Current Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 19:58:27 -0400
Even for a low-key local band, there’s always some degree of hoopla surrounding any new record release. There’s the press, the readying of the record itself and the inevitable much-hyped release show.
A record by itself isn’t enough for UNC alumni Andrew Hamlet and Mat Jones. As Pressed And, they create thick and dreamy electronic tunes that are quickly gaining them national attention. The pair will debut its project titled next week at the Varsity Theater.combines each of the seven tracks on Pressed And’s new record of the same name with a video. Hamlet called the project an “audio-visual experiment,” but the visual part didn’t come until the album had already been completed.
“It started off as just an album that Mat and I put together, but when we were finished with it, we realized it was very visually evocative, so we thought that it would be good to have videographers visualize it,” Hamlet said.
Pressed And recruited seven different teams of videographers — two of which feature other UNC alumni — to handle the videos. The visual elements to are odd and impressionistic. The video for “Blue Noun” features clips of old sci-fi films, while “Shoreditch” focuses on a jogger and a mysterious shaman-like figure lurking in the woods.
Behind each video is a veritable jungle of sound. Some are a little softer and spooky, others lean on grinding beats. Jones saw both the music videos as simply natural expressions rather than something more goal-oriented.
“We go by feel, and we just try to stay in touch with how we’re feeling and let it come from there and not try to make anybody think a certain way or try to push you to any kind of point,” Jones said.
Hamlet credited his initial involvement in electronic music to his enrollment in a class taught by UNC professor Mark Robinson — COMM 431: Advanced Audio Production.
Though Hamlet had experience playing guitar, the class and later independent study under Robinson were “greatly responsible” for getting him into making electronic music.
“He actually makes you deal with sound and have to learn what sound is and how you work with it,” Hamlet said. Without Robinson — and by extension, the University itself — there would be no or Pressed And.
“If you’re proactive enough to make it your own, you can learn about music,” Hamlet said about the University.
“It’s all here, you have to be the one that puts it together.”
An integral part of making music work is having an audience to hear it, and Hamlet found an easy way to do that: through the University that had helped inspire him to begin with. When he first contacted Allison Portnow and the Ackland Art Museum about getting Pressed And involved, the timing couldn’t have been better.
Portnow organizes the Ackland Film Forum and works with the Carolina Collects exhibition, which brings in art created by UNC graduates.
“It’s all about how art plays a role in UNC alumni’s lives,” she said.When Portnow heard how much the school had permeated the project, she was thrilled to host the event.
Portnow said she’s excited to exhibit more art by UNC graduates to current students — especially when students get to be a part of it for free.
“We just hope that students see what a great opportunity it is to just come and have amazing art that’s been made by recent alumni and all sorts of other filmmakers for the rest of the series, that they’ll just take the opportunity to see all of this amazing art for free,” Portnow said.
Pressed And’s biggest challenge right now is figuring out how to handle so much at once. Hamlet and Jones are looking at recording a Daytrotter session in Illinois, possibly performing at the South by Southwest music festival and remixing songs by Lefse Records artists for a release next year.
“Things have been kind of taking off more than we thought,” Hamlet said.
With its growing recognition, the band must also find a balance between its recordings and its live performances.
“I want to play more shows, but my favorite part is probably just making things — talking to Andrew about making more things, planning out what we want to do,” Jones said.
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