Weird Guide to Murmuration, Featuring Q&A with ICE

(Yowie x Chizmo.tv)

With the St. Louis music scene recently described as ‘bubbling’ and the city being recognized as the new startup frontier, there’s no surprise that Loufest Co-Founder Brian Cohen and Cortex President + CEO Dennis Lower came together to hatch upcoming inaugural Murmuration Festival Sept. 23-25 at Cortex.

Murmuration is 3-day festival featuring influential speakers, national innovation thought-leaders, a juried art competition and cutting-edge music performances new this year to St. Louis. Innovators, scientists, artists and entrepreneurs are invited to engage the public and share their work. Cutting-edge music performances are featured throughout the day and into the night. See the schedule here.

Some elements of the festival require tickets, such as the music and thought series, and other elements are completely free to attend. These amazingly free areas include Friday@Murmuration, Maker Expo, STL Innovation Showcase, Art@Murmuration, Eats@Murmuration and the family-friendly Future Innovators Zone. Find out more and purchase tickets here.

The fest kicks off with Friday@Murmuration (free), which features a fashion presentation featuring local designers Ameli Blaser, Marcel Coleman, Nasheli Juliana, Trang Nguyen and Jena Miller. There will also be live concerts from members of the St. Louis Symphony, 18 & Counting and performance artist Basil Kincaid. Plus, a pop-up art market, curated by Westminster Press, where attendees can purchase original artwork and wares from local makers.

I appreciate that this fest is a mix of both local and national talent as well as merging art, music, science and tech. It’s truly an all-encompassing cultural and educational experience. I’m excited for the more well-known acts like Flying Lotus, Deerhoof and Suuns, but also so very stoked that ICE (fka Black James) and Yowie, two of my current local music favorites, are gracing the fest with their presence.

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(Pictured ICE, Photo by Attilio D’Agostino Courtesey of ALIVE Magazine)

Some of you may already know, I’m an ICE fangirl. I’m not ashamed! Have you listened to PullAPart PullNPray on scream club? IMMA JUNK YARD HOTTIE, GOTTA JUNK YARD BODY. And, BLOGWAR hits home because, well, obviously. The St. Louis music scene is small, so I see ICE around and it’s been great getting to know and work with her. SHE’S NOT A DJ–SHE’S AN ARTIST.

ICE just released the*hot* new single Nuclear Wave off her upcoming self-released album and was recently featured in ALIVE Magazine. So, you could say she’s killing it at the moment. Like Anatoly Karman said in the SoundCloud comments, “it’s nice to be underwater again.” In anticipation for the new album, fest appearance and a few other things ICE (Jennifer McDaniel) has a hand in, I asked her about what she’s up to: 

WC: You’re formerly known as Black James and used to do country tunes back in the day. Can you tell me a little bit about the progression in your music style?

I: I come from Knoxville, Tennessee in the foothills of the Appalachia Mountains. I grew up with rednecks and church goers who sing hymns and country standards older than us. This music is naturally ingrained in my psyche. I moved to St. Louis 12 years ago, and as I began to write my own music here, I reached for the banjo – a familiar and comforting sound from my past. The banjo and my voice became the backbone to every song I wrote. Over time, I learned how to play other instruments and how to use electronic music machines. ICE fka Black James is a reflection of my constant writing and creating process. If you listen to my music chronologically, you can hear the music and technical knowledge I’ve gained along the way. I still consider the music I make now Country…it just has the addition of electronic manipulation….so I started calling this genre “Underwater”. If you stripped down my Underwater songs, you’d see they are still just a voice and a melody that could be picked on a banjo.

WC: I love that you’re doing a podcast. Can you tell me a little about what you’re trying to do with it?

