Tomorrowland. Ultra Music Festival. Global Gathering. EDM is tuning up a storm worldwide. Pushing the envelope further, Live With A Boom collective Mn’JAM Experiment amalgamate electric, electronic, and acoustic music with visual arts. Helmed by M (Melissa Oliveira de Sousa; vocals) and JAM (João Artur Moreira; visuals & turntables), the collaborate aims to create a synesthetic experience. All set to stage the multi-media performance at Akshara Theatre on December 7, they share, “Every performance is a unique experience.” Unveiling the alchemy of experimental music, we get talking to these tune sorcerers about music beyond sound.
Graduating in jazz performances from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, “search for a fresh project” inspired M to kick-start Mn’JAM Experiment. Armed with her compositions and loop station/vocal effects, the Jojo Mayer admirer was intent on distancing herself from the traditional paradigm of jazz. With seeds of an electronic & visual arts collective sowed in JAM’s mind, they brought on board Virxilio da Silva (guitar), José Carlos Barbosa (bass), and Tuur Moens (drums). Talking about their inclination towards offbeat music, they share, “It’s all about the concept and elements of your art. Pushing the boundaries comes naturally to us. It’s no different from those staying inside the traditional confines.” Translating their role in the music industry as innovators – musicians furthering new styles, traditions, and methods, so one day they become the norm, they say, “While interpreters bring to life previously constructed compositions, methods, and concepts, we look at the world analogously and believe that the future of music lies with live performances.” As the tide of time metamorphosed Nokia 5110 into Nokia 8, Mn’JAM opine, “There will come a point when ‘music’ will be a primordial starting point to an activity that involves expression of thoughts through different sensorial mediums like smell, vision, hearing, etc, aided by technology.” For now the adventure of each performance keeps them going, “We can never suffer from boredom as we never play songs the same way every time.”
Strong advocates of reaching an audience beyond music enthusiasts, Mn’JAM Experiment is levelling the emphasis on visuals and music. “Music and images are not that different. Physics takes into account light and sound waves. In biology sound and images are interrelated,” opines JAM. The process of amalgamating the two is not unidirectional for MnJAM, “We play around by designing sounds to images and other times images to sounds.” Creating a set of moving images, JAM decodes their range, movement, and intensity to engineer a series of sounds that are synchronised with optics and vice versa. “The brightness of the image is matched with dynamics of the sound, and movement with pitch,” he unveils. Currently experimenting with lighting to add another layer to their multi-medium performances, JAM uses illumination as a conductor for musicians on stage. With a goal that is ocular rather than aural, he is often regarded as a visual musician. “I am constantly taking advantage of technological evolution,” he confesses. Exploration always triumphs for music innovators and while digital is the only known way for millennials, analogue never hindered experimentation. “A century ago, the drum set was quite a technological endeavour. Pulleys and levers controlled pedals that would close distant cymbals or hit drums to allow each drummer to construct their own kit,” shares JAM.
A mix of rationally constructed elements, urban rhythms and traditional melodies; vocal loops and guitar solos; turntables and acoustic drums, their tunes illustrate a wide range of possibilities. “We are fortunate to live in an era with considerable history and tradition. It would be a shame not to utilise the full spectrum of the acoustic instruments (drums and double bass), electric instruments (electric guitar), and electronic sounds (turntables) available,” share Mn’JAM. Wordless melodies, textures of unaltered voice using TC-Helicon loop station, and digital effects that transform real time voice into that of a choir or robot or anything imaginable – the leading lady executes it seamlessly.
Visuals, lighting, electronica, jazz, Mn’JAM Experiment offers a journey into the realm of music experimentation. And as they get set to strum their tunes in #OurCity, we bid adieu, but not before we reserve our seats for a symphonic Thursday night.
Featured Image Courtesy: Charlotte Steunebrink – charlottesteunebrink.nl