AlphaBowie: Where Music Meets Art & Typography Rules

By: Sierra Voss

The world around us tiggers human emotions that drive creative expression. These creative expressions may take forms in visual, physical, or musical art. Some artists may focus solely on visual expressions, while others only on musical expressions. Although different, they share the same language, as they work to interpret and express individual reactions to the world. Some artists, however, exists within the in between. These artists explore the intersections of how one art form feeds the other. Meet Colorado native Madeline Reusch. Madeline has created a project called AlphaBowie, which explores the intersection of art forms via the exploration of a man that truly embodied interdisciplinary creative expression, David Bowie.   

How does music inspire your art?

I grew up in an incredibly musical family- picture The Sound of Music minus the lederhosen. I have been singing in bands and choirs since I was old enough to walk. I have always been a musician first, and a visual artist second. When you come from a musical perspective and then fall in love with visual art, I think it's impossible to separate them.

To me, art and music are two mediums being used to express the same worldview. I’ve always fixated on the beauty of dissonance. I think it comes form my obsession with jazz and choral music. There is this eclectic pulsing buzz that comes from the beauty of dissonance, [whether] visual or harmonic, it’s a powerful wave that moves through your whole body and takes you to a brand new world. Whether it’s the complicated harmonies of Eric Whitacre or the vibrating painted fields of Mark Rothko, they come from the same place: from a desire to take things you may have seen or heard a thousand times, marry the two, and allow you to see them again in a whole new light.

Is this the first time you have based a project around a musician?

This is the first time I have done a piece that used a likeness of a musician in it. But that’s because Bowie is so much more than a musician. In a way, it’s a shame to only classify him that way. He was a painter, writer, choreographer, clothing designer, set builder and so so so much more. He even designed a computer program that generated lyrics. He didn’t just create things that changed our world, he built his own world and then invited us to join him there. His very physical existence was his art. It takes an incredibly brave person to put your whole physical self out into the world and say, “This is my work, this is my heart, what do you think of it?” I can hardly post a selfie online without wanting to collapse in on myself; I can't imagine the bravery his whole life took.

What inspired your Bowie project?

On the day Bowie passed, I was lying in bed, wishing I was asleep, and flipping through my phone absentmindedly. I read the headline that he had died. It didn’t really feel real to me at all. I was taking a typography class, and I had some project due that day that I had put off where I was supposed to make letters out of unexpected things. So, I decided to make my creative alphabet out of Bowie. And not just Bowie associated things, but Bowie himself. I think when I started the Bowie project, I was doing it because I wanted to insert something I was passionate about into a world that I was having trouble connecting with. But by the time I had finished it, I had gained such a deep deep respect for type artists and their work.

Why an alphabet?

Type artists truly understand how humans see; how we digest the visual world. They understand the importance of a single curve and how a series of well constructed and thoughtful shapes can take readers to new places. They create worlds, just like Bowie did.

Bowie never did just one thing. He expressed himself in every medium he could get his hands on. In my life I’d like to do the same thing and this seemed like a good place to start. Also, from a less philosophical place, I just wanted to find a way to share the joy Bowie had given to me with other people. Everyone loves a good rock poster, so I thought this would be a fun twist on that.

Take us inside the creation of this project. How did you do it?

I feel like the first word that comes to mind when I think of this process is LONG (laughs). Each shape I drew by hand, and I probably had about four or five possible poses/images in mind for each letter. I did at least 200 preliminary drawings before I really narrowed it down to what I wanted to make. The shapes themselves came from a huge bank of Bowie images, and stills from his music videos and live performances.

What’s your favorite Bowie song?

Ugh. No. I won't pick one. ButI think my favorite album is The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust just because it was the first one I ever owned.

Do you think you will do more musician-inspired art in the future?

Oh I absolutely will. There are so many wonderful artists who have shaped me, and I want to find a way to honor and thank them. Stevie Wonder is a big one for me. Huge. But it will have to be the right project at the right time.

How can someone get a hold of this alphabet?

Right now you can get prints on my Society6 Page. It’s linked through the @alpha_bowie Instagram too. Keep an eye out for the launch of the AlphaBowie website as well!

-Sierra

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

Native Station: The Alt-Rock Outfit Who Moved to Boulder for the Colorado Music Scene

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Originally formed in Marion, VA, alt-rock four-piece Native Station moved to Boulder for the Colorado music scene. Founding members Greg Benton (vocals/rhythm guitar) and Thomas Troutt (backup vocals/lead guitar) said they first became serious about music as a professional pursuit in 2014, when they started writing more original work together. Once in Boulder, the two met Brett Cunningham (bass) and Nick Solga (drums), and Native Station’s current lineup was formed.

Native Station.

Native Station.

