Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, March 23, 2001

Portrait of a groovy band. From left are Quadraphonix's
Jonathan Heraux, Susan Copp, Eli Clemens
and Shree Sadagopan.

In the groove

Ho'olaule'a takes
a jazz/funk spin

By Gary C.W. Chun

IF not for the help of a well-connected friend on the mainland, the local band Quadraphonix would have to have been satisfied with their debut CD being a low-budget, locally-recorded affair. Instead they'll be releasing music they recorded in, of all places, Nashville, Tenn.

Specifically, Bellmont University, located in country music's industry town, and according to drummer Jonathan Heraux, "the biggest music production university in the U.S."

Quadraphonix's jazz-tinged, hip-hop groove will be in full effect at Chaminade's first-ever ho'olaule'a tomorrow night. Event promoter and president of the university's music club David Wei is proud of the lineup's diversity, which also includes reggae acts Ooklah the Moc and DJ Big Bar, funk-punksters Lose Money, just punksters Hellbound Hounds, hip-hoppers Microscopic Syllables and Scottie Soul spinning house dance tracks.

Over the band's year-and-a-half lifespan, Quadraphonix has distinguished itself from the rest of the local underground music scene with its sophisticated "fusion of jazz, Latin, hip-hop and funk" said Heraux.

"We all sound the way our musical backgrounds are," said double bassist Susan Copp. "I come from a classical background with now a jazz influence, Jonathan is jazz-based with a rhythm-and-funk background, (guitarist) Shree Sadagopan is an ethnic Indian from Malaysia who brings those musical influences ..."

"Along with a Latin feel from Carlos Santana," Heraux added, "and Eli Clemens has that Afro-Cuban training on the congas." (The band's featured rapper, MC Kilowatts Mongoose, who Heraux credits as "a great dancer and performer," didn't make the trip, so his vocals were recorded here).

Not only has the band's sound evolved over the years, but, according to Heraux, it's developed over long-term relationships with the other members. "Susan and I started in a band called the Triads seven years ago, Eli and I played in a band called Fungus five years ago and Shree and I go back 10 years when we both played in the Leeward Community College Jazz Ensemble. So, from the Triads, we've become Quadraphonix."

There's more of a spontaneous feel to the band's live performances, something the quartet hoped would translate in studio recordings the band originally cut here. But thanks to Heraux's friend who attends Bellmont U., Quadraphonix found themselves in Nashville in late February.

"The university's got the best recording facilities I've ever seen," Heraux said. "And that's coming from someone who's a recording engineer! A friend of mine who goes to school there gave our CD to a professor who teaches there. He listened to it and liked it so much that he asked him, 'why not invite the band down here to record?'

"All of the recording time was free -- the only thing we had to pay for was airfare. This was actually my friend's project for his senior thesis. We were there for close to a week," he said.

The group didn't do much sightseeing there, although Copp said she was dumbfounded when she spotted a Hilo Hattie's shop in the Music City (the 10-gallon hat/ aloha shirt fashion statement??). But the former Kamehameha grad said the band maintained its organic groove by laying down live takes of their now-rerecorded CD.

With a working title of "Just A Reminder Note," Heraux said that the CD should come out in a month after the Nashville-recorded tracks get mixed down by local engineer Reid Scelza. Copp said she hopes tunes like "Psychedelic Jazz" ("my personal favorite," she said) and "Cobra" (based on a 2000-year-old snake charmer rhythm), will help sell the CD.

Heraux and Copp agreed on the band's emphasis on playing original material. Copp said that the closest they've come to covering someone else's music is their interpretation of Dave Brubeck's famous opening piano line on "Take Five," transposed to her bass line and then giving Brubeck his props by titling it "Took Five."

Quadraphonix's most visible gig (before tomorrow's) was opening for the Black Eyed Peas on the Maui and Honolulu gigs last year, although the band has done the brief tour-by-van around California, specifically San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

"In San Francisco, we went from one extreme to the next in the kind of gigs played on the same day," Heraux said. We first played in what could be described as a ghetto to a five-star restaurant later in the day. And basically all we did was alter the groove a bit for the restaurant, softer and smoother than what we played earlier."

Heraux and Copp are proud to be choosy in their choice of gigs, usually eschewing having to play what is usually background music for pickup lines in a couple of Honolulu's clubs with a "meat market" reputation. "No one in the band is gigging solely for the money -- we're not going to just stand there and play music that's going to be ignored," Heroux said.

"To be in this band, everybody's gotta write," he said. Where some of the band's material could start off as simple jam tunes, all of the band members' songwriting comes from their experiences. "For example, Shree came back from his homecoming in Malaysia with two new songs."

Both Heraux and Copp support themselves with outside jobs, he as a recording engineer and soundman (he'll be mixing the sound at the ho'olaule'a) and she as a front office outlet manager. One of Heraux's functions also seems to be musical benefactor, getting instruments to Sadagopan and Copp.

Copp, classically trained on the double bass, got her instrument when Heraux paid around $700 at a local swap meet. "I think it was once owned by some grandma who regularly played Hawaiian music," Copp said, "so I'm sure it had some mana in it!"

Ho'olaule'a 'O Mauka

Featuring: Quadraphonix, Ooklah the Moc, Lose Money, Microscopic Syllables, Hellbound Hounds, DJ Big Bar & Scottie Soul
In concert: 7 p.m. to midnight tomorrow
Place: Henry Hall courtyard, Chaminade University, 3140 Waialae Ave.
Call: 277-8840
Cost: $6, all ages welcome; free campus parking that night

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