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E-Spire Entertainment News

A place where we inspire to bring you the best in entertainment news.

Jupiter Rising

Thursday, June 22, 2006

JUPITER RISING – GO! (WINDOWS VIDEO): http://vista.streamguys.com/jspiewak2/jr_go_video.wmv

JUPITER RISING – GO! (WINDOWS AUDIO): http://vista.streamguys.com/jspiewak/jupiterrising_go.wma

MYSPACE SITE: http://www.myspace.com/jupiterrising
“We’re on a mission to change the world,” proclaims 8o.Bug, singer, songwriter, DJ and half of the format-busting musical duo Jupiter Rising.

After one listen to “Go,” the barnstorming lead track from the pair’s debut album, (due this spring from Chime Entertainment), you might be forgiven for thinking the change in question will start on the dancefloor. If this relentlessly funky amalgam of hip-hop, pop, rock, dancehall and more doesn’t make you move, consult a physician.

But 8o and her partner, composer-multi-instrumentalist-programmer-human beatbox Spencer Nezey, have a lot more up their sleeves. Take, for example, the soaring ballad “Hero,” which was selected as the theme for the acclaimed International Museum of Women’s project Imagining Ourselves. The song’s soulful refrain yearns for “a hero to save us from ourselves,” but declares that if one doesn’t arrive, “I will do it myself.”

This sort of determination is at the core of Jupiter Rising’s mission. “We both felt so unsatisfied by most of the music out there,” 8o notes. “It’s either bands asking why life sucks but offering no explanation, or trite, dumb stuff about shaking your ass, getting the guy, getting money. We want our music to make people feel full of hope, full of self-awareness and a sense of connection and belonging. We want them to feel something they didn’t feel before they listened to us.”

Jupiter Rising frequently returns to these themes of self-empowerment and community. The infectious, old-school anthem “The Bus,” for example, celebrates the band’s perseverance en route to a music career – and boasts a cameo by an early player in hip-hop’s trip to the mainstream, Kid of Kid ‘n’ Play. Amid the heartache and poverty, 8o sings, “It’s the groove that keeps us comin’.” “I came up with the track for ‘Bus’ and already thought it would be a single,” Spencer recalls, “and then 8o came up with the chorus, and it was, like, damn!”

The epic throwdown “Backstage” captures the twilight moment between post-show exhaustion and afterparty euphoria – promising, with Jupiter’s typical resilience, that the band will take a breath and then be ready for the next round. Underlining the song’s atmosphere of off-the-wall, late-night jamming, the track features saxophone (courtesy of Spencer) and even a cümbüº (pronounced “joom-bush”), a Turkish banjo.

Romantic matters, meanwhile, give 8o a chance to display her expressive range. On the bottom-heavy love song “Frenz,” she testifies to a desire to take a platonic relationship to the next level. “I don’t expect ‘Frenz’ to change the world,” she relates, “but if someone can connect with that feeling – and give the song to someone they feel that way about – we’ve done our job.”

The musical chemistry between 8o – with her versatile, soulful vocals and pop instincts – and Spencer, a madly prolific writer who brings both compositional depth and an encyclopedic knowledge of beats to the table, certainly testifies to a unique artistic friendship. “It’s easy,” Spencer explains, “because she’s a storyteller. I’ll give her a concept and she’ll run with it.” Elaborates 8o, “He’ll be in working on a beat and I’ll go, ‘Ooh, I like that – how about this?’ Sometimes I’ll be in the other room listening to him writing a track, and by the time he’s added the instruments, I’ve written the song.”

The pair traveled along very different paths before they joined forces. Raised by her missionary mom and stepdad, 8o grew up traveling around the South – and wasn’t allowed to listen to anything but gospel until age 13. “I started singing as a child, studying records by classic gospel artists,” she remembers. “I sang my little heart out, and was performing in front of huge crowds early on – my first TV appearance, in front of thousands of people, came when I was about six.” She won vocal competitions everywhere she went, despite having had no formal training. “I would pull these gospel records apart,” she notes. “I could sing every tiny inflection.”

