Laser Sex
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Laser Sex

Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
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"Laser Sex: Robot Quotes EP Review"

Scranton, PA jamtronica duo Mike Nasser and Jeff Felkowski are releasing another EP under their Laser Sex moniker, and their work is fresher than ever before. With state of the art technology, the two create a fantastic live show that sounds bigger than the pair, blending layer upon layer of instruments and samples. Not only does the EP reveal their masterful production skills, but it also promises a live experience like no other with their new and exciting sounds.

Robot Quotes opens with “3/4 Box,” a track full of irresistibly catchy laser synths and twangy, harsh guitar riffs meshed with digitally manipulated effects. A sample at the beginning asks, “Do you think we could play it? Gosh, what I’d give to hear some new music,” and the sample is spliced up and repeated during the track. Nasser and Felkowski have undoubtedly created just that—new, fresh, and interesting music that is begging to be performed in a live setting.

“Scientifically Engineered Dog Stuff,” has a catchy, computerized melody overlaid by several digital beats and a soulful guitar melody, which clarifies why the duo prefer to call their music “funktronic.” Another vocal sample from a little kid, “I felt like I was flyyyyyying in the air, I felt like I was a wave!” is so well interwoven into the beat and only adds to the playful tone of the track. Echoing throughout the end of “Dog Stuff,” the vocal sample gives another dimension to Laser Sex’s style. Nasser and Felkowski are able to place samples into tracks seamlessly, making all of the different parts work in perfect harmony.

Using Tears for Fears’ “Head over Heels,” Laser Sex creates a more danceable version of the 80’s classic on “Tempus Fug It,”—which translates from Latin to “time flies,” and is the main sample they use. Ripping it into a chopped up mess of syllables and speeding up some of the beat, and relying heavily on the piano melody from “Head over Heels,” Nasser and Felkowski create their own original spin on a classic.

“Thai Chi Chai Tea,” begins with an elaborate beat produced with overlapping effects over which a bluesy guitar soars. A childlike sample warns “don’t make any noise when the music is playing.” Integrated with drastic piano, the track closes with echoing clips of the sample.

A slowed down vocal sample, again from what sounds like a kid, starts “Hobbnockle,” and informs the listener that the speaker used to go fishing in Vancouver, his home, with his dad, until a few years ago when they found fish going extinct. Nasser and Felkowski’s use of conversational vocal samples often sets the tone of the track, and it is no different on “Hobbnockle.” The track has a quick beat, with a slow, echoey synth background and more bluesy guitar riffs. More vocal samples from the kid during the middle of the track build stronger guitar melodies and a louder beat toward the end, with what sounds like shifting radio frequencies leading into “American Dreams.”

A music box melody begins “American Dreams,” innocently, quickly speeding up into Tom Morello’s signature guitar work on Rage Against the Machine’s “Know Your Enemy.” The music box melody seeps back in, and Zach de la Rocha barrels into the repeated refrain “all of which are American dreams!” A fast beat, with the powerful vocal sample and melody from the intro joined by additional synth melodies creates a truly original dance track meant for a live show.

Combining digital elements and more organic sounds like funky guitar riffs and ordinary conversation, Laser Sex produces innovative and original material. Crowds are bound to eat up Robot Quotes. Nasser and Falkowski challenge themselves to break musical boundaries and they certainly do so with their new EP. - Kerry McNeil - The Untz.com


"Laser Sex Track Opens Up Premiere Week On The Untz"

Premiere Week on The Untz is kicking off today, with a big one from one our favorite groups. The buoyant Scranton, PA act Laser Sex is back with a new EP this Wednesday. Robot Quotes is well in line with the Laser Sex oeuvre, it's funky, danceable, and refreshing. Mike Nasser and Jeff Felkowski have weaved an intricate balance of samples, guitar and synth work, and innovative beats. To top it all off, the group turned to Padadosio's Anthony Thogmartin for the EP's mastering. Slickly produced, the 6-track album has a distinctive ebb and flow, the mark of a maturing act.

