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Wild Up takes a twist on classical music with 'future folk'

Wild Up: West

Christopher Roundtree conducts wild Up: West , a contemporary music ensemble from Los Angeles as they perform a concert at Roulette, part of the Sonic Music Festival, on October 20, 2015.

Photo Credit: ©Stephanie Berger.

Transcending the divide between the performer and the audience is the goal of Wild Up, a Los Angeles-based folk band. 

The band will perform on Feb. 4 at the Hill Hall auditorium. The following week, they will be hosting public workshops for a project called “We The People.” 

Workshops will focus on creating new music about social justice. This music will be performed at CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio on Franklin Street on Feb. 8. 

“Imagine all types of music meeting, and they all have the same goal to transcend our consciousness,” said Christopher Rountree, founder of the group. “Minimalisms, garage band sounds, group chanting and early 20th century influences all play into our sound.” 

Wild Up makes itself unique as a band by focusing on relationships over instrumental roles. 

“On paper we may look like an orchestra, but we could do the show with 15 guitarists because it is more about improvisation and how people interact,” Rountree said. 

A relationship with the audience is crucial for the goal of Wild Up to diffuse the hard line between the stage and the audience.

“It’s not just about the people performing, being lit, and the audience sitting in the dark feeling unimportant and clapping when told to clap," Rountree said. "We don’t want to alienate anyone.” 

The inspiration for the group came from listening to many artists including Alexander Scriabin, a Russian classical composer in the late 19th century, and Moondog, a composer, to form its own interpretation of "future folk." The group has since grown to encompass a collective of passionate musicians willing to take risks, said Linnea Powell, managing director of Wild Up.

Powell also doubles as one of Wild Up’s violists. All the group's administrators are also musicians in the band. 

“I think that having a self-governing ensemble makes it feel like a collective,” Powell said. “Knowing that decisions are made by those also on the stage makes it feel that we are seeing everybody’s best interest.”

Wild Up is on tour two months a year and does performances around the United States and beyond. Rountree said their target audience is curious people who enjoy a wealth of music and genres because Wild Up defies musical classification. The band uses its ambiguity and creativity to align with the idea of a future utopia.

Jana Jackson, director of marketing and communications for Carolina Performing Arts, said she is excited for the involvement and interaction that will stem from Wild Up’s time at UNC.

“Wild Up will give people the power to change the world through art, or to better understand the world through art," Jackson said. "This is an amazing thing we can bring to the campus and the community in general."  

Jackson said she hopes Wild Up will continue to return to Chapel Hill to inspire the community and to help dive into the unique experiences in the town.

Rountree said Wild Up aims not only to explore musical possibilities, but also to make it accessible for all people. 

“Not only do we go into a community and make something new, but we also learn from the exchange of ideas," Rountree said. "Often permeability and flow of ideas is really lacking, but we are excited for ‘Future Folk’ and ‘We The People’ to continue stressing this two-way relationship by helping the community become a conduit for its own discourse.”

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