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[Artist Spotlight] New Thousand are the reason I missed Pretty Lights at BUKU Music + Art Project 2016

The crowd during Pretty Lights at BUKU. Photo by Kyle Miller of the Saucy Monster for Compose Yourself Mag.

It’s safe to say the Pretty Lights Fam was in full force at BUKU this year as Derek Vincent Smith aka Pretty Lights was set to not only headline the second night of the fest, accompanied by his full live band, but was also performing a very special and unique analog live set at the Joy Theater for one of BUKU’s official after parties. The thought of two PL sets in the same night was promising, and for the PL Fam meant a full night blessed with futuristic beats and soulful old school hip hop. Well, I missed out, on both.

Before anyone starts making any assumptions I just want to say that this was a fully sober decision. And don’t worry, I didn’t miss Pretty Lights entirely, I just got a bit sidetracked…

Pretty Lights performing at this year’s BUKU Music + Art Project. Photo by Kyle Miller of the Saucy Monster for Compose Yourself Mag

As a responsible member of the press team I made sure to snap some pics for the first 15 minutes from the press pit so I can snag some up close and personal shots of D and the band. They opened with a booming High School Art Class, warming up the crowd and creating some wiggle room. Then busted out the super throwback How We Do followed by Gazing At The Glare. I definitely was feeling the PL vibes but unfortunately my up close and personal time was coming to an end. Now, I’m pretty used to getting kicked out of press pits but never have I ever been kicked out of the pit into a crowd as massive as a PL crowd. It felt like everyone at the entire festival was crowded around the Power Plant Stage and finding my cousin seemed nearly impossible. With my camera gear raised over my head, I pushed my way from the very front, stage left, all the way to the very back of the crowd. After nearly 2 songs and a 10 minute struggle later, I was finally reunited. At this point I was desperate for a quick smoke break to ease my mind, as pushing your way through a crowd of that size (especially as a smaller person) is quite the hassle. That’s when we decided to take a step away from the main stage.

To my disbelief, there were a lot of people not at PL still roaming around the grounds. As we hit my pen and strolled away from the pulsating bass reverberating off the main stage we heard the faint sound of violin. As a curious festival goer I was naturally drawn to discover what else was going on. The violin grew louder and a drum beat became audible. My first thought, “Govinda surprise set?”

No. Better.

We walked up to a gathering of people under a tent packed around a small band set up and two wedding-bar mitzvah sized speakers. Picture a Govinda hip-hop themed live band, complete with violinist, keyboard player, and electronic percussionist. A hard hitting trap beat set the tone while the keyboard player laid down a bass groove and brought in some high end notes to fill the sound space. The violinist tossed down his bow and plucked along. The violin was hooked into an guitar FX pedal allowing the plucks to echo and loop. The crowd was vibing and almost everyone passing couldn’t resist stopping to hear what was going on. The jam mellowed out and the drummer kept a steady beat. The violinist grabbed his bow back up off the floor and began to play lightly, slowly easing the crowd into a trance. Then suddenly, with a quick flick of a pedal switch, the beautiful delicate sound of the violin was transformed into a chilling screech. My ears were in disbelief as I was suddenly hearing Jimi Hendrix rocking out on a violin. The wah-wah guitar FX pedal along with some distortion turned the sweet sounds of the violin into a tasteful metal riff. The solo ended with the crowd literally begging for more. “We are New Thousand!” exclaimed the violinist. I never ended up going back to catch the rest of Pretty Lights. I left the festival grounds completely mind blown, New Thousand CD in hand.

Photo courtesy of BUKU Music + Art Project 2016 via Facebook.

New Thousand played one of my favorite sets at Buku without a doubt. There’s something about catching genuine local talent that always intrigues me even more than festival headliners. You get a feeling like you discovered a city’s or festival’s best kept secret. I knew I discovered a new favorite live electronic group.

After a long night of partying, (shout out to everyone at the Dirtybird after party reading this. That was so damn lit) along with daylight’s saving time, my cousin and I were ready to face the world around 3 pm. Food was a priority so we began our venture into the French Quarter to grab a bite, when all of a sudden, deja vu. Violin in the distance. The subtle kick and snare off a drum pad was audible. Could it be? New Thousand, round 2, on the streets of New Orleans.

Familiar BUKU faces filled the small crowd gathered around the street corner. Every passerby stopped to have a listen and the crowd continued to grow. A sweaty violinist, who’s name I now learned was Adrian Jusdanis, was ripping through violin solos while Alex Koltun was still holding down the drum pad. This performance was a special 2 piece improvisational set, running off of a portable power supply and 2 small speakers. Adrian used his FX pedal to record violin loops over the live hip-hop beats. Once setting a medley, he built onto the track by creating additional loops and eventually leading into another face melting violin solo.

Words can’t really describe the sounds this dude can make from his violin. It’s something that must be seen in person. Just about when I thought I’ve seen it all from these guys, Adrian put his violin up to his mouth and started whistling. The whistle was picked up by the amp and projected out to the crowd combining a psy hip-hop feel with almost a western cowboy vibe. This might sound a little weird but it sure was a mind blowing experience and pleasure to hear. When the boys wrapped up their set, it was finally time to go eat.

I can guarantee that you will see New Thousand on the main stage one day. If you’re ever in New Orleans you absolutely must put a New Thousand show on your bucket list. Check out their outlets below for info on upcoming shows and new music.

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