Just this summer, Native Station released their debut EP, Bones ’N All. It has strong alt-rock vibes almost reminiscent of the scene in the 2000s (before bands like Fall Out Boy or Panic! At The Disco sold out to the Top 40 Pop Charts). Benton’s vocals are raw with feeling and the percussive drops throughout the record make for a catchy accompaniment to their choruses (see especially on “All My Friends” and “Runarounds”). I could easily see Native Station sharing the stage with a talented Colorado group like My Body Sings Electric. The EP is available for download, and you can also preview it on Native Station’s website.

Since the release of Bones ‘N All, it’s likely you’ve seen Native Station’s name around your town. The band has played shows in Boulder, Denver, Greeley, and Longmont over the past few months. Though there’s nothing currently on their books, you can keep up with their show schedule here.

Make sure to give Native Station a listen, and keep up with the band on their Facebook!

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on twitter and instagram.

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

The Flaming Lips + the Colorado Symphony = Is Love

By: Claire Woodcock

Wayne Coyne and The Flaming Lips put on a fantastical show at Red Rocks last week with the Colorado Symphony. 

I went to a small liberal arts college in western NY, where everyone was either in the music program or wanted to be in the music program. Fredonia housed the musicians and everyone else: those who turned teacher or activist or acid head. But one thing we all had in common: we knew of Wayne Coyne. His presence in the local Starbucks or downtown on the weekends generated stories. Coyne sightings were frequent because longtime Lips producer Dave Fridmann hosts the Lips at Tarbox Road Studios up in the wilderness, where Coyne and friends have cultivated everything from Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots to The Soft Bulletin and beyond.

Last Thursday night, The Flaming Lips joined the Colorado Symphony in a special recreation of their 1999 album The Soft Bulletin at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. A crowd made up of Lips fanatics and orchestra-goers alike found equilibrium in a lively collaboration of music, art, and quality. While I replayed elusive Wayne Coyne sighting stories with another Fredonia alum, the Colorado Symphony executed a stunning rendition of the 1910 Igor Stravinsky masterpiece “Firebird”, recreated by conductor André de Ridder. Around us, audience members were either taking in the classical sway of the strings, or yelling about getting drunk. I don’t think anyone in the crowd was ready for the transcendence that was about to go down.

The suit. Photo per Erina Uemura.

The suit. Photo per Erina Uemura.

The orchestra played a glimmering intro into “Race for the Prize”, the opening track on The Soft Bulletin. Coyne sang from a pedestal, draped in an electric dress with pulsating lights that flooded him in a glowing aura. As different color streams poured off the stage, Wayne awkwardly adjusted the light dress. He did this frequently throughout the first few tracks off the album. Though it was clear he was uncomfortable in the light creation, the show pressed on, and as “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton” began, a choir of what sounded like mermaid-calls seemed to lift up and rescue the audience from any uneasy vibes.

Rainbows and magic. Photo per Danni Lanni.

Rainbows and magic. Photo per Danni Lanni.

The Lips and the Colorado Symphony performed a beautiful arrangement of “The Spark That Bled”. Coyne held his hands over his chest (and underneath the space dress), repeating "love" for minutes, or what felt like minutes. I don’t actually know. Coyne was really feeling what Ridder and the Colorado Symphony were putting down, referring to them as “a badass group of musicians who absolutely love this music”. The choir added layers of harmonies that hardcore Bulletin fans could only have dreamed of up to this point.

Buggin” was Coyne’s best use of the orchestra and audience. He instructed the orchestra and choir to make a buzzing sound, like bees, and to watch his hand gestures for volume. “All those bugs, buzzin’ round,” Coyne sang, lifting his arms higher and higher, bouncing from forte to fortissimo to fortississimo. He instructed the audience to buzz too, creating a musical round that invited us participate, rather than leading a sing-a-long.

Coyne and the Colorado Symphony. Photo per Erina Uemura.

Coyne and the Colorado Symphony. Photo per Erina Uemura.

Throughout the show, Coyne repeatedly stated that the Lips had never done anything like playing with the Colorado Symphony before. Although the two parties did not rehearse the sheet music and orchestral arrangements for The Soft Bulletin written specifically for Thursday night’s show together until the few days leading up to the show, the Lips performed The Soft Bulletin in 2010 with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. For the Colorado Symphony, the collaboration with the Lips stems from an ongoing effort to work with popular musicians across genres. Over the past few years, the orchestra has performed with DeVotchKa, Kishi Bashi, The Lumineers and Nathaniel Rateliff, among other well-known artists.

The Soft Bulletin is largely considered The Flaming Lips’ masterpiece. The album’s original string sounds were recorded using synthesizers and samples. But at this show, cold wind brushing by, the band’s 1999 release was played the way Coyne and the audience realized it should be. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra filled in for the samples, making it an undeniably magical, galactic, and complicated joint performance.

