||from the May 8-14, 2003 edition of Good Times - Santa Cruz County's news and entertainment weekly
Out there? Yes. But Spacefairy’s sonic fusion is anything but boring.
by Damon Orion
Like pushing a speed dial button on a phone, asking the members of Portland, Oregon’s Spacefairy for a description of their sound sets off a rapid-fire barrage of responses: Rolling. Trance-inducing. Hypnotic. Seismic. Dreamtime music. It boils, it toils. It rocks. Sometimes abrasive. Tasty. It closes the door on its way out. Puts down the toilet seat, too! It turns the lights on and off. It tickles you deep down inside! Sometimes my loins rumble. It’s music to fight crime to. It’s space-porn music!
Colorful as these descriptions might be, they hardly prepare one for the witchy, frothing psychedelia of Spacefairy’s music. The group swirls the tribal wail of Dead Can Dance with the galactic bash of Hawkwind and Helios Creed, taking its listeners on a hyperspace flight to the cortexes of the brain where dreams, visions and hallucinations are born. Guiding the tour is a Pleiadian pixie named Alix Sun, whose ghostly, reptilian chants are often in a language not of this earth.
I call it neo-ancient, Alix explains. I’m using my voice as another instrument to harmonize with what we’re all doing. What I sing could be lyrics if I made it into lyrics, or it could be the sounds for a violin or cello. I’m just channeling pseudo-words.
Slurds, suggests bassist Jonathan Trainor. The other members of the band crack up, trying the new word on for size.
I swear to God there’s one song where she sings ‘wild horses’ over and over again, and ‘moon shadow,’ guitarist/effects fiend Joshua Camozzi Milligan insists, eliciting a dismissive psshhh from Alix. She denies every bit of it, but it’s clear as day!
Watching a Spacefairy rehearsal, I get the eerie feeling the band is doing Reiki on my brain by way of subsonic frequencies. Joshua, suffering from the flu, spends most of the practice sitting down. When Jonathan asks him about a song he’s recently written at the peak of fever-dream delirium, Joshua slams into a dirty Chili-Peppers-meets -Hieronymous Bosch riff in 7/8 time. The rest of the band kicks in quickly, pulling off some tricky synchronized stop-starts that couldn’t have been slicker if they were pre-arranged. Soon Joshua is up from his chair, flailing his two dreds around and surfing the groove despite his weakened state.
I just got my Rock on a little too hard there, he says after the song ends. Can we do something mellow?
During a break, Joshua explains how he conjures all the seagull squawks and cyclone-on-Saturn swooshes from his gallery of trip toys: I start out with a signal, either from the microphone with my voice or other doodads and stuff through that the guitar, guitar synthesizer or the theremin. Then they all run through a big menagerie of things such as my two Moogerfooger analog synth modules - a ring modulator and a 12-step phaser. The phaser makes swirly sounds, kind of like a flanger, and the ring modulator makes really strange blurpy-cheepy-chirpy noises. I have a Line 6 loop-phase-delay modulator, two KAOSS Pads which I use mostly for their delay and for the really strange noise emulators they have, and an Electrix Repeater, which is another loop phase station.
Later, Joshua shares an acronym for the band’s name that a friend of his has come up with: Society Promoting Acid-Culture Ecstasy For America’s Innocent Roadside Youth. Approving grins break out all around.
Drummer Dan Stauffer, who exudes the presence of a Buddhist James Dean, explains that the band name provokes a wide range of reactions. A lot of ladies will immediately go, ‘Ooh! Cool!’ With guys, you never really know. If they’ve got that ‘guy’ guy thing going on, they immediately say, ‘Whoa! Spacefairy?!?’ But the truth is, we still fuckin’ rock! We can pull out things that would make all those guys
well, do whatever they do when they go to a show! I don’t know what they do. Stand in the back and nod their heads
I’m not sure!
So does fear of losing badass points make the three nut-bearing band members act extra dude-ly when they perform? No, according to Dan. We just really hope that for the large part, there aren’t too many baseball caps in the audience.
When I ask what sorts of folks usually do show up at a Spacefairy gig, it starts another sound byte storm: Normal-looking folk, freaky-looking folk, Gothic-looking folk
Chinese, Japanese. Swiss Cheese. Germans. The criminally insane. Tweakers, freakers. Skaters. Junkies.
Oh, yeah. Junkies love our music, Alix deadpans.
Space whores! offers Dan.
We get a lot of stripper energy, too, Jonathan chimes in, sounding happy. Fire dancers, Burning Man kids. We do a lot of live shows interacting with fire performances.
No one can really pin us, either, says Alix. It’s like, ‘Are they hippies
? Or goths
? What the hell are these people? Led Zeppelin? Pink Floyd?’ No one can pin us individually, and no one can pin the music, either.
Well, that’s what you get for creating your own aesthetic instead of clicking into predictable, formulaic stencil rock. And the Spacefairy folk aren’t just different from all the connect-the-dots bands out there they’re diametrically opposed to them.
Our music is like a spell being cast out into the world of dying spirits of the musical rat race, Alix riffs. It clears off the windshields of their crazy chase for the almighty dollar in the music biz-nessss. So it’s actually a clarifying cleanser-tonic that you take to clear up all that bullshit.
Jonathan agrees, I’d have to say the worst bands are the ones that are faking it just to fill a mold and sell records, and not making the music they really want to do. It’s like, (in a dopey voice) ‘Well, I’m really successful, and pretty soon I’ll do the stuff I really love doing.’ To me, you should always start with the love and work your way out from there.