the way, not just in terms of its physical residence, but in the into-the-wild imagery in “The Bear King” and the rest of its song catalog, too. With titles like “North on the Moss” and “Forest Green” these guys really live up to all the NW stereotypes, huh?

Besides the rad song title, I also love the track’s muddled, low-riding beat. The year is still young, but “The Bear King” is one of my favorite—and funnest—discoveries of 2009. - Local Cut: Willamette Week

"Tonight in Music: Hello Electric"

There's no better time than an all-ages Valentine's dance party to release a record like Hello Electric's Skychief. The album—sadly not named for Robert "The Chief" Parish's hook shot—was recorded by John Gourley from Portugal. The Man, and the two bands share an artistic kinship of freewheeling rock numbers unafraid to push and pull in any given direction. The towering rock songs of Skychief are capped by the confident delivery of frontman Kirk Ohnstad, whose charismatic cadence transfers seamlessly to the recorded product. Joining them will be Housefire and the swoon-worthy boys of Wampire, who might be the first local band to be pelted in a wave of panties that could make Tom Jones envious.
- The Portland Mercury

"Kirk Ohnstad of Hello Electric"



Posted by Cameron Clowers on October 5, 2010 · 1 Comment

In this week’s Q&A, I have the distinct pleasure of connecting with multi-instrumentalist & founder of Hello Electric, Kirk Ohnstad.

Kirk. I’ve read that you started Hello Electric as a solo project during college in 2005. In 2008, Zachary and Henry joined the ensemble. What was the transition like moving from writing everything solely to working as a team?

KO: Working as a band is much different than writing a song in its entirety as an individual. Having a band is the necessary link between the song writing process and performing live. This transition for hello electric has been a gradual and progressive change, allowing the development of the concepts I would have as a songwriter to mature into live pieces with additional character added by Zach and Henry. As always in a band, dynamics are crucial and improvement comes through none other than practice.


Who are your collective influences now that you are a band of brothers?

KO: Influences: Dr. Helicopter, Air, Spoon, Harry Nilsson, Portugal. The Man, RJD2, Liars, the Rapture, Ratatat, the Roots, Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin, Band of Skulls… (etc.)

You just finished a tour through Austria with fellow band, Steaming Satellites. How was the tour? (please indulge us) Was the tour a success? What was your favorite place to play?

KO: Playing with the Steaming Satellites was awesome. Since it was the first time that hello electric has played in Europe, the whole trip was a new experience as a band. Being very courteous and accommodating, Max (lead singer for satellites) was our most gracious host and really had our back the whole time we were there. He was the one who initially invited us over there and set up our tour schedule through Austria. The Steaming Satellites are working and almost finished with their new album; so we had the fortune to hear their new material before the album is out… something we are all excited about.

Touring in Europe is much easier than here in the states. The music listening audience is larger and distributed through a larger span of ages (essentially there are no “all ages” shows… everyone can drink) I think people in Europe are more responsive and critical of music, and the venues are generally nicer and more accommodating…

The shows we played were awesome. The nicest people, and our style of music was something other than the taste of the usual music touring around (especially in the small Austrian towns…) Collectively our favorite show was at Freysitz in Hallein, Austria. We had a great turnout and a very enthralled and responsive audience… this venue was absolutely packed… we also give it the hottest show ever…(temperature)

Portland is a champion city. You are a champion band. How has Portland culture impacted you as individuals and musicians?

KO: Portland has a very diverse and intense music scene… you can find nearly every style of band here with a decent fan base to follow… luckily for us, indie rock is at the forefront of the music scene in Portland, and we couldn’t ask for a better town to be in… the city itself effects the music; simple things like the skyline, forested surroundings, geography and climate all have their inherent influences, but I feel this small city (as Portland really is) benefits most from its isolated and rather compact urban setting, allowing music to really find roots and build an independent character like no other town… Portland is amongst the top cities for the kind of music we play.

I found out about you guys through a mutual friend, Tish Fagan. I am interested to know how you guys stay connected/maintain relationships with your fans?

KO: Our fan base is completely random… most of our fans are on the east coast and in Europe… word of mouth (to this point our only form of advertisement) travels oddly it seems… staying connected with fans is done through our internet presence (website, facebook…etc.), nothing too exciting or unusual there…

Tell me about your upcoming album, Skycheif. How does it compare to your previous albums, Soundwaves and E.P. Pilot?

KO: The new album skychief is the most intense of hello electric’s albums. With vivid imagery, darker chord progressions, and the first use of real drums, this album stands out to previous work by being very upfront and progressive. As a concept album, the themes that stand out are heavily based in romanticism and German literature, but they are rooted with an American basis. This album was the first to be produced (john gourley). As “soundwaves” had a smooth and passive overall feeling, “skychief” compliments the other side of the spectrum as gritty and abrasive, lyrically and musically. “e.p. pilot” harnessed the combination of the two albums as a transition.

