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Class of 2018: Effee

Pop is a dirty word. That’s especially true in a zone where hardscrabble scenes take root, be it punk or rock or noise, and fight for their lives against pop’s gloss and effervescence. Pop is as polarizing as it comes. But it shouldn’t be. For all intents and purposes, Columbus invented “shitgaze” of all genres, [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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Pop is a dirty word. That’s especially true in a zone where hardscrabble scenes take root, be it punk or rock or noise, and fight for their lives against pop’s gloss and effervescence.

Pop is as polarizing as it comes. But it shouldn’t be.

For all intents and purposes, Columbus invented “shitgaze” of all genres, and agree to disagree, that was pop music, just simply fed through post-modern sonic shredders. Point is, it stuck. Because pop is pop. That’s an edict Fran Litterski embraces full-tilt within her alter-ego, the Top 40 siren Effee, but one she agrees is hard to come by in the city.

“There are definitely a lot of really cool songwriters in Columbus who inhabit that pop world,” says Litterski. “There’s indie pop. There’s plenty of that. When I put together a show this March I definitely picked bands that I liked from here, but it was hard to find the pop.”

Litterski shouldn’t be that much of a stranger to Columbus audiences. For the last few years she’s been an integral part of Kid Runner’s streak, as a keyboardist and vocalist. That band, made up of transplants from around the state (Litterski herself grew up in Cincinnati) had all the trappings of the indie pop spectacle: pure, uplifting, communal—the kind of songs that play equally well at a neighborhood festival in summer and a cola commercial. Effee, the uninterrupted solo project Litterski has crafted, certainly exudes a similar vibe, but it’s stripped of the bombast, relying on playful synths and programmed beats, pastel melodies and an aesthetic that’s more late-night neon, breakfast with ice cream, than “all-join-in” on the open field.

It’s impressive then, that three of Kid Runner’s core, guitarist Kurt Keaner, drummer Austin Nill, and bassist Scott Griffin, now reside as Litterski’s backing band (while Kid Runner takes an indefinite break), as they’ve made a seamless transition from the past to this now glimmering present, hovering in the Effee singles. Fittingly in that pop mold, Effee has only appeared in digital singles and guest features. Her collaboration with the overtly chill electronic artist Nydge, “Not You,” a chance to show her versatility, while the most stunning track so far, “Work It Out,” is the signature sweet spot in Litterski’s songcraft, somewhere between Lykke Li’s noir polyrhythms and Carly Rae Jepsen’s mastery of a saccharine hook. Though there’s a definitive quality to the Effee sound and Litterski’s cloud-busting-in-reverse voice, it’s been hard for her not to flit between reverberations of what’s around her. When we spoke, it was on the eve of releasing “You and I,” a song she described as darker and “muted,” pop more influenced by the environment, the “alternative” bands she plays with and listens to, rather than what’s trending on the radio. That’s indicative of these frequent shifts and bursts.

“When I listen to albums, an album’s cohesiveness is always important,” says Litterski when asked about a full length. “For me, when it comes time to put together an album, I don’t want it to just be single, single, single, I want an arc, a storyline that keeps the record together.”

Effee’s invitation to play August’s nascent Breakaway Festival is a good metric from which to predict Litterski’s future as an artist. Mixing platinum-selling hip-hop with Soundcloud hopefuls, EDM-worship, and bands with old-fashioned ingenuity and creative flare, is a recipe for…. well, pop success. But again, Litterski is not exactly sure where she falls.

“I find myself in between a lot, between trying to be an artist and the songwriting side of things.” says Litterski. “I’m used to collaborating and writing with other people, rather than trying to brand myself. I’m still trying to figure all of that out.” •

Effee will play August 24 at the Breakaway Festival at Mapfre Stadium. Visit effeemusic.bandcamp.com for more tour dates and music.

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Music

Local rocker Angela Perley shines on solo debut

Mike Thomas

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This article was originally published in the September 2019 issue of (614) Magazine.

Folk, alt-country, or indie rock—however you choose to categorize her sound, Angela Perley remains a pillar of the Columbus music community—and highly in-demand as a national touring act, to boot.

(614) caught up with Perley to discuss her new album, life on the road, and what it takes to make it as a musician in the Capital City.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

(614): YOUR NEW RELEASE, 4:30, IS YOUR FIRST AS A SOLO ACT. WHAT LED TO THIS CHANGE?

AP: Since 2009 until last year, I had the Howlin’ Moons. It’s always been myself, Chris Connor on lead guitar, and then we had bassist Billy Zehnal in the band up until last year. We’ve had a rotating extended family of drummers. Billy’s not in the band anymore, and we were also on Vital Companies, which is a studio/label in Columbus that did our previous albums.

https://open.spotify.com/album/04pKByd2ygDHXdvl1TcdWP?si=6njCmRpfR5GRWe5kLNghVw

So this one—it’s a solo one, it’s my first independent release. There’s no label involved, I own the masters to the songs. It’s hard to keep a band together, so Chris, who’s been in the band since the beginning, and I, we’re kind of the only members, and we have an extended family of really great and talented people who have other projects they’re in. It just works a lot better with what I want to do.

YOU USED KICKSTARTER TO HELP FUND THE ALBUM. WHAT WAS THE CROWDFUNDING EXPERIENCE LIKE?

