Ann Arbor electronic-music producer Jack Withers turns sadness into sound on his new album, "The Price of Beauty"
How does an artist alchemize sadness into something beautiful?
Withers has released music consistently since around 2019 and is heavily involved in the electronic music community in Ann Arbor as co-president and graphic designer for the Michigan Electronic Music Collective. His music, with influences from Aphex Twin to Flume, ranges from energetic drum 'n' bass to organic ambient sounds.
The Price of Beauty is Wither's shortest album. It's also his most experimental while at the same time feeling the most grounded, perhaps due to a more pared-down sound.
We talked with Withers about his new album, his work, and what’s next.
Scrolling through Bandcamp’s releases tagged “Ypsilanti,” it won’t be long before you find a mysterious label called AGN7 Audio that's releasing top-notch new drum 'n' bass songs and albums—along with some techno and dub—by artists from around the world.
Founded in 2015, AGN7—pronounced “Agent"—is one of the few modern labels to focus so deeply on d 'n' b, also known as jungle, which started in the early '90s U.K. rave scene and is characterized by fast, skittering breakbeats and a dystopian-funk vibe.
Despite garnering respect among hardcore junglists, there’s not much AGN7 information or media coverage out there, and the label tends to keep a low profile. So we reached out to AGN7 co-founder and current chief, Aaren Alseri—aka Ronin Selecta in his DJ days—to learn about the label's origin, influences, and future.
Drive Thru is a new skateboard clothing, video, and lifestyle company run by friends Austin Roberts, Ramon Rogelio Fuentes, Kaito Osborn, and Luke Turowski. They are part of the passionate skate community in Washtenaw County, which officially counts Ypsilanti’s DIY skatepark in Prospect Park, the Ann Arbor Skatepark in Veterans Park, and the Olympia Skate Shop, with in both Ann Arbor and Ypsi, as gathering spots.
But skaters love to skate ... anywhere.
That’s the focus of this new skateboard lifestyle collective’s debut short film, also called Drive Thru, which captures skaters grinding and tricking throughout Washtenaw County, with a heavy focus on Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
The 25-minute-long Drive Thru premieres at The Blind Pig on Thursday, August 18, with a screening and performances by Michigan punk bands Dad Caps and My Place or Yours.
We spoke with Drive Thru’s Austin Roberts and Ramon Rogelio Fuentes about their company, the film, and the skating scene in Washtenaw County.
Cece Duran was born and raised in Barcelona, where she is currently spending her summer.
But it's in Ann Arbor where she's building her name as a singer-songwriter under the guise Cece June.
In 2021, June released an EP, Pieces, shot a video for the single "Mine," and played shows at venues in downtown Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan’s annual Springfest.
June is back with a new single, “Over," which she made with friends from U-M. While the sadder side of Spanish folk music courses through June's songs, she also cites England's Radiohead, Ireland's Damien Rice, and America's Bon Iver—no strangers to melancholy melodies—as influences.
We caught up with June to discuss her acoustic-and-electronics single "Over," the influence of fine art on her music, and her future.
Resident Advisor, one of the most important websites covering electronic music, previewed Interdimensional Transmissions' annual No Way Back event as "the kind of party that can change your life if you let it."
Reading that, you might scoff, roll your eyes, and chalk it up as hyperbole.
That is until you go and experience the transformative power of No Way Back yourself, as I did on Sunday, May 26, at Detroit's Tangent Gallery.
No more scoffing.
The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) showed that Friday the 13th doesn’t have to be an unlucky day.
Every second Friday the museum presents a self-described "gathering of art and humans." The May 13 edition of Feel Good Friday featured Detroit- and Ann Arbor-based DJs and artists showcasing experimental film and Detroit techno, along with all the UMMA galleries being open for viewing.
Ann Arbor artists Mark Tucker (FestiFools) and Alvin Hill opened the evening by leading a hands-on workshop to celebrate the opening of FUN, UMMA's latest exhibit, which is in the Stenn gallery facing State Street. It's a space where visitors can contribute to a summer-long creation using materials provided in the gallery.
The up-and-coming Detroit-based DJ AK then took listeners through a musical history of Afrofuturism, spinning ghettotech, dubstep, and deep house in the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Apse. The crowd, whose ages ranged from young to old, all got to dancing, whether it was right in front of the speakers or as they took in the UMMA galleries.
Leaping out of indecision, or into a new love, or over a chicken coop—these were some of the jumps storytellers shared at The Moth’s GrandSLAM championship on May 12 at The Ark in Ann Arbor.
In the first Ann Arbor GrandSLAM since 2019, nine storytellers who were previous winners of the regular StorySLAM events each received five minutes to tell a true personal story, without any notes to guide them. Three groups of judges—naming themselves Quantum, The 229s, and The Bullfrogs—secretly rated each story, not even revealing the scores after a winner was determined. Amir Badghdadchi, a past GrandSLAM winner, was the host and kept the energy high.
With this year's theme being "leaps," the GrandSLAM invited the audience to listen to "stories of springing into action, clearing hurdles, impulsive decisions or concentrating everything they have on a single bound. In short: busting a move."
It doesn’t take a genius—or a grand performance on stage—to reveal how people will do anything for money.
On February 25 and 26, Basement Arts, a U-M student theater organization, gathered at the Newman Studio in the Walgreen Drama Center and performed Friedrich Dürrenmatt's The Visit, which shows how far people will go.
First published in 1956, The Visit tells the tale of millionaire Claire Zachanassian who returns to Güllen, the small town where she grew up. Excited by her visit, the townspeople decide to take this opportunity to better their town and their lives as they’ve fallen on hard times. But Zachanassian has a different plan in mind: In exchange for a one billion dollar donation to Güllen, she wants the townspeople to kill Alfred, the man who she became pregnant with, then jilted her.
Singer-songwriter Allison Russell seeks out what she calls the “hidden canon” of the oral tradition: the songs, stories, lore passed on through time, primarily from and for women. Ann Arbor's The Ark is one of those places where the hidden canon has been voiced frequently for a very long time, and Russell’s concert there on February 25 felt like the perfect place to carry on that tradition.
Sam White, founder of Shakespere in Detroit, guest directed the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance’s recent production of Antigone (February 17-20). She felt the weight of the pandemic while conceiving of the staging and decided that rather than putting on a play written in 441 BCE as some sort of separate escapism from our current world, the two can interact and help one another.