Kush
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Kush

Band Jazz EDM

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Mar
05
Kush @ Private Show

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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ETRIC LYONS IS A BALANCING ACT, with one hand on a silver-boxed console
and the other in the air contorting a signal to his band. He sits at the
front of the room behind the steely, wired contraption, with a bass guitar
slung around his neck, at the helm of the musical collective called Kush.
Following a look from Lyons the perfectly slow cadence of the musicians
shifts, and they drop in a smooth ascent of rhythm.
The red interior of The Potato Blues Supper Club bleeds sensuality
over the crowd with the look of this modern day speakeasy suited to a
silky-voiced crooner in a bow tie. In stark contrast, Lyons looks to be
from the future as he douses the room in a tide of down-tempo beats.
Whipping his Mad Max dreadlocks in time with the rhythm, he belongs
in a post-apocalyptic desert spitting up a rooster-tail of sand on to the
legion of steel-skulled believers racing in tow. Lyons is perched behind
the control console seamlessly shifting gears, combining jazz and electronica
by straddling the precipice between analog and digital realms.
Lyons has been a bass player since he was sixteen years old, though
was first recognized as a photographer. He got his start training under
renowned photographer Ian Clifford, and was lucky to be the recipient
of his teacher’s donated camera gear. The digital revolution hit and swept
all media fields forcing Lyons to choose between his two muses since
hand-me-down digital equipment did not yet exist, and he could not
afford the transformation in both fields. “I knew I could do the whole
first record on a laptop, and did,” he recalls of the Kush recording, The
Temptation Sessions.
Kush is a collective of studio-type musicians—Lyons-Bass, loops and
samples, Robert Sibony-drum loops, percussion, Eddie Bullen and
David Williams-keyboards, Bryden Baird-trumpets, effects—which was
the booster rocket which took Lyons on his current path. “Kush was the
seed of why I took the fork in the road, to music.”
The sound is an indeterminate rootball of influences ranging from the
traditional styles of jazz and soul, to current electronic compositions. The
esoteric beginnings of the frontman have guided his traditional interests,
but the technology has allowed him to infuse these originating influences
with a high-tech subterfuge to create a cross-dimensional sound. Lyons
adds, “Digital devices are just a new way of channeling, they allow me to
do things I used to dream about.”
Lyons finds his cue in the uncertain abyss of the contemporary-modern
DJ culture is an obvious and important influence, one that has allowed for
this cutting edge interpretation of free form jamming. He explains, “The
essence of what we’re doing is remixing, live. There is no set music; the
entire show is an improvisation.” This vague interpretation belies the truth
of the complexity of what is happening on stage. The spine of these compositions
is the tempo, the beats per minute, but with such a rich tapestry
sewn around them, this is a well-healed truth. “Before a show, all that I
give them is the beats per minute, and the key, and we just go,” he says of
the process, “this creates composition that is never the same twice.”
It is the machine, affectionately coined The Kush 1.0, which acts as
the ticker, the heart of the operation by pitting the electric distortions
and loops with the live instrumentals. An insane contraption spitting out
wires and switches that Lyons refuses to explain with any specificity. Like
The Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, Lyons pushes and prods—it is tied
down with bungee cords to a back wall so it doesn’t fall over, but is still
allowed the freedom to undulate under the weight of Lyons’ electricity.
He plays this machine as an instrument, his fingers cutting into the metal
surface, leading the band into this easy, unintentional sound.
“The sound is, I would hazard, kushy,” Lyons quips. “When we create
music, we have a female sensibility, comfortable.” He believes that improvisation
need not be jarring or make overly intellectual statements. True
to form, his creations are accessible, sweeping through the audience as a
mood. “I am not interested in alienating people for the sake of intellectual
musicality,” Lyons points out with a passive poignancy.
The next step in the evolution of the Kush collective is adding a true
visual element, “A band member who does with visuals what we do with
music, improving along with us,” he says. It seems that Lyons has not only
responded to the digital revolution, but that he has driven right past it into
the next, where a composition is comprised of mediums and instruments.
At the moment however, Lyons is headed back to the future, with a three
month voyage to Hong Kong to play jazz. “Hong Kong is five to seven
years ahead of us in technology, and that is where I’d like to be. I will be
developing the traditional aspects of music in the lap of technology, which
is what Kush is all about.” - Highrise Magazine


