Specdrums Rings Turn Color Into Sound With A Drum Kit At Your Fingertips

By: Hannah Oreskovich

When Steven Dourmashkin first went away to college at Cornell University, there was one thing he couldn’t pack up and bring with him to his dorm room: his drum kit. After two years of design and product development, nine major iterations, and one issued patent, Dourmashkin, who is now a PhD candidate at CU Boulder in Aerospace Engineering, finally developed a solution. Meet Specdrums: 

Specdrums, a simple and comfortable ring you wear on your fingers, turn colors into sound, “allowing you to tap on different shades to create an infinite combination of tunes.” That’s right- whether you cover your dorm room in post it notes, tap your clothes on your coffee break, or head to Boulder Creek for a sound sesh like Steven did in the video above, Specdrums will register colors with sound you tap out, all while fitting in your pocket. You can also record your sounds and share them with others, who can add or listen to the tracks, all through the Specdrums app. And the rings can be connected to Garage Band or Ableton, giving those more experienced in music and tech a chance to further produce the compositions they create, and leading us to ask, "Where's that Specdrums sample at?!"

Steven Dourmashkin.

Steven Dourmashkin.

Said Dourmashkin, “Growing up as a drummer, I would tap on everything whenever I was away from my drum set. I was determined to create the most portable drumming machine, capable of turning my taps into real percussion sounds. But what we’ve created is more than just a drumming tool- it’s a new instrument that makes musical creation in general more accessible, welcoming, and fun.”

Specdrums.

Specdrums.

Specdrums recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund further production of the rings- they’ve raised close to 81k (their goal was 15k) with about 930 backers at the time of this publication, and they still have two weeks to go on the campaign.

Needless to say, CU Boulder’s Steven Dourmashkin is on to something, and thanks to him, you may soon have that much needed drum kit at your fingertips…

Read more on Specdrums here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

"Let's Build An Album Together!": Riley Ann's Latest Project Is All About Fem Rock

By: Claire Woodcock

Colorado's Riley Ann is ready to release her latest batch of songs. There’s just one problem:

“I want to move forward with not only recording this project, but also my whole music career. But when there are so many bands willing to play for so little, it’s hard to make a living as an artist. If you turn down a non-paying gig, there’s someone else behind you who’s willing to play for exposure. It undercuts everyone else and it really has a negative impact on the entire music community.”

Riley Ann’s path from fiddling folk in Illinois with The Matriarchs to her dynamic one-woman folk rock band paved her route to Colorado. Since her move in the fall of 2015, her presence and drive have initiated various collaborations, like her Old-time duo The Darling Ravens, and a new bluegrassy pop trio, DJ Meow Mix & the Grabbers.

“Although I have several musical projects going, this album is my passion project. Now that I’m back from tour, I’m getting an all-female rock band together. My new tunes need a full band, and that’s the perfect way to showcase them live.” she recently told me.

Riley Ann.

Riley Ann.

Her story of how, in a year, she became a vocal advocate for musicians to get paid a living wage for their art, is a story that many music transplants in Colorado’s bumping scene have had to grapple with.

“Artists deserve to get paid for their art. Playing simply for exposure devalues the music,” she said. “And when that mentality spreads, how do musicians make a living? It’s not going to be through album sales or digital sales. On Spotify I get one-tenth of a cent per listen. You can’t make a living on that.”

Riley Ann launched her Kickstarter campaign in November, teasing her first single “Bloodhounds,” which was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jay Elliott (IntroVertigo Recording) and Dominick Maita Mastering, both of whom are based in Boulder, Colorado. The single is an authentic sample of Riley Ann’s new sound from the forthcoming album, which features a full rock band.

“Bloodhounds” is dark and gritty, with roots in Old-time and a heart in rock’n’roll. Riley Ann’s single was recently featured on Colorado Sound as part of Chris K’s Colorado Playlist. Her vocals are vibrant, carrying the same electric currents in the realm of female frontwomen like Angel Olsen, St. Vincent or Mount Moriah.

“I’m excited to get these songs out into the world and I don’t want to risk having to record them one at a time as I can afford them,” she reasons. “Because the longer I wait, the longer they’re going to sit, and the more dated they’re going to sound. They sound current, they sound contemporary, and they just fit right now within this renewed appreciation for the fem rock scene. It’s kind of like when Mumford & Sons came out. Everyone tried to sound like Mumford & Sons, but by the time everyone began to sound like Mumford, it was too late.”

Riley Ann’s presence in the Boulder music scene is remarkable. Not only has she founded the Coalition of Women Songwriters organization, where she’s connecting female musicians with jam and performance opportunities, empowering them to tour, write, and negotiate a living wage for their art. She also volunteers with Girls Rock Denver, a nonprofit camp that helps teen girls find their voice and form bands and collaborations. Riley Ann has proven herself throughout the past year to be a musician dedicated to building up the community around her.

“I don’t want to nickel and dime this album, I want to do it right,” she says. “And using crowdfunding is the way for me to expedite this whole process and get these songs out into the world as soon as possible.”

