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Hughes plugs along with his electonica

Fri., May 21, 2004

Jeremy Hughes exists in two (and a half) realities. He stands out in the local rock scene as guitarist for favorites Chinese Sky Candy.

But the guitarist/composer remains crouched in the grimiest corners of the underground as an electronic musician and a hip-hop producer who has a tough time finding work.

In all three modes, Hughes’ music is sophisticated without being over the top.

Often described as math-rock, Chinese Sky Candy lays hard-to-follow time signatures beneath alluring rock riffs. His electronica employs elements of rock, ambient, down-tempo, and hip-hop. His hip-hop takes the boom-bap tradition to a different dimension.

Sort of a Spokane version of Trent Reznor, Hughes plugs in his electronic music (Pro-Tools, break-beat drum samples, guitars, bass, and a variety of synthesizers) to perform songs from his debut, “Living Room,” at 9:30 tonight at The Twilight Room, 112 S. Monroe. Suggested donation is “the price of a shot of Wild Turkey,” Hughes said. David Griffith opens the show with live bass and programmed drums.

When Hughes performs, he generally plays one live instrument over as many as 24 pre-programmed tracks for digital symphonies of his virtual selves. It’s the result of residual energy from working with Sky Candy and as a hip-hop producer, Hughes said.

Conceived and recorded in his living room lab, Prairie House Studio, his solo debut was released on Central Services, recently launched locally by Hughes’ partner in production, Erick Beats, a.k.a. Erick Bergloff. Of the 12 tracks on “Living Room” only the last two songs use samples.

“‘Living Room’ was designed to be tuned down, tolerable for a bunch of doctors for a Christmas party,” said Hughes, 27. “I don’t know how tuned down the songs were, but there was no heckling.”

A mostly self-taught guitarist and classically trained pianist who prefers to play by ear, Hughes’ earliest musical influences were bad hair metal bands (Ratt’s the only one he would admit to on the record) and his grandma, who played organ when he was young.

Hughes got his bachelor’s degree in music composition at Eastern Washington University and studied piano only “because they didn’t offer guitar.”

“I wish I would have played cello. I don’t really use my training from piano,” said Hughes, who sampled a few string instruments in college. “Cello was way easier than violin.”

Hughes has plans to head for Mills College in Oakland in the fall to earn his master’s degree in electronic music and recording media. In the meantime, he said “Chinese Sky Candy should have a new album out before I bail.”

To hear tracks from “Living Room,” go to blogs/soundwave.


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