Bluetech welcomes Don Quixote’s patrons to his sonic greenhouse
When Evan Bartholomew composes a song, he begins with what he calls “a tiny seed.” “I’m silent for a minute, and I hear … maybe it’s a bass line; maybe it’s a rhythm pattern; maybe it’s something my hand is tapping on the steering wheel while I’m driving in the car,” he explains. “And then I go in the studio and attempt to sow the seed—get it down, get that idea tracked.”
It’s fitting that Bartholomew—who performs his downtempo electronica music under the name of Bluetech—should reach for this particular metaphor: His home recording studio in Hawaii is filled with literal seedlings. The musician has a nursery of more than 2,000 bromeliads, a type of epiphyte (a plant that can grow without soil) found in the tropical Americas. Because the habitat for the plants he collects is being rapidly decimated, some of these species no longer exist in the wild. He hopes to use his music to draw attention to this situation.
“I would like for people to experience the music and have that sense of wonder—to realize that I’m translating something that I’m experiencing working with the natural world,” he offers. “Maybe it will help create a love and a passion in my generation for saving some of these species and habitat and the natural beauty that surrounds us.”
Bartholomew’s latest project, Invisible Allies, finds him collaborating with electronic musician KiloWatts (a.k.a. James Watts). The group’s virgin release is Hyperdimensional Animals, an EP consisting of five new songs and five remixes. On Thursday, Dec. 30 at Don Quixote’s, Bartholomew will perform songs from the EP as well as from a full-length Invisible Allies album currently in the works.
Bartholomew and Watts, who have been in contact with one another for about five years, began their collaboration from a distance: One artist would start a piece of music and then send it to the other person. When the tracks bounced back and forth, the musicians knew they had a match. “We have the same general vocabulary and way that we think about music, so it’s been a really fruitful, creative collaboration,” Bartholomew states. “A lot of people write tracks specifically to be tracks; the way he composes seems like he’s thinking about it more as composition, which is more the way I approach music.”
The metaphysical implications of the name Invisible Allies are indicative of Bartholomew’s intent to “impart a sense of otherness” through his music. “I’ve always wanted to move people from one state of being into another—in some way inject mysticism into the mundane,” he notes. “Whether they’re in a car, at home or at a party listening to music, I would like to create the experience of another world, or open a door into the dreamtime, the world of meaning, symbols, idea, mythology and spirits of the organic.”
At the same time, the musician tries to avoid being “too woo-woo-juju or New Age.” He observes that “for some people, math is mysticism,” adding, “I think that our capacity for experiencing the spectrum of energetic frequencies is much bigger than most people realize, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be labeled spirituality or mysticism. It’s just a sense of wonder and awe at the fact that the universe is infinitely complex and larger than we realize.”
But is the sense of wonder getting through to his audience? Bartholomew says that at every show, he struggles with the fact that he’s playing indoors in cities. “It’s a disparity that I’m always looking at, figuring out my intention, and figuring out if I’m getting the message out, and if not, what I can do better to get that message across,” he admits.
So what has he learned in the process? “You know, it seems like when I’m most frustrated and feel like I’m either preaching to the choir or playing for people who are not interested in consciousness—they’re actually interested in being obliterated—there’s always one person who comes up to me and tells me that my music has touched them,” the musician states. “It may be one in a thousand, but if I’m touching somebody, then I feel like I’m being effective.”
Bluetech plays with DJ Little John at 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 30, at Don Quixote’s, 6275 Highway 9, Felton. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 at the door. For more information, call 603-2294.