Sunday, June 30, 2013

Local Spotlight - Group - July 2013 - Local Artist - Pittsburgh

Our local spotlight for the month of July 2013 is a bit different from focusing on a normal 'band'. The project is entitled 'group', a two person stage performance led by Scott Andrew and Nina Sarnelle that utilizes 90 minutes of original music and projected video content. Drawing upon conventions of rock concerts, spiritual rituals, exercise classes, team-building exercises, self-help seminars and group therapy, this immersive audiovisual experience leads participants through a number of activities designed to generate intimacy, physicality and energetic connection between them.'Group' is raising money towards the release of their self-titled album via an Indiegogo campaign running until July 1 (I am a little late here obviously). Supporters can listen to a few sample tracks on the group website, and pre-order a download of the album for as little as $10. A $25 donation includes the download as well as a reserved spot for the live show this October. Each donation will help to fund production and distribution costs of this self-released album, available in August. To donate go to

How did the project come together? What are you trying to accomplish?

We devised group primarily as a live experience, but in the process, we're also creating a recorded version of all of the music and instructions so that people can recreate the experience on their own. This is the time to plug the Indiegogo campaign we've launched to fund the album, which is closing July 1! If you like what we're doing here, please consider chipping in $10 to get a download of the album in August, or $25 for a download PLUS a reserved spot at our show in October.  Space is limited to approx 50 people per show so this reservation could be really important.  :) 

What is your live experience/video?

The live show:
group contains 90-mins of original music and video projection, an inflatable set/projection screen, and a series of interactions that guide an audience through progressive levels of interaction: agree, breathe, ingest, trim, contact, voice, act, fatigue, release. These activities are a mash-up of things we've learned in group therapy, yoga/group exercise classes, team-building exercises and spiritual retreats. They may be a bit challenging at times, asking you to participate in an impossibly fast group karaoke or a touch a stranger's hand in the dark, but they are all designed to be fun. Dont be afraid. Nothing bad can happen in group.

We came up with this concert/group therapy/workout/meditation session as a means of harnessing the incredible energy we’ve experienced at music shows, churches, jazzercise, etc. We wanted to create a stage performance expressly for the purpose of generating this kind of group energy. What if an electronic music show was not an immersive experience where one stands silently watching, but a ‘social’ event, compelling audience members to interact with each other in an absurd, intimate, or ecstatic manner? Of course there are elements of this energy in every mosh pit or dance floor; we don’t wish to reinvent the wheel, here. We’re simply focusing on this energetic reaction as the core intention of group. As artists, our work is typically designed to provide some sort of transformative physical or metaphysical experience for its participants. Take a look at some of our past collaborations to see how this has manifested:

How would you describe your music?

Just to be clear, Scott and I usually identify ourselves as interdisciplinary performance artists rather than musicians; we both have diverse music backgrounds, but this is the first long form music project we've worked on in quite some time. We want our music to be at times soothing, absurd, immersive, bizarre and infectious, a blend of electronic dance music, new age sensibilities and dream pop. We have some specific influences from Steve Reich, Enya, Laurie Anderson, but we're also into a lot of the acts that VIA brings through, and have a number of friends making amazing dance music in NY and elsewhere.

More specifically: probably some affinity to bands like Yacht, Prince Rama, Young Galaxy. Big fans of the incredibly talented (local pal) Majeure.
Best show I've seen in a while: Trust @ Brillobox.
Favorite albums: The Sounds of American Doomsday Cults, Vol 14 (seriously if you haven't heard this, it's amazing--our first track on the album is a direct reference to the Church Universal and Triumphant), Anne Gillis Aha, Bruce Haack.
I listen to a lot of shows on

From the area?

Neither of us are from Pittsburgh (although Scott grew up not too far away)--we met while in graduate school at Carnegie Mellon, getting an MFA in art. We don't have any specific plans for trying to get signed to a label right now, we're pretty busy making music and figuring out ways to self-fund it. To make a living, we scrap together a number of freelance jobs and teaching, which is relatively easy to do in Pittsburgh. We've also received a fair amount of grant funding and awards that covers the expenses of our projects. We are definitely interested in touring the live show and have identified a few interested art/music/performance venues. I doubt we would attempt a massive tour, but we'd like to do some shows in other cities, provided that we can generate an audience. This particular performance will only work with a small, yet full audience. We really can't perform for more than 100 people, and probably can't be paired with another act unless it is somehow related. We have a few unusual tech requirements (like the floor of the venue must be clean and safe for people to lie down) so all this limits our touring capabilities a bit. But there are lots of interesting hybrid performance venues across the country, so it's just about finding the right fit. 

For more information on the project visit these sites:

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