Riley Ann’s Kickstarter campaign ends in just a few days, so make sure to give it a view to see her rewards and show support. Donating to a local artist means you’re donating to the Colorado music scene! More about Riley Ann and her music can be found on her website.

-Claire

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Colorado's Sardonic Storyteller Ben Hanna Has Launched A Kickstarter For His New Album

By: Mirna Tufekcic

“You don’t go eat a burger and enjoy hearing Ben Hanna in the background.”  

Ben Hanna, a Boulder-based artist, has a lot to say with his music. If you’ve ever heard him perform live, you might have been fooled by the upbeat tempo and playful rhymes of his tunes, thinking his songs are all a joke. I know I did the first time I stumbled into one of his live performances around town. But the lyrics that accompany BH’s music are actually sardonic stories of the daily mundane, of mediocre human interaction, love, relationships, and deep personal vices. His music is meant to be listened to with intention, so though you might laugh at some point, it may be more because of discomfort that BH is so honestly striking the truth than for any other reason.

When I asked Hanna about his style, he said, “People sometimes think it’s comedy. It has comedic elements, but it’s really a reflection of life. My music is a byproduct of modern world things, like having to deal with real human relationships while trying to use Tindr and Facebook at the same time.”

Which led me to wonder: Does Ben Hanna have Tindr?

“The only reason I’m on it is because a one percent chance is better than a zero percent chance.” he told me.

Way to be self-deprecating Ben.

“I feel like I’m trying really hard to have mediocre conversations with people I’m not even half interested in. It’s a cruel joke on me.” he continued.

In a nutshell, that is Ben Hanna: quirky, witty, and very keen on the human condition. He is definitely someone to check out if Lou Reed, John Prine, and Jonathan Richman are already on your Spotify list.   

Currently, Ben Hanna is working on finishing his second full-length album, which he is recording professionally. He hopes to accomplish this with the help and support of his fans and local music lovers alike. He has launched a Kickstarter to help fund the remaining needs for the project, and there are just 25 days left before the campaign ends. And I get it- amidst all the struggling artists these days, it is difficult to be moved to support any one of them. But Ben Hanna is worthwhile- he’s a different breed of artist. To be a part of his project and score things like a handmade Sharpie-drawn tee from Ben, check out BH’s Kickstarter here.

-Mirna

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Stella Nova's Dominic Ellerbee: From Homelessness to Hope for a Debut Record

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Last July, we introduced you to Denver’s Stella Nova. After a series of lineup changes, the project is now a solo one, and the mastermind behind it is original founding member Dominic Ellerbee.

Dominic Ellerbee.

Dominic Ellerbee.

Ellerbee, who has battled living in poverty and homelessness most of his life, is a 19-year-old Denverite who has been featured on CPR, Ellen, and The Denver Post for his musical work. As a senior in high school, Ellerbee didn’t always know if he would have a roof over his head, but he knew he’d always have one thing: his music. His senior year of high school, Ellerbee wrote, directed, and choreographed his original musical, “So Many Fish In The Sea.” Following high school, Ellerbee was accepted into Boston’s Berklee College of Music. After one semester, Ellerbee didn’t have enough funds to continue on, and he was forced to move back to Denver. Though his dreams were dashed, Ellerbee didn’t give up. He started working and continued to make music through his project Stella Nova. But the hardships continued for Ellerbee, and he recently lost his job and his bandmates. Still, Ellerbee is pushing on, and recently released Stella Nova’s newest single, “Old School Radio.”

Listen to “Old School Radio”:

“Old School Radio” is an alt rock indie/pop jam on which Ellerbee played all instruments himself. It’s got punchy guitars that build into anthem-like choruses with a driving drum beat, and is lyrically about a long distance relationship in which a pair of lovers cope with their loneliness through songs they both hear on the radio.

Along with his newest music, Ellerbee has launched a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to try and record a full studio album at The Spot Studios, which is where he recorded “Old School Radio.” Ellerbee has already written the tracks, and you can read more about each of his original songs here. Ellerbee’s goal is just $3500 for his entire campaign, and he only has 17 days left to reach it.

Ellerbee of Stella Nova at The Spot Studios.

Ellerbee of Stella Nova at The Spot Studios.

Said Ellerbee, “I really am just trying to make it so my family and I can live a better life and we can all be happy.”

Give Ellerbee’s music a listen today, hop over to his Kickstarter, and consider making a pledge to his campaign. We’d like to see this talented individual continue making awesome music, locally and beyond.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Bury the Doubt Brings Electronic Punk To Oklahoma With Their New Single "Cast Away"

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Bury the Doubt is bringing electronic punk to their hometown and beyond.

Nestled in the small town of Newkirk, OK, you’ll find the band Bury the Doubt, who are determined to make a name for electronic punk in a town that is overgrown with country music.

Oklahoma's Bury the Doubt.

Oklahoma's Bury the Doubt.

