By Jonathan Crane
CALGARY – In Calgary it’s relatively unheard of for a DJ night to release an EP, but such is the case with NOIR, the monthly night at Habitat Living Sound that fuses house music with live instrumentation.
Inspired by their chemistry on stage, NOIR’s three residents Rusty Meeks (Casey McMechan), Jared Andres, and Juicy Jamey (Jamey Lougheed) decided to officially become a band under the name BLVD NOIR. In March they’ll release a five-track EP inspired by the night’s jam-like, improvisational nature.
“Literally the whole thing’s a jam, which is kind of the essence of what our night’s always been. We never prepare anything,” says McMechan.
“We tried to capture that a little for sure,” concurs Andres.
NOIR began in 2013 with Andres and McMechan DJing alongside local guests. Eight months into their run they invited saxophonist Lougheed to accompany them live.
Lougheed emanated from psychedelic rock culture, in particular Deadhead culture that extends from The Grateful Dead. Andres and McMechan believe this worked in their favour, giving Lougheed musical adaptability.
“Deadhead culture, I think, is a lot about jamming and about spontaneity, and Jamey definitely brings that element to it,” says McMechan. Combined with the backgrounds of McMechan and Andres, this gave NOIR a unique diversity.
“It’s right in the NOIR description, we all come from pretty different backgrounds of music,” explains Andres. “I started off as playing in punk bands for years, then eventually psych bands down the road, and now this.”
With Lougheed cementing their vision for the night, Andres began incorporating live congas and tablas. The trio began jamming outside of the club, leading to the idea of starting a band. Other musical projects, however, kept them from pursuing it. But the current format approaching its four-year anniversary gave them a new resolve.
In keeping with their style, the forthcoming EP’s five songs were forged by jam sessions at Lougheed’s studio. The majority of the percussion is live drumming by Andres, with Lougheed alternating between the sax and the guitar. McMechan manned the production software, capturing everything and turning it into loops in real time. The trio improvise then decide on which elements to keep. This means NOIR’s fans will find the EP authentic to what happens on stage.
“Jamie plays the sax on the EP exactly the same way that he plays the sax live, and same with the congos,” says McMechan.
With the EP soon released on Bandcamp, they hope to use it for festival applications. If this comes to fruition they’ll contemplate taking their act onto the road.
“Depending on how the album release goes and how people receive it, that could really bring us one way or another,” says McMechan.
Either way, the group is happy with their achievements over the last four years. Many local DJs made their debut at NOIR, and the group pledges to keep this innovation, and the eclectic blend of music flowing into 2018.
For information on the EP’s release, follow BLVD NOIR at https://www.facebook.com/noiryyc/BLVD Noir, DJ, EP, Habitat, live-band