Walking up the all-white staircase to Etric Lyon’s Toronto pad, I find myself
wishing that I looked like Jennifer Lopez—not a usual thought.
We enter a gallery-like room—more white again, with sleek, modern style
built-in sofas. They’re the only objects in the room, except for a row of five
boutique bass guitars hung on the wall. The dining room, with its huge table,
brings more of the same ultra-modish feel. Hanging on the walls are two very
large photographs, taken by Lyons in his professional photography days. Floor
to ceiling white draperies cover a television-music room and computer room.
Fluid in an animated elegant way, Lyons flips on a DVD which includes
interviews of him describing the process his music creation takes, along with
tracks of his band, Kush. Clearly, this interview is going to be about an artist in
the real meaning of the word.
Lyons started playing music when he was sixteen. In 1999, after twenty years
of playing traditional music, he joined the computer revolution, and two years
ago produced Temptation Sessions, a down-tempo jazz CD which was done
completely on a laptop.“I was living and working together with
my younger brother—he’s five years younger.
I had a very strong understanding of the history
of music, but my brother was deep into
the current music scene. He helped me get
in tune by taking me to shows, where DJ’s
astounded me with their ability to use tension
and release. At this time, there were
very technical style DJ’s who were using
turntables incorporating a lot of tricks, acrobatics
and a high level of expertise. I found
DJ’s creating a whole musicscape with their
record choices by blending, creating a mood,
and taking audiences on a journey.” The
band Kush was created in 2001 to explore
music’s digital implications.During a residency at a club in Toronto’s
Little Italy, Lyons played with a collective
that included Kevin Laliberté, David Barrett
and Robert Sibony. Etric would ask the
musicians for their ideas, then give them a
beat per minute (bpm), and start recording.These tracks, with Lyons on bass guitar,
make up the loops and samples (drum parts,
keyboard chords, bass guitar riffs) of the
Kush 1.0 kit. For a time, he routinely spent
four to five hours a day working with the kit.
Now he knows this gear as well as any musician
knows his instrument.
Taking elements from the console, which
can be quite short, he remixes them, then
plays them back in live performances with
the band. With every bar of music, he is
making choices. During live performances,
he also captures improvised solos from the
other musicians and remixes these, as well
as playing bass guitar—a feat which calls for
a lot of dexterity.
To a musician, digital tools are like paint
brushes in the hand of the visual artist, he
reminds us.
Lyons took these recordings on the
road, and while touring, he created the
CD Temptation Sessions. He worked on
Temptation Sessions in a style comparable to
DJs, who think about the tempo and key of
the track, and because they’re mixing tracks
together, have the option to speed up or
slow down the beats per minute.
After completing his first CD in 2002—
which took nine months to create—Lyons
went on to create another collective.
“I wanted live musicians—I didn’t want
to have to rehearse ideas. I wanted to get the
best out of the players by incorporating their
most creative work,” he explains.
Together with Bryden Baird on trumpet,
Eddie Bullen on keyboards, and Robert
Sibony on drums and percussion (captured
in glowing colors on the previous pages by
Toronto illustrator Greg Pascos), he formed
the band now called Kush. Lyons took their
best tracks and merged them, “to the point
where they were unrecognizable by the
other players.”
The music moves from down-tempo
instrumental to dance music, with its base
originating in jazz. From there, it is improvised
live by the band. There are no songs
or chorus in the conventional sense; from
moment to moment, it is unique.
In live performance, the creative energy
with which Lyons conducts is intense, and
it’s evident that there is a language between
the players which has developed over time.
One of the things that he wanted to do
when he formed Kush, he says, was to create
music for women. Lyons observes that
the testosterone-driven music of heavy metal
and similar genres is all very male-driven.
“I didn’t do it (the music) to get
women—I just wanted to appeal to their
sensibilities. So I guess while I’m doing it
[performing] there are certain things I am
thinking about—I really like the idea of
flow, I don’t like jarring people.
“Imagine that there are four people
around a potter’s wheel, and you throw
a piece of clay on. Four people put their
hands on the potter’s wheel, and they start
to build a pot, but they can’t do it alone,
they need the use of the other hands.
“You have to constantly have that kind
of sensitivity, that - GXO Magazine


For those of you who like downtempo with more substance and greater musical sophistication, "Temptation Sessions" is for you. What a fantastic release! - http://OverXposure.FM


Perhaps a bit more Jazzy than I expected from the info listed on the website, but still a good collection of tunes for those interested in adding a sort of smooth jazz cd to their music collection. Hints of electronica lace an otherwise jazz-oriented album featuring loads of solid, well performed instrumentals.

- Reviewer: Jim Spaulding


Streams of Consciousness Vol.1 is a continuous flow of brilliant nu jazz and downtempo. Ideal for any relaxed cosmopolitan setting. - Reviewer: http://OverXposure.FM


Discography

Temptations Sessions
Streams of Consciousness Vol.1

Photos

Bio

Kush

Kush is a unique musical experience. With bass, loops and samples, keyboards, percussion and horn, Kush plays music from their souls. Nothing is pre-rehearsed. The music they play is created moment by moment and their rhythms are coordinated through intense concentration between the the musicians.
Watch them as they play for you... you will truly be amazed!