Today's premiere shows a harder edge for the band. Co-opting two tracks from 90's era politicos Rage Against the Machine, "Know Your Enemy" and "Testify," the track "American Dreams" wraps Zach de la Rocha's signature snarl in layers of silky synth. Gurgling and bubbling, the beat undercurrent builds and builds to a climax that pairs Tom Morello's fuzz-laden riffs with bombastic bass, ripping through the end of the track into Zach's rebel yell: all of which are American Dreams. Powerful stuff, my comrades! This isn't your average dance band. Festival announcements are coming soon, make sure you grab the album on 4/20. - The Untz


"Coal-tivating music"

With the economy continuing to trundle along at a snail's pace, music lovers are having to find new ways to enjoy live shows without putting their budget on life support. Sure, much of the population can afford one or two wallet-busting concerts at big venues each year, but we're also forced to cut back on the local shows with the $5-10 cover charges at the door.

With the struggling economy in mind, Eleanor Rigby's co-owner Joe Caviston created the Coal Cracker Music Festival, which will feature a day-long event featuring local acts, vendors and affordable ticket prices. The festival will take place Saturday, Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. and tickets are $16 in advance or $18 at the door.

"This is geared more toward the adults and a more mature audience, and it helps bring in a crowd that's helping to stimulate the entire economy. It'll benefit the restaurants, it'll benefit the stores and the hotels will benefit," said Caviston, who anticipates a crowd of 600 or more for the festival.

Caviston came up with the Coal Cracker name as an homage to the industry that propelled the economy in the 570 years ago, as well as the culm banks just outside his hometown of Carbondale and a short drive from Eleanor Rigby's in Jermyn.

Featured bands include Boombox, Indobox, Hollis Brown, Rogue Chimp, Erthan, Laser Sex, Sonni and the Underwater Sounds, Mat Parsons, Campfire Collective and Beast of Traal. It's an eclectic mix of acts that Caviston put together to attract an older crowd, a change from the punk rock bands that draw the younger, 'tween set.

"We weren't looking for the punk rocker or the hardcore (music). We went with music that everybody can enjoy and really high-quality music," Caviston said. "All of those bands are pretty much the best at what they do."

Caviston pointed to Laser Sex as one act he's particularly happy to have on the bill and a group festival-goers should be sure to see.

"Laser Sex has absolutely blown me away. I went and saw them at the Backyard Ale House not long ago and was completely amazed by those guys," he said. "What they're doing is a lot different from anybody else in the area and they're doing it extremely well, so it was really good to see that."

The festival will also include a pre-party on Friday night with local favorite Mike Miz and the Brooklyn-based soul/funk group Pimps of Joytime. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $10.

- Randy Shemanski - Times-Shamrock Communications


"At Festival, Rock Meets Coal"

The Coal Cracker Music Festival is poised to be a great night out with tons of music you might be compelled to check out.

“This festival is geared toward our older crowd with jam-bands and adult-contemporary sounding bands as opposed to our Big Giant Extravaganza festival which appeals to a younger demographic,” says Joe Caviston, owner and booking agent at Eleanor Rigby’s in Jermyn, which will host the inaugural Coal Cracker fest Saturday, Sept. 18.

Caviston is looking to stimulate the fall economy in NEPA with the Coal Cracker.

“We try to bring business to the surrounding area by getting people out and about,” he says. “Coal Cracker will showcase local talent with national touring acts and give some business to surrounding restaurants and hotels.”

The festival is indoors on one stage. Rigby’s will be selling alcohol, but there is a separate area for people with drinks. GreenBeing, a Scranton-based store, will be on site as a vendor selling environmentally friendly clothing, accessories and more from local designers. If the fest does well, Caviston hopes to have it at a larger venue such as Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain so that it could be outdoors and house larger acts.

