Arts and Entertainment

‘Deep Wake’ takes first place at EMP

'The Deep Wake,' aka singer songwriters Laura Jean Anderson and Bainbridge resident Alex Foley, won first place in the first round of Experience Music Project’s “Sound Off!” contest.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

To be perfectly honest, and he is, Adam Foley forgot he’d submitted a few songs to Sound Off!, a battle-of-the-bands type program from Experience Music Project. With only 12 open slots from the entire Northwest, qualifying was anything but a sure thing. Besides, he was a little distracted.

He’d only just met singer-songwriter Laura-Jean Anderson when they both played sets at an acoustic house party in Olympia. Within days, the two, both 21, embarked on a road trip down the West coast to Los Angeles where Anderson is enrolled in a voice program at Cal Arts.

Back on Bainbridge, Foley has kept the long-distance relationship simmering, so when Sound Off! sent word that their band,  “The Deep Wake,” had been accepted, Anderson flew to Seattle to take part.

“We’d only rehearsed three or four times as a band,” Foley said Wednesday. They were both used to performing at house parties, for friends and in jam sessions with other musicians.

“The Deep Wake” drew the last slot in the Feb. 11 semi-finals, competing against “Dungeon Science,” Seattle techno-hiphop band “The Unibroz”  and “Sam Lachow,”  a hybrid hip hop-jazz-pop band. The competition is open to bands whose members are ages 21 and under, and at least half hail from the Northwest.

Foley was surprised at the intimate connection they were able to make with the crowd in EMP’s auditorium.

“I think they were ready to hear something a little more personal rather than see another performance,” Foley said.

“The Deep Wake” weaves acoustic guitar, fiddle and banjo “through deeply personal and soulful musical landscapes.”

The themes emerge organically from “the conflicts of being human,” he said. “With each lyric, I try to say something that’s true, not just use a word because it sounds good. It’s too easy to go to the cliché.”

That truth resonated with both the audience and judges at the Sound Off! performance. “The Deep Wake” won in both audience satisfaction and judge’s approval categories.

The win has left a deep wake in Foley’s inbox.

“I’ve been swamped with emails,” he said, fighting off what might be strep throat. “The Deep Wake” win has been covered in the Seattle Times and The Stranger. He’s had offers already for free recording time and bands who’d like to play together.

The winner of the finals on March 3 gets a performance at Bumbershoot 2012, a live on-air performance on 107.7 fm, gear, studio time, industry consultation and even more buzz.

“We were definitely not expecting to win,” he said. “We’ll just try to do our best, try not to be more than what the music wants to be.”

But first, “The Deep Wake” has to figure out how to get Anderson back up to Seattle. Supporters can chip in on the band’s website (www.thedeepwake.bandcamp.com).

Foley also hopes to see some “friendly faces” in the crowd on March 3. Winners are selected based on both judge’s and the crowd’s reaction.

“The Deep Wake” will compete with three other bands at the Sound Off! finals at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at Sky Church at Experience Music Project in Seattle. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $12, $8 for students.

For more information, visit www.empmuseum.org.

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