I’ve got nothing against electronic music, but I wouldn’t say that I gravitate to it. The first time I heard Negative Gemini, though, I felt a pull.
The deliberate wall of sound, the familiarity of the beat, and the warm vocals were captivating in a way I hadn’t heard from this genre before.
This, of course, led me to the internet, where I discovered a label of like-minded musicians all under the 100% Electronica umbrella. And I think about music – about what makes it move and why it does or doesn’t affect me – and what makes this label stand apart from its contemporaries is a very obvious human element. I love a good beat and a dope melody, but far too often technology takes the forefront of electronic music and we lose touch of the people behind the sounds.
Lindsey French and George Clanton are, unmistakably, the people behind these sounds.
100% Electronica is based out of New York, but Lindsey and George are both Virginia natives. Lindsey spent years establishing herself in Richmond’s music scene by way of Charlottesville while George comes from Martinsville and planted himself quite firmly in the Harrisonburg circuit. Guys, I don’t even know where Martinsville is. There are origin stories here and even a rap group, but what you need to know is that both of them ended up making electronic music. George and Lindsey moved to New York for the same reasons any struggling artist moves to a bigger city, to gain the exposure and experiences that they needed to take their music to the next level. And, as Lindsey tells me, they “just always wanted to live there.”
The move was described by George as “rough” and the couple spent a few months on couches, but it looks like things are working out. The label is gaining a lot of traction, Negative Gemini’s most recent album,“Body Work,” is widely regarded as one of the best albums of last year, neither of them has to work for The Man these days and they’re preparing to embark on tour that got bigger than either of them expected rather quickly.
While they are a couple and run a label together, Lindsey and George make music separately. Lindsey records under Negative Gemini, a lush, beat driven affair with as much in common with My Bloody Valentine as Massive Attack or Portishead. It would be a disservice to Negative Gemini to leave it at that, though. So much more than a sum of its parts and influences, NG is at once complex and simple, offering well-crafted compositions that, when stripped-down, are just great pop songs. George used to record under the moniker Mirror Kisses, but switched to his government name when, based on my speculation, his music shifted from 80s influenced synth-pop to a more deliberate and mature sound. I’m not sure if this is true, but Lindsey told me over the phone that “his face lit up” when I suggested that I heard less 80s influence in his newer material. It’s inconsequential, really. There’s still an 80s element there, but only in the best way and not like a jokey cover band (I think the fact that I’m struggling to define George Clanton only gives him more merit). Both are mesmerizing vocally, which adds another element to their respective sounds. And George and Lindsey have both promised plenty of singy songs when they perform at Charlie’s American Café this Saturday. (They both also used the word “singy’ so I will too, I’m not a slave to autocorrect.)
As I mentioned previously, the tour grew organically and unexpectedly. George wanted to play Harrisonburg because he was blown away by the response he got while headlining Macrock last year; being received like a “fucking celebrity’ while he recalls a lukewarm response during his previous residence there. Roanoke is the next stop because George recalls driving an hour to see shows there so “we should play Roanoke.” One show leads to another and now there’s a 100% Electronica tour. Expect an interactive show when you catch both acts this Saturday because it’s more than the singy element that makes these artists connect.
“In New York, no one cares about anything,” George tells me. “So playing to new, receptive crowds re-invigorates us.”
“It’s really easy to play tracks and be cool.” Lindsey assures me. “It’s much harder to connect with people…” then George chimes in… “-but immeasurably more fun.”
And fun might be the best way to describe what’s in store for the night. Not only are there two unique artists that are, without question, some of the best in their craft, but Doddie is going to be spinning and bringing that Fan Plan vibe, T-Mobyle will keep the party going and two of the area’s most promising new acts, True Body and Opal, keep the bill stacked. And, even if you don’t “gravitate” towards electronic music, you like to have fun, right?
For more about this event, here it is on Facebook.