The lineup for Coal Cracker includes national touring acts Boombox, from Alabama; Indobox, from Massachusetts; Hollis Brown, from New York; and Sonni Shine & The Under Water Sounds, from Philadelphia. The local acts are Rogue Chimp, Laser Sex, Erthan and Mat Parsons from Scranton, as well as Beasts of Traal, from Marshalls Creek.

There will also be a Coal Cracker pre-party on Friday with The Pimps of Joytime and Miz.

Laser Sex has stylized its own genre combining jam-band elements with a heavy electronic slant and dubbed it jam-tronic. The band consists of Mike Nasser (guitar, bass, synth) Jeff Felkowski (guitar, synth) and Braden Silverman (samples and looping). The band began when Nasser and Felkowski, who were high school friends, started making beats together. They added Silverman as a DJ to fill out their sound, especially in a live environment.

Nasser says he is excited to be a part of the Coal Cracker fest.

“We are looking forward to the experience of playing with more established bands as we are just starting out,” says Nasser. Having made their first beats not even a year ago, Laser Sex has already played shows out of state. “We played the River Street Jazz Caf? open mic, and our first gig was in Baltimore on Bourbon Street.”

Laser Sex already has a free digital EP available online on their bandcamp website: lasersex.bandcamp.com. Nasser said the band is taking promotions very seriously and has already passed out 3,000 CDs at a Disco Biscuits show.

“People are starting to think that we are bigger than we really are,” says Nasser. He also said Laser Sex will be releasing another 10 songs in January. “All of our music will be free forever,” said Nasser.

Laser Sex has a show next Thursday, Sept. 23 at The Note in West Chester, where it will open for Perpetual Groove, and on Sept. 30 at the River Street Jazz Caf?. It is also going to incorporate a more elaborate lightshow into its set.

But first Laser Sex will be gearing up to perform at Coal Cracker.

“Coal Cracker is an homage to the area, the Lackawanna Valley and its history as a coal region,” Caviston says. “Coming down the Casey Highway, you see the giant coal columns, and we want to show that there is a lot of artistic talent in this region, a lot of things happening.”
- The Weekender


"No Recount Necessary"

**UPDATE*** JULY 12th: The band recently changed their name to Laser Sex because they believed Electrocracy was too hard to pronounce.

By day, Braden Silverman works as an optometrist’s assistant, but at night, he drops the bifocals and sight charts for instruments he’s far more interested in – a midi keyboard and a laptop computer equipped with thousands of dollars worth of deejaying software.

Silverman, 22, is one-third of Scranton, Pa. based livetronica band Electrocracy. The other two members, 21-year-old Jeff Felkowski and 26-year-old Mike Nasser have also yet to quit their day jobs, slaving during the daylight hours before morphing into nocturnal beat-masters.

Felkowski still has a year left at the University of Scranton and delivers pizza part-time while Nasser works as a landlord in the band’s hometown of Scranton. But as the trio begins their foray into live performances, with their first official show slated for July 10 at the Bourbon Street Ballroom in Baltimore, they’re hoping to throw down their pizza cutters and plungers for good.


ORIGINAL STYLE, ORIGINAL SOUND

The band has only been together since March, when mutual friends introduced Nasser and Felkowski, who had previously worked on a bluegrass project and even traditional Irish Celtic rock music together, to Silverman, who helped entrench them in the electronic scene.

Nasser and Felkoswki both play guitar, bass and synthesizer while Silverman works as the groups’ DJ. The young band thrives on the concept of recording riffs and jams and sampling them on stage with a DJ to loop it live. During performances, they switch around instruments mid-song to create a fuller sound without the necessity for more musicians.

All three members are equipped with multiple instruments and tricked-out electronic gear, allowing each to loop and distort any sound they create.

“It’s kind of like Keller Williams on crack,” Nasser said with a laugh before taking a more serious tone. “To my knowledge there has never been anyone doing what we’re doing to the extent that we’re doing it.”

“I’m very passionate about the music I’m working on right now,” he added. “If you had asked me that four years ago, I would have said something different.”

