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Another Rainy Saturday’s kickoff party, starring Viper Creek Club

Viper Creek Club

{Viper Creek Club plays Another Rainy Saturday’s kickoff party next Saturday, January 22 at Columbia City Theater with Concours d’Elegance, Katie Kate and Tea Cozies, 9pm, $8, 21+.}

Last summer, I wondered here whether Viper Creek Club was the “Northwest’s best kept secret?” A lot has changed since then for the electronic duo of Mat Wisner and Brandon Jensen: they’ve played CMJ (and blogged about it here), released their fantastic debut album Letters, been named one of Guerrilla Candy’s ten best breakthrough bands of 2010, and The Stranger said of their remixing local hip hop artists, “If Viper Creek Club haven’t remixed you, you ain’t shit.”

Of that subheadline (that article, written by Charles Mudede, is called “This is the New Sound”), Wisner said in an interview earlier this week, “That’s a pretty awesome title, I was pretty happy about that.” He’s quick to note, “That’s not a headline that I would have ever written myself and there are a lot of people I would really like to remix that we just haven’t gotten the chance to, like Champagne Champagne.”

For the past several months, I would get an e-mail from Wisner what seemed like every week with a new remix of mostly local hip hop songs by some of the best and most known artists in the scene: Blue Scholars, Grynch, Mad Rad, Sol, Mash Hall, Fresh Espresso and more. They are consistent in quality but not in sound, with often radically different interpretations of already known songs. In the spring, those remixes, and a few others that haven’t been shared before, will be compiled into one collection, to be released by the local label Member’s Only. Wisner tells some of the details around the release and it’s next release party, “It’s ten tracks and it’s probably going to come out April 1st and that’s about when we expect the release show to be. Member’s Only is pressing the release copies. Parker from Member’s Only and State of the Artist is mastering it and has a track on it that’s unreleased. There will be three or four tracks of the ten tracks that haven’t been heard. It’ll be pressed next month hopefully. We’ll probably do some DJ gigs to support it prior to April 1 and then the release show is us doing a remix set and several of the artists involved doing their songs. A few of the artists doing their own sets before that.”

Of remixing in general, Wisner told me, “The idea behind the project is that these songs now are different but they aren’t necessarily better or worse, but they’re different and they’re good. If they were similar but good, it’s kind of a wash and if they’re different but bad, that’s not good.” Later he noted that, “The hip hop remixes I do aren’t really even hip hop, they’re more pop, synthy stuff.”

In that article from The Stranger, Mudede wrote of their remixing local hip hop artists, “it marks the first solid, artistic connection between local indie rock and indie hiphop. In the past, such connections were at best minor experiments that usually ended badly. In Viper Creek Club’s remixes, we hear a connection that’s convincing and alive with an energy that’s genuinely new.” More thoroughly, the paper added, “These remixes are the night to their album’s day. They are harder, heavier, more electrical. None of the original tunes on Letters has the power (or even desires the power) to dominate a dance floor like their remix of Fresh Espresso’s “The Lazerbeams,” a rump and thump of robot funk. Letters is one thing (cool, moody, thoughtful); these remixes are something else (raunchy, rambunctious, galactic).”

Jensen explained that “Remixing is like writing a song and if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen and if it’s not, it’s not.” Wisner agreed, “Right, the best songs go quick. The best remixes I’ve done have gone quick because I feel the song and things start to fall into place rapidly and I’m super into it and I feel creative. When I start struggling and getting into a negative vibe and putting in pieces that are good but I still start second guessing it, that’s where it gets tough. I’ll put something in and think it sounds like shit.”

Wisner does almost all of the remixing, though Jensen has tried. He says, “I’ll try to remix things and it turns out like shit and can’t do it, but I can sit down with my guitar and write a song, I can definitely do that. I think it’s that way with remixes for Mat. He clicks with that kind of stuff. I have to be way more organic. I think that’s why we work as a band. The concept of the remix is that you have a vocal that is at a certain beat per minute. There’s a confinement that makes me not want to do it.” He said, “I had this idea in my head to remix Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ and it turned out to be the worst piece of crap I’ve ever heard. I wish I tried to cover it instead of remixing it.” That’s, of course, an iconic song and one that would be difficult and intimidating to remix anyway as it is so revered and technically flawless.

Wisner is quite prolific and usually works very quickly when remixing songs. He told me, “The ones that really click don’t take much time at all. When it’s not working, about a quarter of the time, it’s not going to end up being anything good anyway.” He also added, ‘The best remixes I’ve done have gone quick because I feel the song and things start to fall into place rapidly and I’m super into it and I feel creative. When I start struggling and getting into a negative vibe and putting in pieces that are good but start second guessing it. That’s where it gets tough. I’ll put something in and think it sounds like shit.”

They both believe that that is what makes the partnership work, as Jensen told me, “I’m the opposite. I’ll try to remix things and it turns out like shit and can’t do it, but I can sit down with my guitar and write a song, I can definitely do that. I think it’s that way with remixes for Mat. He clicks with that kind of stuff. I have to be way more organic. I think that’s why we work as a band.” They both work very quickly and know when an idea works. Jensen said of their song ‘Eliza’ (the first single from Letters and my favorite track of theirs), “I’m pretty sure for me it was two takes to write my guitar line. It maybe took 15 minutes for me to have the guitar parts for that.”

Viper Creek Club photo by Dave Lichterman.

Chris

Chris Burlingame is the editor of Another Rainy Saturday.