The crowd felt unity when the musicians performed “Waiting For Superman”. The band and orchestra played through the song with a softer side not typically heard on the album that still has relevance today. “Suddenly Everything Has Changed” was a tearjerker for Coyne: “There’s moments within this song that we try to overcome this peak of sadness. And music will help us get there.” he said.

Confetti-boom glory. Photo per Addy James.

Confetti-boom glory. Photo per Addy James.

For their encore, The Lips and CSO played through “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots” and “Do You Realize”. Coyne then broke off and went into his space bubble while the band played a late David Bowie tribute cover of “Space Oddity”. Finally, the band ended on a high note with “Wand”, from the 2006 release At War With The Mystics roaring through on a blaze of confetti-boom glory.

It was undoubtedly the best way to experience The Soft Bulletin. Especially for a Fredonian.

-Claire

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

The Weekend Six: Six Shows to See 02/26 & 02/27

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Picks! Picks! Here they are yo:

Today (Friday 02/26):

Analog Son featuring Jason Hann with The Pamlico Sound at The Fox Theatre in Boulder 8PM-Close


Denver’s funky duo Analog Son will rock your socks at The Fox tonight with Jason Hann (String Cheese Incident) and other special guests. And Boulder’s The Pamlico Sound will open this magical show, a spot they had to compete for in a recent Battle of the Bands contest. Go get baptized by all these talented funkadelics, and if you’re in Denver, catch both acts at Ophelia’s tomorrow night. Or be a rockstar and see both shows! What a sweet start to the weekend- get tickets to tonight’s performance here.

Listen to Analog Son’s “Shady Nights”:

Jaden Carlson and Friends Birthday Celebration at The Lazy Dog in Boulder 10PM-Close

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Earlier this week, we dropped a sweet feature on Jaden Carlson and her headlining set at The LD tonight. Did we mention Jaden is 15 and has played with Michael Franti and SpearheadThe Revivalists, John Popper, and Blues Traveler? We might have, but you know what? This lady is insanely talented so it’s worth mentioning again! Come celebrate her birthday- she’s sharing the stage with musicians from TAUK, Eminence Ensemble, Lady and the Gentleman, The Drunken Hearts, Mama Magnolia, the Jacob Larson Band, and more. Get to her gig!

Listen to The Jaden Carlson Band’s album Polychromatic:

The Alcapones at Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub in Boulder 10PM-Close

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Reggae/ska six-piece The Alcapones will take the Conor’s stage this evening. Formed on the Front Range, they “bring a new-school feel to what was made popular in Jamaica in the 1960s”. Righteous. The band plans to make you dance alllll night, so come by and get down. And grab an Irish brew while you’re at it!

Listen to their song “Molotov Dub”:

Tomorrow (Saturday 02/27):

Antonio Lopez CD Release Show at Swallow Hill Music in Denver 8PM-Close

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We just brought you a feature on Antonio Lopez’s Cloud 9000: Vol. 2: The Alamosa EP when it hit the interwebs a couple of days ago. And now it’s time for the release parties! The first one is tomorrow evening at Tuft Theatre at Swallow Hill in Denver. Get your tickets before they’re gone and celebrate with Lopez and opener Theresa Peterson. These two talents are going to put on one awesome show!

Listen to Cloud 9000: Vol. 2: The Alamosa EP:

ASA Martin, Ludlow, Patrick the Pirate, The Real Lyin’ Rohr, & Crust-E the Katt at The Forge in Boulder 630PM-Close

Look- we could give you the info on all of these awesome acts, but half of the fun of walking into a Forge show is not knowing what the h*ll is going on. So we’re not going to. If you just really have to know more, check out the event page right here and preview the bands.

And you know what, here’s ASA Martin’s new EP for your curious listening pleasure:

Anna Englander Trio at Johnny’s Cigar Bar 9PM-Close


Cozy up to some jazz, some bourbon, and a stranger at tonight’s Johnny’s show. Why? Because it’s fun. Anna Englander, Adam Sammakia, and Alex Heffron will light your jazz fire. And Johnny will light your cigar (only in the back room, of course). Read more about the event here.

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PS: This week, our Sunday partnership with Green Light Radio and Streetside Productions will feature a track by Denver’s Miles Wide! The trio released their new EP this week, The Kindness of Strangers, and they’re throwing a release party next weekend. So tune in Sunday to any of the Colorado Community Network Radio Stations here (95.3 or 95.5 Boulder) or stream Green Light between 9-10PM to listen to Miles Wide’s new song “California”!

Thanks Boulder- see you around!

-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.