It all started with a screamo band called River Parade, made up of Josh Layton and Cade Peterson. Then about a year ago, the two decided to focus more on an acoustically-oriented sound and change their name to Bury the Doubt. Now the six-piece band is made up of original members Josh Layton (vocals/songwriter/ukulele) and Cade Peterson (drums), along with longtime friend Shahannah Wilkie (piano), Matthew Colsen (guitar), Colby Burke (guitar), and Drayton Oldfield (DJ).

Buskin'.

Buskin'.

Like many up and coming bands, Bury the Doubt deal with the struggles of lack of rehearsal space and a tight budget, so they have had to get creative. They practice in living rooms and jam out in their cars on the open road, and when they recorded their first album Love Hate & Other Sins (2015), they had to make every minute count. The studio charged by the hour, so they got to work and even recorded the song "Lela" in one take.

Listen to Bury the Doubt's album Love Hate & Other Sins:

They group just recorded their latest single "Cast Away" at The Spot Studios in Lakewood, CO. The song itself sounds playful, but touches on some deeper feelings of rejection and longing. It speaks to those who have felt cast out and feel that being alone is sometimes easier than allowing yourself to be judged. It’s one of those songs that you find yourself isolating various sounds in it as you listen, and just when you think you’ve figured it all out, they manage to change it up again. The lyrical maturity also takes the song to a very vivid level:

Lift my skin and you might find
A sunken ship left behind
In hopes of treasure to finally save the free
Packed up in a wooden crate
Shipped away a day too late
To an island only the dead could ever see.

“Cast Away” is a single off Bury the Doubt’s upcoming album The Tale of Two Tragedies. They are launching their Kickstarter campaign this Saturday, May 14th, in order to raise funds to record the album. They will be offering exclusive reward packages for supporters, including: a signed copy of the album, Bury the Doubt logo beanies, band posters, VIP tickets to the album release show (or a show of the guest’s choosing), original artwork for select song titles, backstage passes, a chance to be a "Rockstar For A Day," and much more.

High-fives all around for new sounds.

High-fives all around for new sounds.

Once again, Bury the Doubt is looking to adapt their sound and form a new genre, incorporating electronica, punk, and the sounds of Gothic Transylvania into their odes for those who want to listen. So be on the look out for their musical makings, as they show you a side of them you haven’t seen before. Check out their Facebook for upcoming announcements.

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited.

Signs and Signals Keep On Flashing In The Studio and On Stage

By: Jura Daubenspeck

Find yourself "Human Again" with Denver's Signs and Signals.

Big things are in store for Denver’s alternative rock group Signs and Signals. The five-piece band, made up of Jason Kelly (vocals), Ryan Fraser (bass/supporting vocals), Brian Carpenter (lead guitar), John Ensey (guitar/supporting vocals), and Jimmy Fountain (drums) brings a powerful, eclectic flair to their music that is continuing to build momentum.

Signs and Signals at Denver Rockfest last weekend. 

Signs and Signals at Denver Rockfest last weekend. 

Since their inception in May 2014, Signs and Signals have played a number of shows throughout Denver, including Denver’s Underground Music Showcase, have been featured on 93.3 Locals Only, and raised over $6,000 in their Kickstarter campaign, allowing them to record their album, Human Again.

Human Again, which was recorded at The Spot Studios, has a number of songs that are powerful, catchy, and urge you to get up and move. Personal favorites from the album include heavy hitters such as “Fight or Flight,” “Human Again,” and “Here In The Dark.” While each band member has varying musical backgrounds, ranging from classical training, to the “by ear” technique, to being well-versed in the punk/ska scene, their unique talents all come together to create a fantastic sound. And as they continue to play together, along with newer members Ryan Fraser and John Ensey, the group has plans to tweak their sound to a heavier, more emotional feel. We can expect from their new music more riffs, artist collaborations, and deep-cutting lyrics- and I, for one, am excited.

S&S bringing the house down. 

S&S bringing the house down. 

After listening to Signs and Signals’ recorded music, as well as watching them perform on stage, I found that their music truly comes alive when seen in person. I watched them play at Moe’s BBQ in November 2015, and the energy felt during their performance was unreal. They had everyone headbanging, singing along, and cheering- and personally, those are my favorite kinds of shows. You could absolutely tell that the group has a strong bond and genuinely enjoys rocking out with their fans. To top it off, their music carries an excellent blend of “radio-friendly rock” with ass-kicking melodies.

2016 has been a hell of a year so far for the guys of Signs and Signals. They performed at the Bluebird Theater in January, the Marquis Theater in February, and finally, brought the house down last Friday night at Denver Rockfest at the Oriental Theatre, along with Innerspace, Vermillion Road, and My Own Iris.

Listen to Sounds and Signals title track from their album, "Human Again:

So what do we have to look forward to with Signs and Signals? After the excitement of their recent performances, the group has plans to write more music, record a new music video, and work on their collaborations, including their recent piece “Gravity Lies” with vocalist, pianist, and songwriter Amy Kress. That track will be released by the end of the summer.

Though you may not have many chances to see them play live during the upcoming months, be prepared for an even stronger Signs and Signals next fall. And in the meantime, check out their music on Spotify, Soundcloud, and their website.

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.