The Hamilton underground is teeming with wild artistic expression regardless of how gentrification might showcase the more sterilized aspects of it. Three proponents of those underground sounds came together recently and are producers or label heads or promoters or physical artists as well but when they come together they offer one of the most exciting and bewildering musical groups on the local stage. While busy with their own projects, these Freaky Boos seem to annually come together to as they describe “amuse, excite and mystify audiences with their multi–sensory travelling show” and while recording product may have been scant, a new full length recording is being released on vinyl to shed more spotlight on the band known as Freaky Boos.
Who are the Freaky Boos? Aaron “Hutchie” Hutchinson of jazz/hip hop fusion monsters Haolin Munk and Eschaton fame is also a producer of note for Ellis, Shanika Maria, Sarah Good and many more at his Fort Rose Studio. Jackson Darby of Persons fame is also the man who created a Personal Records label distributing specialized vinyl releases for a myriad of artists. In January, the label’s first 12–inch full length vinyl from Darby’s alter ego NPNP called Interrupt//Erupt was released featuring a ‘wide range of styles from dance–floor acid house to vibey synth–based ambient music’. Becky Katz of Sourpussy and glassEYElashes fame is solo performance artist and musician under the Please moniker as well as part of the Strangewaves collective that promotes eclectic and underground sounds in Hamilton year round and at their annual weekend camping event. She is also an acclaimed physical artist commissioned by the likes of Caribou and the Polaris Music Prize among others. Together, they are ever eclectic and wildly inventive and their new album offers grand introduction to their musical and artistic mandate.
“We were friends via the [now defunct] Casino arts space and we simply thought we’d get along well together on the road so we embarked on our first tour two years ago as three solo acts and quickly decided that we should probably collaborate because we’re all freaky and it worked out quite well,” offers Katz on the band’s origins. “Jackson recently decided to relocate to Montreal so it kind of makes it a little harder to be in a band together but we played a festival in Ottawa this past summer called Electric Eclectic and we essentially used our set from that show to base our album on that. Jackson comes to Hamilton for a weekend here and there so we can record and write but we have something here. When we went on the road, we didn’t practice because we couldn’t but we played our first show and it was a huge hit so we think we have a good thing going.”
I’m Exposed offers sounds that are indefinable, at times impenetrable ‘aural art’ in its purest sonic form — an artistic expression for the indie/alternative underground, or fans of free form improvised jazz and noise.
“We have a cue sheet so that is premeditated and gives us some structure but then it’s really free in between so there is structure but also very improvised so it’s a fun balance,” says Katz. “I bring my sax, Aaron brings his trumpet, Jackson’s got his synth and we really go to town. It can be extremely chaotic but it can also be very soothing so it runs the gamut of the two. This album fluctuates between absolute mayhem free jazz and extreme weirdness to a drony, soothing meditative ending. Apparently, it’s an emotional roller coaster so this album is truly a window into our emotional turmoil as a group.
“The album is inspired by that special live performance last summer but we edited it, tweaked it and reworked it so essentially it's a roller coaster for genre and a bit of a journey,” adds Katz. “We called the album I’m Exposed because it’s almost like a diary for me. I really use my music as a form of therapy and I use a lot of vocal samples from voice memos on my phone. One of those samples is my cousin Jackie screaming out “I’m exposed”. The album cover is a photo of her swimming naked in a pool.”
This is not for everyone but the people it is for will surely be enamored by this extensive offering of humour, creativity, inventiveness and art that could impress, inspire or infuriate any audience but that’s the point. The Freaky Boos’ I’m Exposed full length release underscores their commitment to the project and their ideas bearing all in the hopes that you might find some naked truth in yourself.
“It’s more serious than ever but it’s also more of a joke then ever,” says Katz. “We’re not comedians but the humour is part of my artistry and if there is no humour, I’m just not interested.
“For our live shows, it’s best to come with an open mind and accept that you don’t know what’s going to happen — be ready for anything,” adds Katz. “The way we present this show, it’s pretty intense and a couple of people have told me that they found it very emotional. To provoke any reaction from an audience is really a great litmus test to tell if something is worth seeing. If it’s just another run of the mill show, then what’s the point? With Freaky Boos, you have the opportunity to get your mind transformed a little bit, especially with this performance.”
Strangewaves presents Freaky Boos on Friday February 21 at This Ain't Hollywood with Mark Morgan, Blumon and DJ See Thru. Doors open at 9 pm and it's a $10 or pay-what-you-can cover. Click on freakyboos.bandcamp.com