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Students from CalArts's Herb Alpert School of Music Take the Stage of Hollywood's Legendary Troubadour

Students from CalArts's Herb Alpert School of Music Take the Stage of Hollywood's Legendary Troubadour
Soundstream 2019, CalArts’ Laugh Queens rock the Troubadour. Credit: Rafael Hernandez, Courtesy of CalArts.
Click here for high-resolution photo.

The 2020 showcase will feature 9 bands comprising musicians graduating from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

Get ready for the new sounds of next-gen talents at CalArts Soundstream 2020. The annual student-driven showcase of original experimental, indie and pop music comes to West Hollywood’s legendary Troubadour on Monday, February 10. The evening is presented by the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, which has launched such stellar artists as indie sensation Julia Holter; Jiro Yamaguchi, Mario Calire, and Asdrubal Sierra of Ozomatli; and soulful songstress Laura Jean Anderson, as well as pop luminaries like Grammy Award-winning producer Greg Kurstin, co-writer of Adele’s mega-hit “Hello.”

The 2020 showcase will feature 9 bands comprising musicians graduating from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in May. Since its inception, Soundstream has stood testament to the Institute’s famously innovative music school. With sounds ranging from R&B to alt rock and electronica, this year’s showcase continues in that free-wheeling spirit, with performances from such rising bands and artists as NMND, Tauri, My Boyfriend, Bridgette Blank, Skullmatter, Vicken Hovsepian, Makalo, Bart Tholamew, and J.Lyn.

Music industry representatives are invited to the showcase as part of the Institute’s mission to provide career development and professional training opportunities to its students. CalArts Music Source is another example of the Institute’s real-world training in professional practices. This alumni-run management agency is a project of the Herb Alpert School of Music and was developed to coordinate bookings for student musicians and offer a variety of talent for performance and private instruction. 

About the bands:

A beautifully simple and technologically tumultuous affair, NMND is an electro duo based in Los Angeles. Producer and technologist Mclean Macionis’ unconventional approach to beats, found sound, and hardware synths; and Mana with her unique cross-genre approach to melody, harmonies, and rhythmic modulation come together to create an ever-evolving emotional narrative through sound. Their first EP, “Integration”, due to launch late January 2020, focuses on the evolution and manipulation of the human voice through technology and live performance.

Lush R&B grooves with complex electronic textures, Tauri is a hyperpop artist. Originally from New York City, Tauri moved across country to hone in on her unique sound and study music technology in the artistic bubble that is CalArts. With a strong background in live sound engineering and songwriting, Tauri has worked in various venues around Los Angeles and with songwriters from around the world. She currently works with producer, art director, 3D artist, and fellow CalArts alum, newStatic, on all her projects. newStatic’s early experiences in playing in metal bands and studying various branches of music composition, including video game and film scores, became essential in carving out the sound that is Tauri's music today. Tauri has been described as eloquently weaving accessible elements of indie pop and R&B with avant-garde electronic rock to forge a growing experimental sound emanating from the West Coast. 

With tongue-in-cheek lyricism, Bridgette Blank is an acoustic/electric folk-pop singer/songwriter. Her music revolves around the fun stuff: heartbreak, self-doubt, and mental illness. While the content is quite sad, she keeps it light with bright melodies and tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

In an alt.-1960s where the Beatles took nonfunctional antidepressants, Normal-Core band My Boyfriend is an ensemble formed by front-man, instrumentalist and composer Jon Paul Arciniega. The group aims to perpetuate the spirit, playfulness, and humor of American popular music at its best, while ensuring that the music is earnest.

Skullmatter exudes big goth energy and is a producer and DJ of Wave and Bass music. His tracks aim to bring euphoria back into our lives in the darkest and deepest form, a reminder that everything will be alright in a noisy world. His performances exude confidence, incorporating gothic overtones with a nod to vintage soundscapes, creating a memorable show both sonically and visually. 

A progressive-metal group is formed out of the musical visions of bandleader/director Vicken Hovsepian. With a unique approach to the progressive metal style, Vicken Hovsepian and his band take you on a musical journey full of ethereal ambiance and raw heaviness.

Fronted by singer and guitarist Nehemiah Stark, Makalo is an 11-piece multicultural band. Following the Afropop rebel traditions that inspired the band, Makalo’s music is centered in storytelling around injustice and the restoration of dignity to the struggling soul. Grounded in hypnotic tenor guitar lines, singers Stefany Glik, Andrea Turk, and Kelsey Gomez cut into Nehemiah’s smooth leading vocal lines with fierce responses that often hold the songs’ deepest messages. Bassist Navid Naima and drummer David Velazco provide a deep pocket for the big band, letting the brass section (Evan Wendell and Joey Archie, trumpet, Anna Barlevy, trombone, and Evan O’Brien, saxophone) soar and even explode. Meanwhile, Marley Wall’s solid but delicate touch on the piano is the glue. Their first song “Make Sense” was written to address sexual violence and explore the process of being an earnest ally to survivors.

Bart Tholamew is an independent songwriter, with music that displays alternative-ambient vibrancy. Writing songs since he was seven, Tholamew has been singing his heart out, learning to surround himself with guitar, ukulele, synthesizer and drum loops from his looper pedals and vocoders, bringing the layers of his somber yet uplifting voice together with acoustic-electronic vibrancy. A New York native, Bart has performed in various festivals, coffee shops and stages from NY to CA, including Doty Hall and the Wild Beast Performance Center. Bart Tholamew’s live looping incorporates a pleasant variety of ambient and lo-fi sounds. His playing style has a noticeable foundation in jazz and influences from indie, R&B, surf pop, and alternative rock. On stage, he mixes ambient vocals, experimental guitar practices, lo–fi synthesizer melodies and drum samples to wrap the audience in a blanket of soothing and eye–opening reverberations. Bart currently studies Experimental Popular Music at CalArts.

Ballad pop singer J.Lyn’s music is sentimental, poignant, and most of all, relatable. J.Lyn gathers inspiration from other people’s life experiences and shapes them into her music. She finds resonating points through simple, yet effective lyricism and jazz and soul-inspired chord progressions. Her voice is soft and pure, creating memorable lines that linger in your head after one listen. Her approach to music is minimal, letting the words and melodies shine through her acoustic arrangements. 

Calendar Editors Please Note:

What: CalArts Soundstream 2020

When: Monday, February 10, 2020, 8:00pm

Where: The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

Admission: Free with RSVP, Register here to attend performance