I: It’s called *STL ICE HOUSE*. It’s an internet audio/visual show I livestream from the *STL ICE HOUSE*, right here in South City St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Usually on Sunday nights for at least an hour, or until I feel like I’ve exhausted all the most recent relevant premieres. I focus primarily on showcasing St. Louis and East St. Louis artists & activists that are overlooked or under publicized . We have so many talented people in town that go virtually unheard. These artists deserve to be noticed because of their incredible talent and bravery to speak out and against local oppression. Recently, speaking out against local oppression has proven to be deadly i.e. RIP DARREN SEALS. As a community, we must make time to actually listen to the voices of our fellow citizens and those who make art. Listen to their voices and you will hear a reflection of the St. Louis community – a community with a long history of pain and trauma. STL ICE HOUSE is a vessel – a bottle in the ocean holding a crinkled piece of paper listing the names of those powerful voices.

Check out *STL ICE HOUSE* here.

WC: What can we expect from the new upcoming album?

I: ICY2K will be released Friday Sept 23 here >>> blackjames.bandcamp.com

The album is a brutal progression. It begins on a very harsh tone – a reflection of my own feelings of frustration and desperation that come from living in St. Louis. Choppers hover low over my home everyday. Screams and chaotic underground drum machine machine guns. I need to escape so I visit the shore of the Mississippi. I need time for personal introspection. So I sit on the riverbank and watch the river carry by the logs and bodies that were once alive. I practice Transcendental Meditation. I walk to the water. “Do not touch it – it’s contaminated”. I jump in anyway and dive all the way down to the bottom. I am Underwater. What takes place down here is fantastical and the species are evolved from nuclear runoff. I drink bottled water Underwater. I love to swim and I am free.

WC: What are you most looking forward to during Murmuration?

I: St. Louis’s own Maxi Glamour & Blye Cpanx will be joining me on stage. Both of them are extremely talented & successful performance artists / makeup + costume designers. They have been dancing on stage at ICE/Black James shows since 2012 and all 3 of us have sorta blossomed as artists since then. It will feel good to have part of the original freak crew on stage. It gives me more confidence when they are with me!! Plus they are just so amazing to watch. And also, I am designing my own visuals that will be on the big LED screens on stage. The visuals will be a preview into ICE’s own virtual reality. I’m really excited to keep diving deeper into 3D!!!!! And I’m excited to be a part of a festival that incorporates Art + Music + Technology + Science right here in St. Louis. My hope is that Murmuration acts as catapult to launch thoughtful dialogue, ideology, and scientific techniques that can help our community heal, grow, and succeed! I believe that we can make healthy progress in St. Louis and overcome our issues with race, oppression, economics, police / political corruption, and environmental assault from local corporations. I believe that we have to come together right now and truly love each other in order to survive and thrive. We must support and stand with our fellow citizens and communities who are under attack. We must nurture the people who have creative solutions in order to help our city flourish!

~*Thank you ICE*~

Don’t miss ICE with Maxi Glamour & Blye Cpanx at Murmuration Festival 9.25 at 2:45PM.

In addition to the interestingly impressive music lineup, thought sessions ranging from a variety of topics will be taking place. I’m most looking forward to attending Boom! Welcome to the Maker Revolution by Mark Hatch of highly anticipated, new to St. Louis TechShop, Art’s Ability to Predict the Future, How Digital Is Changing the Meaning of Reality, Innovations Impact on Bringing Products to Market with Eric Johnson of STL Fashion Fund and What’s Really Happening On Earth and What Should We Do About It? with President Emeritus of MOBOT. I’m a born again nerd, so I’m going to enjoy digging in at these talks, asking questions and taking notes.

I feel lucky to be experiencing the budding arts scene in St. Louis right now. I can’t think of a better place I’d like to be than here, for the time being. I’m so glad that Murmuration Festival recognized the interests of the community and created such an interesting celebration of culture. I’ll be at the fest Friday through Sunday as well as showing fellow bloggers and influencers around St. Louis, so follow @weird_culture, #Murmuration16 + #ExploreStLouis for all the updates.

Check out Weird Culture’s Murmuration ’16 YouTube playlist here.

 

This post was in partnership with ALIVE Influencer Network. All opinions are my own.

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Style, Art + Culture

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