Disco Goes Silent at The Boathouse
By: Elise Hugus, August 13, 2012
Macallen Coats/Treeline Artists - Jeff Bujak is a Northampton, MA based keyboardist/producer/IDM composer.
Step onto the dance floor at The Boathouse this Wednesday, August 15 and you’ll be able to hear a pin drop.
But the club will be busy, the dance floor packed with people grooving to electronic music silently pumped through 75 wireless headphones.
Welcome to Silent Disco, the 21st century answer to Saturday Night Fever.
If you go...
Featuring Jeff "Silent Buj" Bujak & DJ Steel Wool
Wednesday, August 15 @ 10 PMThe Boathouse
88 Scranton Avenue Falmouth
It’s also the answer to noise complaints in densely populated areas, said promoter Billy "The One" Henrique, who handles booking at The Boathouse.
Having seen Silent Disco at Bonaroo and Gathering of the Vibes music festivals, as well as clubs in New York and Boston, Henrique said he wanted to bring something unique and neighbor-friendly to Cape Cod.
“Silent Disco is something that the town’s never seen or done before but it’s taking off in a progressive way all around the country,” he said.
Weather willing, the dance floor will move out to the venue’s back deck, complete with a light show and glow sticks.
Wearing headphones, participants will be able to switch between two music channels, one featuring contemporary dance music from DJ Steel Wool; the other streaming “intelligent dance music” by the Northampton-based producer Jeff Bujak.
EDM vs. IDM
Intelligent dance music, or IDM, is a genre that defies genre. Part electronica, part jazz, part classical, part jam band, IDM has punched its way out of urban centers in recent years, attracting a following across musical and cultural boundaries.
In many ways, Bujak exemplifies the renaissance of electronic music in American pop culture. After abandoning his classical piano training at age 13 and getting an associate’s degree in business, the Syracuse, NY native found himself playing keys with the Arizona-based folk-jam band Somebody’s Closet.
Bujak got his first taste of electronica while the band was on tour of the Northeast, and was immediately hooked. He soon began incorporating “dark, cloudy, and snowy” themes in his music with the help of an electronic beat generator and the Fender Rhodes.
Bujak prefers the umbrella term “electonic dance music,” or EDM, to describe his work, finding the word “intelligent” a little pretentious. Still, he says IDM is an appealing way for artists and their fans to think about music and movement: a logical, mathematically-driven mashup of everything from trance to dubstep to prog rock—and even with some classical music undertones.
“Dance music needs to follow certain patterns in order to make people dance. I think with IDM, the intelligent part is being able to change it on the fly,” Bujak said in a phone interview before his first Cape appearance last fall. “It’s like jam music—jam electronica. It’s thinking outside the box, being able to do it right then. It’s not that I’m smarter than everyone else.”
Dancing by number
Perhaps all musicians are closet mathematicians. But hearing Bujak describe his writing process (nothing is actually scored) or watching a video of a live show, one gets the inklings of what it’s like to see a modern-day Mozart at work.
“I visually see my songs in a waveform from left to right. In my head, I write in 4/4 beat, which is more comfortable for everybody. The human body is just synched to fours, and people want something after 16 beats. They’re going to expect something to crescendo, but I’ll take it somewhere else. I’ll do a beat cut, going from dance music to dubstep. It’s math, absolutely all math,” he said.
So what makes a Jeff Bujak show different from a typical DJ set? Yes, he’s got a laptop and lights—and often rounds out the performance with a hula-hooper with a fiberoptic LED-lit hoop, or the occasional poi twirler or fire-eater in the crowd. But he’s also got keyboards and effect pedals. The only samples one hears are stripped-down references from the Talking Heads, Nirvana, and Snoop Dog—even the Nintendo theme song.
After more than four years on the road, Bujak says his particular breed of music is catching on, slowly but surely, across America.
“With IDM, people don’t know why they like it yet,” he says. “Whether it’s going to be huge, I want to keep trying. I do see growth in it. My following is increasing, so I know I’m doing something right.”
Having played on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard in the past, Bujak says playing venues where people are used to rock cover bands is part of the fun of being an IDM artist.
“The experience of being where people don’t expect you, where you can give them sensory overload, is really what I want. I want to saturate people’s eyes and minds,” he said. “We’ll make a story out of it.”