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Feature Thu Jun 26 2008
Currently, Chicago is home to three of the "hippest" bands in the country. In rock we have The Russian Circles, in hip-hop The Cool Kids, and in dance music we have Walter Meego. Justin Sconza (vox) and Colin Yarck (beats/synthesizers) grew up in Beverly and Park Ridge respectively, and first met while attending the University of Illinois back in 2003. Self-releasing their self-titled debut ep in 2005, they began to gaining national attention through the support of blogs and a growing number of fans.
However, it wasn't until 2007 that things really started to heat up. The band released its second EP, Romantic (Brilliante Records) and blew crowds away at the SXSW festival. In July 2007 they signed a big multi-album deal with Almost Gold Records, a label that has helped the careers of acts like Bjork, The Arcade Fire, and recently Peter, Bjorn & John. The band began working on its first full-length studio album, which was fittingly titled Voyager (released May 27th, Almost Gold Recordings), as it has launched these Chicagoans into a whole new orbit. In last two month, their music has been heard on ABC's Ugly Betty, and been the focal point the latest Heineken beer commercial. Their music is a combination of infectious pop dance beats, live guitar, synths, and unique vocals.
Recently, Colin Yarck of Walter Meego was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Gapers Block: Transmission: You are being billed as dance music from Chicago, but do you think the location of the band plays a role in their musical development or sound? Are there specific sounds or scenes in different cities? Does dance music in Chicago sound different then LA or Detroit?
Colin Yarck: I definitely think wherever we are located at any given time will have an effect on our music. I don't, however, think that wherever that may be will necessarily make us sound like other music from that region. And yea there are specific sounds in different cities. Wherever people are getting together to create will also create like patterns and movements. Although, the speed with which information can now be transferred really shortens the distance between disparate places and scenes.
GB: I read that you guys now live in LA. What prompted that move?
CY: Yea we're in sunny SoCal now. We're born and raised in Chicago. It was just time for a change. We were entertaining the idea of going to various other places and LA is the one we settled on.
GB: Speaking of moving, you seem to be transitioning away from pure dance music into more of a rock hybrid with your live guitar work. Is this a conscious effort on your part to move away from dance music?
CY: It's a conscious effort to pave the way for a future of making whatever we may feel like at the time and not be pigeonholed into one specific genre.
GB: Did you ever think your music would be the sound of a national ad campaign or played during a national broadcast television show? Are there limits to what you are willing to endorse?
CY: No. We didn't imagine anything like that but it seems pretty cool. And yes, there are limits to what we might endorse.
GB: The title "Voyager" represents the launch of your career. Keeping with that theme where would you like the shuttle to land?
CY: I don't think we feel like landing quite yet...
GB: What's next for Walter Meego?
CY: Recording, remixing, pool parties, tanning (not in a booth), recording, the occasional mint julep, and tour in the fall.
Walter Meego's first full-length album, Voyager, is currently out on Almost Gold Recordings.