In its five years of life, the Terrain indie-art extravaganza has assumed the role as Spokane tastemaker for breaking underground talent in obscure genres of both visual and aural realms.
With its collaborative nature, Terrain organizers coined the term “Wonderground” for their loose collective of volunteer supporters, promoters, coordinators and artists.
These are the performance painters who make the show posters and the bands that play their gallery openings and booking agents who deliver to venues such as dive bars, boxing rings, and bank vaults.
Along with uncovering new blood in the local talent pool, Terrain also draws regional and national off-the-radar acts to the area, connecting the dots between local voices and listeners with the national conversation.
Given that context, the co-headlining bill of Velella Velella and OCNotes is a parallel metaphor.
Velella Velella is an analog-obsessed indie-funk group with Spokane roots. The band got its start alongside local legends such as James Pants and Jeremy Hughes, playing esoteric electronic compositions as a duo – often to an empty room. The group would one day blossom into a Seattle-Portland quintet-sometimes-quartet well-known for fever-pitch party funk-a-thons.
Before leaving Spokane, Velella Velella could hardly draw a crowd. Nine years later they came back to headline Elkfest in June.
Once overlooked and underrated, these days Velella Velella’s brand of psychedelic indie-funk is a hallmark of hipster music.
As former Spokane journalist and Seattle Times writer Andrew Matson described: “… the band moved to Seattle, underwent personnel/style mutations, and developed its fascinating/alienating broken beat into slick, soul-saving future funk.”
Velella Velella recently released its third studio CD, “Atlantis Massif.”
The album was like a resurrection for Velella Velella.
“Atlantis Massif” was released as uncertainty was threatening to strangle the life out of a band whose members are evenly split between Portland and Seattle.
In the wake of weddings, births and deaths in the family, Velella Velella sequestered itself for three weekends of recording last fall, bringing about a new commitment by the band’s members in the form of soul-drenched grooves and synth bliss.
Coming back reinvigorated and celebrating the fun parts of being in a band, Velella Velella has also made it a point to celebrate the region its members are stretched across; the band sparked its own Bi-City Romance festival in August, featuring Seattle and Portland bands.
Among the area artists Velella Velella has aligned itself with is Otis Calvin III, aka OCNotes.
OCNotes is a rapper from Seattle who also appears as a solo-singer songwriter, often singing stinging songs of sorrow and social stigma. OCNotes is also a member of a group called Metal Chocolates and is co-leader of Big Band Cinema.
In preparation for Terrain, Velella Velella and OCNotes are planning a hybrid set with a seamless transition from one band to the other that will find both projects playing simultaneously at the peak of the performance … metaphorically tying together Spokane, Seattle, Portland, and various influences, intersections, and expressions that shape the culture of the Northwest corner they share.