The 13th annual Sound Off! at the Experience Music Project (EMP) at Seattle Center is set to bring a ton of new musical acts to your ears beginning this Saturday, Feb. 8.
Local band Dames will be performing the first weekend of Sound Off! against bands Laser Fox, Sophia Duccini and Tommy Cassidy. Beginning in late 2011, the five-piece heard about Sound Off! through the Tacoma School of the Arts, which several of the band members attend. They describe their music as “pretty casual and fun… (We) get inspiration from Vampire weekend and Mac DeMarco.”
The group also commented that they “are most looking forward to getting our name out there. . . it’s cool to get that kind of recognition and we are also excited to see the crowd’s reaction and mostly just have fun with it all.”
Another Sound Off band, Manatee Commune, will be playing the second weekend of Sound Off! against bands Nabii Ko$mo, The Onlies, and Thee Samedi. Grant Eadie is a one-man band from Bellingham with previous Sound Off! experience, having played in the band Soccer Moms last year before he split off to pursue a
Eadie commented that “I have no real ambitions for Sound Off; I just wanted to meet really cool people around my age who are passionate about the same things and get a chance to make art together.”
In describing his sound, “I would probably define it as chill wave, and it is definitely experimental but still accessible,” Eadie said. He draws inspiration from being in the Northwest and trying to capture the feeling of his environment.
The final weekend will be showcasing bands such as Fauna Shade, Ksneak, Calico the Band, and Otieno Terry. Fauna Shade, an Everett-based alternative indie rock band, comments on their hopes for Sound Off by saying: “we are mostly looking to meet cool people, get some notoriety for our music and get to play in the sky church at the EMP.”
The group have been playing together for four months now and heard about Sound Off! from the Everett Music Youth Initiative. They commented that they “never imagined we would play in something like this.”
The event, which looks to showcase the talent of young bands from the area, accepts bands of all genres including electronic, indie, hip-hop and folk. Sound Off! has been hosted at the EMP since 2001, and has helped many local bands including The Lonely Forest, Brite Futures, Dyme Def, Sol, and Macklemore get a foothold into the music industry.
Event Coordinator Jessi Reed comments that Sound Off! “serves as a launching pad for musicians looking to get into the business and also helps rejuvenate the young music scene in Seattle.”
The event is broken into three weekends typically in the beginning of each calendar year, with each weekend previewing four of the twelve bands accepted to perform. These bands are “judged on technical ability and musicianship, creativity and originality and compositions and arrangements,” Reed said. One band from each weekend is chosen for the final round along with a “wild card” band, which is voted into the competition by the EMP’s Youth Advisory Board, a group of teens with a passion for the arts and music.
The winner of Sound Off! receives gear, studio time, radio airplay and consultations with music industry professionals, as well as a highly coveted spot in the Seattle’s annual Bumbershoot festival lineup. It also allows young musicians a chance to network with other talent in the area, and results in a diverse environment that “is really unique, and might expose you to different sounds that you’ve never heard before,” Reed said.
The Sound Off! shows are unique in that you will be exposed to four very different sounding bands in one show. “It’s a positive environment of people coming to support local talent, it’s kind of like a big happy family,” Reed said.
Sound Off! will begin its four-week festival on Feb. 8, with performances in the consecutive weekends, and the finals on March 1. Tickets are sold online on the EMP museum website, and range from $8 to $12.