What: Whistler Music and Arts Festival
When: Friday, Aug. 11, 6 p.m.
Where: Whistler Village Square
A phone call finds Kuba Oms, frontman for Victoria’s underground dance collective Velvet, in the midst of recording.
His makeshift studio is poignantly staged above the Victoria haunt where the band played every Sunday for a decade.
Sunday nights at Steamers Pub is always standing room only, with Velvet’s sensational organic electronic dance music drawing in devout fans week after week. The band’s electric groove is hard to get sick of. They never play the same set twice.
Their funked up, jazzed up soul that has sexed up dance floors across North America is composed right on stage. The band is considered Canada’s leading pioneer of live dance music. Go ahead and close your eyes, you would swear a DJ was behind their sound, but with all the twists and turns of improvisation adding even more to the excitement of their explosive shows.
"It’s therapeutic and liberating for me," Oms said of the band’s improvisation. "You are coming up with words and melodies on the spot. You have to open your mouth and trust yourself, relax and believe you can trust where things are going. It is quite the feeling."
Even in recording his new solo album, Oms operates in the same free flowing possibilities with the drum tracks coming to life jam style. Daniel Clifford, who recently signed with Sony, joins Oms on keyboards for the album.
Oms keeps things simple for the recording: a hotel room, a computer and a little software. It’s a big change from his four-track, thousands-of-dollars an hour studio recording of his early days.
This is Oms’s second solo album; the first never even made it to public listening, not because it was bad, but too good.
"I had some private investment for my first solo album and it was produced so well, I never put it out: it didn’t really represent me," Oms said. "I’ve got a bit of a rugged personality. The album came across too poppy it was so well produced. I went back and re-recorded some of the songs and dressed everything down."
Oms has shared stages with the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Nelly Furtado, Blackalicious and The Beautiful Girls (who are coming Aug. 27-28 to the Garibaldi Lift Company). Oms also sang with Joey Keithley on the last D.O.A. album.
When not singing solo, Oms is fronting Velvet, with its revolving door of invited musicians. Recent coos for the band include a month’s residency at The Media Club in Vancouver and the band’s song This Heaven closed out the documentary Let It Ride , a film about the life and times of late snowboard legend Craig Kelly. Other music featured in the film included Metallica and K-Os – not too shabby for company.
Check out Velvet’s music at www.myspace.com/kubavelvet.
Velvet bring their live electronica dance music to the Whistler Music and Arts Festival Friday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. at festival mainstage in Village Square. Admission is