Although Nasser said that electronic was new to him before the band formed, the members of the band listed off Papadosio, Ratatat and Big Gigantic as other “organic techno” bands they admire. However, they proudly distinguish themselves from all predecessors.

“Our music doesn’t take itself extremely seriously,” Nasser said. “All we’re trying to do is sell the idea of fun.”

[DOWNLOAD their demo: http://www.sendspace.com/file/qz9tsh]

“It’s really electronic- and funk-influenced,” he continued. “Between electronic and funk, people can’t help but get down to either of them.”

“We definitely are trying to combine different styles of music,” Silverman said. “We do identify somewhat as a jam band but at the same time we want to be making music that people will be able to get down to.”

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

As for what the young band would be called, “we were going to go with the name Martian,” Nasser said. “But a glam rock cover band from New Jersey already had that name.”

So they kept brainstorming and eventually found something that seemed to stick.

“Apparently some asshole coined the phrase ‘electrocracy’ to mean a government run by a super computer after computers become smarter than humans,” Silverman said dejectedly.

Combining their love of electronic music, use of computers and Washington D.C. roots, they adapted the hard-to-pronounce moniker despite its antiquated meaning. (For the record, it’s “el-eck-TROK-ra-see.”)

“People will catch on,” Silverman said with a chuckle. “We have faith.”

Ed note: Apparently, not enough faith as the band changed their name on July 12th to "Laser Sex" due to it being easier to pronounce. My headline is too clever to change so that's staying the same for now. - NR

When it came to naming their songs, they chose to employ free-association.

“Either Jeff and I would write a bass line or a synth line and that becomes the melody,” Nasser said. “And the name comes from whatever we’re thinking of at the time.

[LISTEN to their songs: http://soundcloud.com/electrocracy]

NO TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES

Another way in which Electrocacy sets itself apart is through the use of cutting-edge technology. They all have custom-built Apple computers they call “Hackintoshes” with Ableton and Reason software. All the computers are plugged in to a central recording audio interface and each instrument is hooked into Silverman’s computer that has even more advanced and complex – not to mention expensive – software.

The band depends on communication both in and out of the studio to execute their performances. And with such complex equipment and complicated technology being utilized in order to produce their live show, the band developed a system so they can chat right on stage.

“We have our own audio system hooked up into the audio interface where we have microphones,” Silverman said. “You can’t go wrong with it. You can literally talk to the whole band the whole show. It makes our music that much organized.”

Electrocracy aims to create a sound that’s always changing and always evolving with sections that are completely improvised, and it’s those subtle cues in their ears that will allow them to execute their songs with total precision.

“We have more or less of a skeleton for songs,” Nasser said. “There are parts of songs from our demo that we don’t really change that much but some sections are up in the air.”

“When Mike told me how our music was going to be played live, I didn’t even comprehend it,” Silverman said. “To see it live, I’ve never seen a set up like we have.”

So far, the band has spent over $16,000 in equipment and marketing, but have no qualms about dropping serious dough to get the band rolling: they are confident their investment will pay off and then some.

Electrocracy is also on the forefront of technology with the way they market themselves and give fans a look into their inner workings. The band streams their practices and rehearsals live online.

[FOLLOW Electrocracy on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/electrocracy]

[FOLLOW Electrocracy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Electrocracy]
Silverman said this method gives their fans a chance to see them behind the scene and get comfortable with them as a group. They answer questions live and chat with fans constantly during their practices as they label themselves the first “hands-on electronic band”.

An added bonus during the practice recordings is the ability to hear their internal dialogue, as the microphones are made public for the viewers.

[Watch Electrocracy practice: http://stickam.com/Electrocracy]

Dan Blaemire of music marketing company FanMobilizer, which helps book gigs and publicize the band, has adapted Electrocracy as their first client and is enthusiastic about the bands’ quick progression.