I see that you have a pretty close tie with Portugal. The Man’s, John B. Gourley. How has that relationship blossomed for you as friends and as a band?

KO: I used to tour with Portugal. The man as a touring guitarist. Naturally I got really close to all the guys in the band. Ryan Neighbors, who hopped on with the band full time was is my very good friend since growing up, we had a band called the “shepherds of Ontario” that got us noticed by Portugal in the first place… John had approached me about working on music together. We’ve toyed with starting a side project band together (named “the dirty fingers”) and been on six tours together. I know all these guys, and they are kind of like our big brothers in music… when john had suggested recording up in seattle and him producing the new record, things just kind of worked themselves out… the result is the album skychief.

I can most definitely see you guys going far. What is your (ultimate) goal as a band?

KO: Our band goal at this point is to be able to tour and not lose money… it’s a bit more complicated than it seems, but our goal is rather simple and straight forward… we just want to play shows

-Kirk - Bridge.Town.Low.Down.

"Hello Electric: Skychief"

Postrock aus Portland, das ist meist eine gute Sache und die Zeit wert, sich damit etwas eingehender zu beschäftigen. Auch für das bärtige Trio HELLO ELECTRIC trifft diese Feststellung zu, fabrizieren sie doch auf ihrem zweiten Longplayer „Skychief“ wunderbare Kleinode von Songs, die sich langsam in die Hörgänge schleichen und da einfach nicht mehr raus wollen. Egal ob metallisch-hart oder elektronisch-blubbernd entsteht hier auf mehr als einer Stunde ein feiner, musikalischer Sog, der bei eingehender Beschäftigung nur noch weiter wächst und gedeiht.

Eröffnet wird mit „Rotate“ auf der ruhigen Seite, Schlagzeug plus Synthie-Unterstützung bilden das Grundgerüst, über das Kirk seine Gesangslinien legt. Ein klassischer Indie-Song, der sich im Laufe der Zeit steigert und gegen Ende gar dezent an RADIOHEAD erinnert. Bei „Bear King II“ wird an den Verstärkern gedreht, hier gibt’s Distortion Galore! Eine simple Gitarrenfigur gibt den Ton an und auch einige Schreie werden ausgepackt. Prinzipiell lassen sich vom Gitarrensound her einige Parallelen zu Stoner bzw. Sludge-Bands ausmachen, allerdings in einem sehr eigenwilligen Zusammenhang, wie auch „American Buffalo“ beweist. Wirklich groß wird es dann bei „Cosine“, das sich sehr ruhig präsentiert und die vielleicht beste Melodie der ganzen Platte aus dem Ärmel schüttelt. Dem gegenüber stehen Kirks Schreie im Refrain. Das ergibt eine so spezielle Mischung, dass man beinahe mitgrölen muss. Elektronische Spielereien finden sich beinahe überall, was mitunter zu einem NINE INCH NAILS-mäßigen Sound führt, wovon man sich etwa bei „Gold Confetti“ überzeugen kann. Auch Vergleiche mit PORTUGAL.THE MAN sind angebracht, zeichnet doch deren Sänger und Hauptsongwriter John Baldwin Gourley für die Produktion verantwortlich.

Der „Skychief“ ist also ein Potpourri aus vielen Stilen, fühlt sich aber die meiste Zeit über wie aus einem Guss an. Belohnt wird man am Ende noch mit ganzen sechs Bonustracks, die nicht näher benannt werden, aber in eine ähnliche Kerbe schlagen, wenn sie auch meist auf der ruhigeren Seite angesiedelt sind. Kirk William Ohnstad und seine zwei Mitstreiter haben hier ein feines Album abgeliefert, das vielleicht für metallisch verwöhnte Ohren zu gemächlich daherkommt, aber bei Postrock-Fans sicher auf Gegenliebe stoßen wird.

Wertung: 3.5 von 5.0 - Stormbringer

"Portland indie bands Portugal. The Man and Hello Electric stun an unexpected WOW Hall crowd"

Forget James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster Avatar: 3D; if spectators truly want their eyes to be tested to the extremes, try watching a Portugal. The Man show. Although the band just released their sixth studio album American Ghetto in March, they were quick to announce a Pacific Northwest tour that included a performance at the Coachella Festival in Indio, California.

Hello Electric, who often plays at numerous venues located in Portland, began Tuesday’s night show with an electrifying set that included songs from their soon-to-be release, Sky Chief. Throughout their set, the band skillfully blended Led Zeppelin style riffs with various alt-metal and punk resonances that would certainly appeal to fans of Queens of the Stone Age, The Pixies and Wolfmother. The trio, which includes Kirk Ohnstad, Zach Bendt and Henry Gibson, occasionally switched instruments and made use of an electronic drum kit in several of their songs.