Before, with Vital, they had a studio and video production, and they took care of all of our recording in-house. We didn’t realize how expensive everything was. We had paid for studio time [for 4:30] through show money, but to look at all of the other expenses of making a record happen and trying to get it out there, it’s pretty intense! There have been a lot of independent artists that we know that will do Kickstarters, and I’ve never done anything like it before, so I was really nervous doing it. But it was a success, and I actually just finished sending out all of the preorder vinyl that people ordered.

YOUR SOUND IS OFTEN DESCRIBED AS ANYTHING FROM AMERICANA, TO ALT-COUNTRY, TO PSYCHEDELIC ROCK. WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING WITHIN THOSE TRADITIONS IN 2019?

You kind of have to make your own path, because although there is a resurgence of rock ‘n’ roll, everything’s been done before. It has those roots, but we’re not breaking the mold or anything. You just have to be true to yourself and to the music, and just go from there. Everyone’s voice is important as an artist, so that’s important to remember.

YOU’RE ON THE ROAD TOURING QUITE A BIT. DO YOU STILL KEEP TRACK OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE COLUMBUS MUSIC SCENE?

Columbus is definitely growing, and moving toward doing things independently. I’ve seen a lot of bands touring, which is good. It’s an affordable place to tour out of, and there’s a community here for sure. Whenever I have a chance, we go out to the shows. We love The Cordial Sins, and we’re having them as our special guests for our album release. The High Definitions, Souther—there are just so many good bands.

When I go to other cities and I realize that there’s not really much of a scene going on, it is kind of cool to see that in Columbus, people are very aware and supportive of musicians. Even the businesses around here, everyone’s trying to work with musicians in some way. There are so many gigs, be it at breweries, at restaurants, or little festivals that pop up. There’s work for musicians here. And some other cities, there’s really not.

IN THE PAST, YOU’VE PLAYED SOMETHING LIKE 150 SHOWS A YEAR. ARE YOU KEEPING UP THE SAME PACE THESE DAYS?

I’m glad that we played that many shows at that time. We were playing anywhere and everywhere, and a lot of that was pressure financially. If that’s the way you’re making a living, you’ve got to take every gig. We’ve spread out the shows since, especially since we have been doing it for this long. We’re kind of gearing more towards quality shows. I will say, playing that many shows—I needed that. We needed the experience, and just the repetition. Every venue is different, every environment, every crowd. You cut your teeth and it makes you stronger.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO LOCAL ARTISTS HOPING TO MAKE A CAREER IN MUSIC?

It’s tough, because for each person it’s so different. Getting out there and working hard, playing as many shows as possible—that's all really great experience. But also focus on the music itself. If you’re going to make a music video or a recording, take your time—don’t half-ass it. Wait until you know what you’re doing. Although, you kind of have to learn from your mistakes, too.

Catch Angela Perley with special guests The Cordial Sins on September 6 at Skully’s Music-Diner for the release show of her new album, titled 4:30.

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(614) Sessions

614 Sessions: Doc Robinson

Mike Thomas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4QdxpbrZgg&feature=youtu.be

Doc Robinson, the collaboration of Columbus music stalwarts Jon Elliott and Nick D’Andrea, joined us for this session in the 614 offices to share their unique brand of "Backyard BBQ Breakup music."

While here, the duo played stripped-down acoustic versions of their songs "Wilderness" and "Wild Beauty."

To hear more from Doc Robinson, follow them on your streaming platform of choice, or visit https://www.docrobinsonofficial.com/

Be sure to catch the group at Woodlands Tavern on Saturday, September 21, when they'll be joined by Hebdo, Parker Louis, Honey and Blue and many more for their Family Jamboree.

Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/artist/5O0efDEpkqEmWbXD2zpkjz

Apple Music:
https://music.apple.com/us/artist/doc-robinson/1116027164
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Producer: Mike Thomas
Videographers: Adam Fakult, Mitch Hooper, Mike Thomas
Audio Mixing/Mastering: Jared Huntley
Video Editing: Mike Thomas
Contact: [email protected]
Website: 614now.com

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(614) Sessions

(614) Sessions: The Turbos

Mike Thomas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ThYK1D0000

The Turbos’ high-octane heroics have earned the group a fierce following in the Columbus rock scene and beyond. Combining shredding guitar virtuosity with soaring, anthemic vocals, co-frontmen Alex D. and Lucas Esterline lead the group in a sound that combines the best of the old and the new. Rounded out by the multi-talented Cameron Reck on bass and mononymous local music veteran Jahrie behind the kit, the Turbos are leading the charge for a new generation of rockers.

For the first of what we hope will be many in a new music series we're calling The (614) Sessions, The Turbos joined us in our offices for a stripped-down acoustic set. Despite leaving the electrics at home, the power of their performance was still enough to garner multiple noise complaints (sorry, neighbors).

For show dates and more, be sure to follow The Turbos on Facebook. Big thanks to the group for sharing their music as our first-ever guests in this new endeavor!

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Producer: Mike Thomas
Videographers: Mike Thomas, Adam Fakult, Mitch Hooper
Audio Mixing/Mastering: Jared Huntley Video
Editing: Mitch Hooper
Contact: [email protected]

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