By her adolescence, though, she was a full-fledged punk rocker, sporting a pink Mohawk and listening to everything from the Dead Milkmen to Kate Bush while threading her skateboard through crowds of disapproving classmates. “I got switchblades pulled on me and rocks thrown at me, because I was a punk chick in the South,” she recalls, laughing. “I’d felt so much restriction in my life, and now I finally felt absolutely free.”

After singing in a short-lived rock band, 8o made her way to California and quickly became involved in the dance scene, and soon her vocals appeared on numerous singles on multiple labels. She joined a dance-oriented band and attracted industry attention with her dusky, expressive vocals. “I played a lot of dingy clubs and crazy raves and Burning Man,” she volunteers. Just as the band seemed on the verge of success, Spencer entered the picture.

The San Diego native began playing the saxophone at age nine. After an early interest in hip-hop, he made the segue to jazz and then to electronica. “I realized I was just into beats,” he points out. “I started listening to trance, drum ‘n’ bass, trip-hop, and then finally made my way back around to mainstream hip-hop. Now I listen to everything, and incorporate it all into my writing.”

His hip-hop/reggae band The Beats scored opening spots for artists as diverse as Busta Rhymes and Reel Big Fish, and he also got attention for a side project, Stereo Science. He was invited to a party by the proprietor of 4th Street Recording in Santa Monica, 8o was also at the party, and she was floored by Spencer’s beatboxing/vocal scratching. “I was on my way to the little girl’s room and I’m thinking, ‘This guy’s badass – I gotta grab him and get him into the studio,’” she says. “But somebody else grabbed him first.”

Happily, fate brought the two together again shortly thereafter. “I was working on a record in the Black Eyed Peas’ studio and she came in to sing the hook,” recalls Spencer. “She called me up and said, ‘Let’s work together,’ and I became part of her band.” He transferred from his San Diego-area college to Cal State University Northridge and moved into a room in 8o’s house, where their songwriting kicked into overdrive.

8o’s six-piece group had long been courted by producer-entrepreneur Marc Tanner, who signed them for his new label, Chime. But as they began working on the record, Spencer’s influence grew. “He and I were writing material that was just light years ahead,” 8o insists. “Soon all the old songs were replaced by our new stuff, and the six members shrank down to just us two.”

Produced by Tanner (Shawn Colvin, Madonna, The Calling), Jason Villaroman (Black Eyed Peas, Macy Gray, John Legend) and the band, Jupiter Rising began as a hip-hop party record but soon morphed into something more diverse. “It’s an organic record,” reflects Spencer. “We started with all these party joints, but there was a whole other, more musical vibe once we started working in the studio.” They were aided immeasurably by drummer-percussionist Mike Shapiro, who’d honed his chops with Brazilian wizard Sergio Mendez. “He’s made the most incredible music, but he was determined to just give us what we wanted,” Spencer marvels. “Plus he’s a dope cat – I spent a lot of time hanging out with him.”

The group’s name, meanwhile, came when 8o was preparing an astrological chart. “I came across the term ‘Jupiter expanding,’ and I loved that,” she remembers. “I did some research on Jupiter and learned that it’s this huge, gaseous planet with a molten core that has saved the Earth countless times – it has a massive gravitational pull, so it absorbs all this space debris that might otherwise hit us.” Jupiter’s liquid energy and powerful presence became a symbol of what she and Spencer hoped to achieve with their music.

“I really liked this idea of a dynamic force that draws its power from its core, but that also has all this room to grow,” 8o muses. “I’m hopeful that we can be this magnetic pull to help cultivate and unify all these like-minded people. People want to come together, to break down walls of religion, ideology and color. We want to plug into that and offer something real, something that steps away from all the negativity and superficiality that came before. Yesterday doesn’t count. We’re here now, and we’re ready to lead, to be a positive influence.”
posted by Shelia, 10:22 AM


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