Following their debut album Soundwaves, Hello Electric started attracting attention by combining grunge, metal and punk with rock influences; a mixture that can be best explained after listening to the album’s hit songs, “Cities Sound,” “My Mind and Me” and “The Wiseman’s Game.”In 2009, the band released The Bear King Ep; an album that further incorporates their indie insanity tracks such as “Forest Green” and “North On the Moss.”

By the end of the set, Hello Electric had WOW Hall’s crowd amped up, enough for them to return with a one song encore. “I guess we can give you one more,” said vocalist Kirk Ohnstad. “It may be a little anti-climatic, but fuck it.”

Before Portugal. The Man’s arrival, the WOW Hall’s stage was quickly adorned with strange painted murals of Vikings and half-man/half-unicorns while songs from Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails softly played over the house speakers. A looming fog slowly covered the dark stage within minutes and created an eerie setting that could be mistaken for a cemetery with no possible life existing on its surface. That’s when Portugal stepped in. - oregonmusicnews.com

"On The Rocks: Zwei Festival-Tage im Salzburger Land"

Danach sind Hello Electric dran. Ein bärtiges und bemütztes Trio aus Portland, Oregon. Wo Portland drauf steht, sollte man überhaupt eigentlich immer reinsehen, denn da könnte etwas musikalisch Interessantes drinnen sein. Ist es auch in diesem Fall: Hello Electric werden angeführt vom Songschreiber und Multiinstrumentalisten Kirk Ohnstad, der eben sein Physik-Studium abgeschlossen und dazu auch noch das erste richtige Album von Hello Electric eingespielt hat: "Skychief" wurde in Seattle aufgenommen, zusammen mit John B.Gourley von Portugal.The Man, mit denen Ohnstad auch schon auf Tour war. Gourley sah schon künstlerisches Potential in der vorherigen Band von Kirk Ohnstad, Shepherds Of Ontario.
Zachary und Kirk von Hello Electric
Zachary und Kirk von Hello Electric

Die ersten Versuche als Hello Electric unternahm Kirk in seinem Studentenzimmer in Eugene, Oregon wo er Musik einspielte. "The Bear King" ist einerseits post-rock-ig - na klar, ich hab ja auch Physik und Mathematik studiert, meint Kirk Ohnstad - andererseits ein wenig an Wolfmother erinnernd. Alles geht von den Drums aus, man wechselt sich an den Instrumenten ab, Kirk schreit und heult und presst sogar fast diesen Kurt Cobain spezifischen Schrei raus.
Portland, Oregon meets Southampton, UK

"I know my place, but it don´t know me", heisst es dann später bei der Band Of Skulls aus dem südenglischen Southampton. Jetzt ist der Funken so richtig da, obwohl noch mehr Leute im Zelt sein könnten. Die Gitarre lebt. Und wie sie lebt. Sänger/Gitarrist Russell Marsden ist ein Pretty-Boy-Rocker von Robert Plant-scher Sexiness. Drummer Matt Hayward erinnert mich eine Sekunde an den jungen Soundgarden-Gitarristen Kim Thayil. Oder sind es bloß der Bart, die großen dunklen Augen und sein Holzfällerhemd?
Matthew an den drums/Band of Skulls
Drummer Matt

Letzteres war heute ausgetauscht gegen ein schwarzes T-Shirt. Und da ist noch Emma Richardson, akademisch geprüfte Malerin und bei der Band Of Skulls Bassistin und Sängerin. Russell und Emma als Sänger, abwechselnd oder zusammen, funktioniert wirklich gut: "Cold Fame", das herrlich schimmernde "Impossible", das Radiohead-ige "Fires", die Hits "I Know What I Am" und "Death By Diamonds And Pearls".
Emma und Russel von Band of Skulls
Emma und Russel von Band of Skulls

So muss neuer Brit-Rock klingen, und "Blood", gesungen von Emma Richardson ist sowieso ein Favourite von mir. Das wunderschöne, folkige und ebenfalls von Emma gesungene "Honest" bleibt diesmal draußen, es würde den tollen Rock-Gig-Vibe, der herrscht, zu sehr runterholen. Emma Richardson - Britgirl meets Amazone - ist eine wirklich gute Frau-am-Bass-Frontwoman-Ergänzung zum Frontmann Russell Marsden. Melissa auf der Maur move over. - FM4.orf.at



soundwaves // 2007
single(s): North on the Moss, Cities Sound

e.p. pilot // 2008
single: the bear king

skychief // 2010
single(s): rotate, the bear king II, three of clubs



HELLO ELECTRIC met around the fine tuning knobs of an oscilloscope..

get ready for what your body craves...