A&E » Arts

Portrait of a Librarian

Andrea Graham, a.k.a. The Librarian, drops a new EP and the third Bass Coast Project installment



Never mind the fact that Andrea Graham is throwing arguably the most hyped Sea to Sky event of the summer season this weekend. And never mind that she's kept busy with regular DJ sets as The Librarian in Whistler and around the province all month. Let's focus one thing at a time here because we only have 600 words, and that's her new EP.

Ok. It's called Arctic Swallow and it's a four-song voyage through a tribal cave-dwelling elf colony buried deep in the forest. Seriously. It's heady and weird and wonderful and it's been released this week through East Van Digital. So if you can't make it to Bass Coast Project this weekend at least check this out.

"The tracks are a different take on bass music," Graham says. "They're sexy and gritty and they've got space. There's some power to them. They'll definitely make you want to dance.

The tracks weave elements of hip hop and jazz while remaining rooted in bass music and driven by melody. Trained in jazz piano, Graham says the classic jazz standards she grew up playing have significantly influenced her approach to songwriting.

"I love melody, I love chord changes and I love improvisation. There's elements of that in music production and in DJing because you're never playing the same thing exactly twice," she says.

"When you're up there you're changing the flow of things to reflect what the crowd and the audience are like. That's very similar to jazz. You feed off the audience. It's a two-way street with the energy with the audience and that's the same with jazz."

Born in Toronto, Graham grew up in B.C. and attended high school in Kelowna. She's played music all her life in different capacities: jazz piano training, in rock bands in Vancouver and as a singer/songwriter in Whistler. She started producing music out of necessity - she could never remember what she was writing. She purchased all the software for a home studio and recorded her songs.

Around the same time she moved to Squamish she decided to move away from gigging around Whistler.

"It's a great place for singers to work and play but after awhile I felt like I wanted to get away from playing cover songs and to do music that inspired me. My tastes had just evolved into electronic music."

She started experimenting with her bass and dubstep, inspired by her experiences at music festivals like Shambhala. By the time she had purchased a set of turntables she knew exactly what her music would sound like.

She now plays alongside Mat the Alien every other week at Maxx Fish on its now-legendary Tuesday dubstep nights. And this weekend, she's throwing the Bass Coast Project alongside partners Andrea Oakden and Liz Thomson. It's three days of Burning Man-inspired music and art, celebrating love and dance and being human. Graham's responsible for the music programming,

"It's one of the biggest challenges that all of us has faced," she says about the festival. "Every year the challenges have been morphed into new things that are coming at (us) but we're learning a lot. There's always a way to work through them and grow and work as a team."

As for her music, she's still deeply in love with bass and electronic music. For the time being, the verse-chorus-verse rock tunes are a thing of the past.

"I feel that over time my style will evolve and change. Just looking at my past history it has and that is a potential for the future," she says. "But right now I like to take the elements of those songs, even if it's me sort of recreating it with my own style, and then fusing it in that direction I'm going in now with music."