In March 2020, like so many other music groups, local band Electric Kif went from touring throughout the state and performing in jampacked venues to not gigging at all. Rather than take it as an opportunity to rest and recharge, Electric Kif devoted its days during the lockdown to making music. The band's newest album, Dreamlike, set for release on August 6, was created when the quartet was able to immerse itself in the writing process like never before.
The instrumental outfit consists of Jason Matthews (keys), Rodrigo Zambrano (bass), Armando Lopez (drums), and Eric Escanes (guitar), all of whom contributed to the writing and production of Dreamlike.
"Writing is a luxury," Matthews says. "The record is a direct result of the time we had. You could finally sit down and experiment.”
The music on the record is a mixture of what the band members were feeling and the playfulness and experimentation that accompanied their sudden free time. The result: a vibrant listening experience on every track.
Previously, Electric Kif produced more intricate songs that focused on details and ear-catching solos. On Dreamlike, the band instead offers listeners a less demanding listening experience that takes them on a melodic and experiential journey.
“It was all written while we were locked up in quarantine, so maybe you just feel that energy because it represents what we were going through then, our moment in time,” Escanes says.
Everything about the making of this album was different from what the band was used to. Each note was produced with precision, thoughtfulness, and intention. If a certain sound needed fine-tuning, the band would rework, rewire, and rearrange until it felt right.
Lopez says the band wanted this record to be "something that grooves and is easily digestible. Not too much information. Instrumental bands are usually a lot more notes and solos and information, but there are not many solos on this record. It’s more about the song itself and the melodies, groove, and feel."
Another pandemic luxury Electric Kif got to indulge in: working with other well-known musicians. Jazz pianist Aaron Parks, a personal hero and influence, is featured on the album’s title track.
Even with the push to complete the album, Electric Kif continued to take advantage of any opportunities that came its way during the lockdown.
“While we were writing this record, my landlord was like, ‘I wanna have you guys play for the neighborhood,'" Matthews recounts. "So we would do a session in the studio and then bring our equipment out on the street and play for the neighborhood. They’d bring out their lawn chairs, and we would do it every Sunday for a couple of months.”
That feeling of camaraderie and hope spilled on to the eight-song album. A sense of calm, reassurance, and inspiration accompanies Dreamlike. That imagery also influenced the cover art, for which Electric Kif commissioned local artist and musician Adam Robl. Every song has certain colors that accompany its feeling represented in the artwork, making it both auditory and visual experience.
“Marrakush,” the first single off the album, is full of deep reds and oranges, corresponding to the music’s Middle Eastern and worldly influences. The second single, "F.M.B.," is set to drop on May 14 with a video to follow.
“We wanted to make a record that was more groove-base, less in your face, and sonically interesting. ‘Marrakush’ is the first thing that developed,” says Matthews. “We had that song down before the quarantine, and it set the tone for the record."
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