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Tuesday October 21st 2014

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Hangout Fest ’14—Showing Their Sounds

By Jessica Forbes

Technology is an important point of discussion when it comes to Gemini Club’s musical output. When you’re dancing at the Chicago-based band’s set on Friday, the lights you’ll see flashing from the stage aren’t purely for aesthetics—the band is showing you the digital elements behind their sound, often described as indie electronica.

“In the same way that we really wouldn’t have Jimi Hendrix and rock ‘n’ roll without the electric guitar, or hip-hop without the sampler, I think our era is one defined by the computer,” stated Dan Brunelle, musician and producer in Gemini Club. “It’s a little bit nerdy, maybe a little bit academic, but I believe that laptops and MIDI-controllers and all of the new technologies, generally speaking, are really the instruments of our time.”

In his bandmates, Brunelle has found kindred spirits in the pursuit of synthesizing electronic and traditional music. Brunelle and vocalist Tom Gavin first met while attending Columbia College in Chicago, later meeting DJ Gordon Bramli and drummer Ryan Luciani to form the quintet that now writes, records and performs as Gemini Club.

“The goal was to create an expressive instrument out of the components of laptops and MIDI controllers,” Brunelle explained of the custom software and equipment he devised—the band’s live re-mix rig that allows Bramli to recompose elements of their songs in the moment.

As a music composition student, Brunelle recalled he was looking for a way to create music that was distinct and decidedly contemporary. “I think part of that education gave me a belief in the structures and the systems of music as much as the expressive qualities of it,” Brunelle said, who delved into the world of Controllerism and custom digital music production software while Gemini Club was taking shape.

“From crawling the forums and thinking about it myself, I just thought of the right structure for us to have a sincere performance, but using those technologies. We flip our rigs out so the crowd can see exactly what knobs are being pressed. We have LED feedback, so every note that I play shows up in a visible way to the crowd,” he said.

But not to fear if you are already familiar with the band’s recordings—the fundamental components of the songs remain the same in Gemini Club’s live performances. “We play our songs structured just like a regular rock band does,” Brunelle said, explaining Bramli does the bulk of the remix work using the elements of the song that the members aren’t playing, live. “A lot of electronic musicians just hit play one time, and in a sense Gordon hits play 65, 70 times in a song. Everything is broken up into its small bits and then it’s recomposed by him.”

With two previous EPs under their belts—“Future Tidings” was released in 2009 and “Here We Sit” in 2012—the band has been hard at work writing over the past several months, including utilizing Red Bull Studios in L.A., where they had just completed a second session at the time Brunelle spoke with the IN.

“We’ve been really throwing a lot at the wall lately,” Brunelle said of their recent efforts, which have yielded approximately 60 songs in four months, currently in various stages of completion. “I’m really happy with what we’ve got. It’s going to be a wide range of things.”

The band hopes to release a single from the album this summer, around the time of Lollapalooza, Chicago’s famed music festival at which they will perform. As for Hangout, it will be Gemini Club’s first foray into the Southeast, and Brunelle reported that the band is looking forward to playing the beach. “We’re pretty excited about it. It sounds like it’s a really gorgeous festival.”

Gemini Club
Friday, 7:30—8:45 p.m.
Red Bull Sound Select Stage