Discover Another World
EAR PWR creates the kind of cyber disco dance music that every school prom wishes it had. Self-assured and sassy as hell, Devin Booze and Sarah Reynolds revel in ridiculousness and unabashed fun, their every song a highly refined gem – and they’ve only been making music together for three years.
Super Animal Brothers III is the most fun sounding album ever put to celluloid. It’s also Baltimore – by way of North Carolina – band EAR PWR’s latest release. A dizzying array of synths colliding at full speed in a glitzy glammed-up disco are iced with Sarah’s childlike sing-song voice full of wonder, plays with Devin’s non-stop dancing synths. Her raps cast rainbows over Devin’s gloriously hedonistic Barbie rave workouts.
Another voice for the generation of kids raised on the internet, EAR PWR reclaims the right to redefine electro, disco, hip hop and everything in between in today’s world of mutating sub-genres.
The couple behind the music met in a wonderfully nonchalant way in 2005, Sarah explains. “Devin’s high school band, Hide and Seek, played in the street one evening near my apartment. I wandered down and was instantly a huge fan. Devin was the drummer and I thought that he was really sexy. I eventually got up the courage to talk to him and we started dating not too long after that.”
It would be a year before they started the band. “After we started dating I moved to Italy for a year and Devin’s band broke up during that time period. He started making a lot of electronic music while I was gone and when I came back I wrote lyrics to his songs. We started performing soon after.”
They named the collaboration after some labels on a “decrepit tape player” they took with them on one of their first hang outs – a bike ride. Devin says of the ceremonious occasion, “After our ride we were examining the artefact and noticed that above the headphone jack was the word ‘ear’ and above the power input was the abbreviation ‘pwr’. We decided that would be a pretty decent name for a band.” And thus, EAR PWR was born.
Sarah and Devin were both studying before starting the band, and have since graduated; Sarah with a degree in studio art and Devin, also a concert tuba player and drummer, earned a degree from the Bob Moog-founded music technology program at UNC Asheville, North Carolina’s public liberal arts school. It was there that he learned to create the synths he uses to give EAR PWR its individual sound.
The band is now the couple’s full-time focus. Breaking any notions of boundaries between genres, they successfully fuse intergalactic electronica with blazed R&B (‘Boys II Volcanoes’), trippy psychedelia (‘Goofy Award’) and hyper happy disco pop (‘Future Eyes’) with Peter Pan paeans.
“We’ve received lots of hate mail wishing death upon us. One said they would only buy our album if it was the sound of all of us burning to death.” – Sarah Reynolds
“We’re both inspired by nostalgia and childhood memories,” Devin says. “We’re also inspired by each other and love. Our songs are often full of inside jokes that only we understand. It’s like a secret language.” Sarah describes EAR PWR as “Purikura for your ears”, Purikura being the Japanese phenomenon of photo booth-produced kitsch animation stickers.
Using a synthesizer, sampler, test oscillator, megaphone and various vocal effects, they produce this collage of kitsch, out-of-this-world techno electro. “It usually starts with a catchy melody or a certain sound that I want to create and just builds from there,” explains Devin.
Sarah adds, “I sometimes come up with small parts in the music and I always write the lyrics.” Her artful, imaginative and humorous words are integral to the attraction of EAR PWR. “I usually come up with an idea or concept that makes me laugh or that is intriguing and I write what immediately comes to mind.”
The immediacy is apparent in the fast blitzes of their songs. The album moves from idea to idea fast and is crammed full of dance floor-ready, chart-threatening pop. Except we all know this is something that won’t dominate the airwaves, and there is a certain beauty to that offbeat weirdness inherent in the music and the artists behind it.
They’re not your ordinary pop-makers: Devin is lofty and buzzing with a fluffy fro, Sarah super cute and petite with her shock of short blonde hair, Where’s Wally glasses and kooky, colourful outfits. They cut a striking image, one that’s immortal just like their music. Obviously EAR PWR isn’t borne out of anything but imagination, fun and love, which is precisely why they’re so appealing.
“We’re both inspired by nostalgia and childhood memories. We’re also inspired by each other and love. Our songs are often full of inside jokes that only we understand. It’s like a secret language.” – Devin Booze
The couple moved to Baltimore in April and has found its internationally-lauded music scene “pretty diverse”. The area has spawned several successful acts including Beach House, Future Islands, Ponytail and Dan Deacon, and has proved somewhat fruitful for inspiration and kinship. “There are a lot of good rappers here,” says Devin. “There’s also a symphony orchestra. You can’t beat that.”
EAR PWR’s music attracts a noticeably niche audience. “We have quite a few haters,” Sarah says. “We’ve received lots of hate mail wishing death upon us. One said they would only buy our album if it was the sound of all of us burning to death. But, without hate there can’t be love, so we’re not too bothered by it.”
Their crazy live shows are testament to their energy and devotion to the band. Devin says, “We try get as wild and crazy as possible. If the audience wants to dance and get insane with us we love it! But if they just wanna observe the madness, that’s okay with us too.”
Sarah recounts a particularly memorable show in New Orleans, “After we played we met a crazy crack head, he called himself Peter Pan. He gave us a ‘fine silk shirt’ which was really a basketball jersey and he also gave us some vitamins.”
Whatever the gig or the crackhead, the future looks bright for the re-creators of pop. They’re “working on an EP entitled Adult Emotions,” Devin says, and it will be “quite a bit different” from Super Animal Brothers III. “It’s going to be slower and definitely sexier.”
EAR PWR- Myspace
EAR PWR- Website
Posted by Sarah Gooding under Baltimore, North Carolina, U.S.A