Eleven bodies, eleven minds, and eleven separate lives — the coordination it takes to get each member of the Flying Spiders in the same place at the same time is hard to fathom, especially when those members are spread across Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
The locally based “organic hip-hop” band’s upcoming release — an EP called The Doppelganger — is significant, then, for two main reasons. Not only will the record-release show mark the first time the entire band will be together on stage at the same time, it will also mark their transition from celebrated live band to true recording artists.
That transition wasn’t made without concern.
“I was worried about that,” says Isamu Jordan, frontman for the Flying Spiders, who described his band to The Inlander last December as having “an emphasis on the performance.”
Translating the emotion and energy of their live performance into recorded form was a struggle. Especially when that process contained eleven moving parts.
Jordan says the band spent the entire month of August recording and allotted September for mixing. The band was given free reign at the Village Experience recording studio, which is owned and operated by Doug LaPlante, father of Spiders’ multi-instrumentalist Cameron “Sparky” LaPlante. Jordan says he and Sparky scrutinized each track, trying to balance the mix while maintaining the energy.
“Sparky is a music scholar, so he’s far more able to articulate what he’s hearing. For me, it’s more intuitive, speaking through the heart or through the gut what I’m trying to achieve,” says Jordan. “It was a good contrast, I think.”
The five tracks on The Doppelganger are united by the concept and approach of the album.
“It’s that hip-hop tradition of taking a musician’s music and repackaging it through digital tools,” says Jordan. “We’re doing the opposite.”
What that means is that the Spiders have taken samples from other songs and recreated them with their own instruments.
Aside from being a somewhat unique concept, Jordan says the live instruments bring something more to the table than a sample.
“You may have heard that Wu-Tang sample a thousand times,” says Jordan of the spinning, hopping violin lines on the group’s 1997 track, “Reunited.” When Spiders’ violinist Rajah Bose samples it on their own “Spokane’s Finest (Premix),” the resemblance to the original line is uncanny, but there’s something more alive about it.
“It adds different colors,” says Jordan.
The Spiders also added color to their album with the addition of three guest artists. Jordan says he used the musical connections he’s built over the years to create his pool of collaborators, including R&B singers Jesi B (of North Idaho’s Jesi B and the All Rites) and Jamal Ali, and vibraphone player Victor Paul Nash from Portland indie-rock group Point Juncture, WA.
As a whole, The Doppelganger’s strengths are many. Not only did Jordan and Sparky achieve the golden hybrid of energy and balance they were striving for, they did so in a way that projects the Spiders in a new light. On the recording, there’s no bar noise, flashing lights or too-loud speakers to distract the listener from appreciating the complexity of the Spiders’ music. It’s seamless.
Their EP release show will showcase both sides of the Spiders — the live performers and the calculated recording artists. And on that date, Nov. 11, they’ll also be all together. All eleven on 11-11-11.
Flying Spiders EP release show • Fri, Nov. 11, at 9 pm • ZOLA • 22 W. Main • $5 (free CD with entry)• 21 • 624-2416