“None of us have ever played anything like this before,” singer Kelly Koval says of her five bandmates in Audiafauna and the surprising folktronica sound they’ve stumbled upon. “There’s no real lead instrument,” she continues. “It all just builds into one. We are one big instrument.” And as one big instrument, the 22-year-old and her cohorts are making one big impression. A fresh mosaic of acoustic strings, electronic soundscapes, dreamy vocals and brash hip-hop nuances, Audiafauna combines the classical with the cutting-edge—and it’s making plenty of ears perk up around town.
Less than a year old, the band is seducing audiences with a magnetic appeal that sinuously shifts between songs that can be playful or deeply moving; violin, cello, dobro and standup bass erupt against synth atmospherics, and beat box interjections play the foil to cherubic croons. This week, the sextet brings it all to the Kuumbwa Jazz stage on Friday, April 30, with Matador and Dustin St. Wright rounding out a night of intricate strings and solid songwriting. Since Koval’s warm yet brawny pipes provide the backbone for Audiafauna’s whimsical allure, it’s hard to imagine that before standing at the helm of this project she was a self-described “shy little choir girl.” Now, with a dynamic backing band, she’s creating a stir with her stage presence and sound that recently had onlookers defying weather and walls to get a glimpse. “We had people standing outside in the rain with their ears up to the glass,” Koval remembers in awe of the band’s sold out Crepe Place show in February. “The atmosphere was so connected, it was inspiring, and we really tried to involve the audience.” With a mix of 15 songs including the fragile ballad “Fallen,” the danceable rap of “Piana,” and the soulful gospel of “Goin’ There Strong,” the ensemble’s original repertoire, energetic and emotive, serves up something for every ear. Catch them before you’re left outside leaning up against the glass for a listen—and still lovin’ it.
INFO: 8 p.m. Friday, April 30. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $10. 427-2227. myspace.com/audiafauna.