“I just love that they combine dirty electronic danceability with guitar and live synth,” Blaemire said. “It’s a funky new flavor. It’s fun to dance to.”

Blaemire added that since Silverman was a high school friend, it wasn’t hard to get on the same page with both their endeavors. But first and foremost, he’s a fan.

“Before they were even our clients, Braden sent me a link and I listened to their music like ten times,” he said.

ALREADY A HIGH APPROVAL RATING

As the band prepares for its first major live performance in Baltimore, their number one concern is the equivalent of a typo.

“A cord coming out or losing a mouse is what I’m worried about,” Silverman said.

The band is extremely confident and comfortable with their musical prowess, so it’s their ambitious technical set-up that has them most nervous. The band hopes to purchase an elaborate lighting set up in six weeks in time for their fall tour. They also intend to finish their first full-length album by September.

In addition to already having made great strides towards an album and tour, Nasser said the band does have a “six-month plan” and future aspirations, but tries not to get ahead of itself, especially not before their first live show. Ultimately, the band hopes to be playing small festivals and touring extensively by next summer.

“The tough part is having Jeff [Felkowski] still in college,” Nasser said. “We can’t really go too far. But starting December, we’re going to be filling up with tour dates.”

The group said they’ve been encouraged by support from fans online.

“In the past week, I’ve had three people tell me that people they didn’t even know were listening to our stuff in Colorado,” Nasser said.

Silverman agreed quickly but needed a few moments to gather his thoughts.

“You can’t really describe the feeling you get when you log onto your Facebook site and someone writes ‘I got your CD and really liked it.”

“That just takes us from zero to 60,” Nasser piped in.

SUPPORT SYSTEM

Nasser’s father, Bill, said he fully supports his venture into the music industry.

When his son told him he wanted to do music instead of continue his college education, Bill embraced the idea and recommended he take a few years off to pursue it.

“I don’t want you to be my age and think what would it have been like if I had pursued it,” Bill told his son.

“He really does have a unique talent,” he continued. “If any of his siblings had wanted to do something like this, I’d whack them upside the head.“

Bill followed in his own father’s footsteps taking over the family business and though he said he has no regrets over the life he chose, he can’t help but wonder, “what if?”

“If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have done something different,” he said. “If I had pursued something else and I didn’t succeed, I always could have fallen back on the business. And I know he can still do that too. I’m proud of him. Very proud.” - www.headstash.com


Discography

Laser Sex EP (2010)
Robot Quotes (2011)

You can both stream and download both EPs for free at:

http://lasersex.bandcamp.com

Photos

Bio

Laser Sex first formed when, in the fall of 2009, Mike Nasser and Jeff Felkowski started making simple beats using Reason and Pro Tools in Nasser's downtown Scranton studio. After a few months Nasser was introduced to Braden Silverman by a mutual friend while taking lessons in using Ableton Live. Soon after, they began to focus on music production, refining their skills and developing their sound. Since then they have been building a synergy in both the studio and live performance.

Laser Sex uses state of the art computer technology to recreate their studio sound in a live setting. Through the use of Ableton Live software, which allows the band to take live samples of multiple instruments, Laser Sex can stack multiple layers of instrumental samples creating a feeling that there are an enumeration of people playing instruments rather than just the two. Incorporating these samples and live instrumentation, the group provides a surprisingly fresh take on the already exciting and ever evolving jamtronic/electronic musical genre. They prefer to define their genre as "Funktronic."

In the creation their music, Laser Sex gathers inspiration from acts such as Ratatat, The Disco Biscuits, Keller Williams, Pretty Lights, Victor Wooten, Daft Punk, String Cheese Incident, The New Deal and Particle; just to names a few. From song to song Laser Sex's sound continues to take on new shapes keeping their music fresh and the ears of their audience hungry for more. They will constantly challenge themselves to never stay static and realize that there are no limits or boundaries to what they can achieve musically. Laser Sex believes that innovation is where genius lies and they will stop at nothing in their pursuit to achieve just that.