BY TARA McCARTHY
Crouched over a spread of sound equipment, Galen Ashley meticulously crafts a bass line.
Daniel Ashley breaks into a rhythmic delivery of lyrics, while Lauren Tuck quietly hums a melody, scribbling down words to remember.
Like pieces of a fine-tuned puzzle, each effort layers then bursts into a swell of energy in the tiny basement.
Under their pseudonym, Root Sellers, the Ashley Brothers have only nicked the surface on the goal to broaden their sound with even more imaginative layers.
And the next step comes May 17 at the Yukon Arts Centre in an On The Wing showcase of creative and cultural fusion, featuring Juno-award winner Kofi Ackah from African Guitar Summit.
“Part of what we plan to do is to travel around the world and do sessions similar to this where you go, you meet someone, you jam with them for a couple of days, you record it and hopefully come away with something that you want to keep sharing,” Galen explains.
This Whitehorse performance begins their inventive journey called, Dig The Planet. The concept spontaneously pairs the Root Sellers duo with a plethora of artists across the world to juxtapose sound, influence and passion into unique collaborations.
Ackah, along with Vancouver-based visual artist Pouriya Khalili, marks their first artistic assault. Getting together only a week prior to the show, they’ve created much of its material on pure impulse.
“I think the key with spontaneity is that it gives you a lot of energy and a lot of things that enable you to reach this whole other level that you can’t have when things are overly rehearsed,” Daniel says.
“But in that breath, it’s a lot harder to be consistent with spontaneity sometimes.”
Unlike their usual deejay appearances, Galen says this improvisation performance method pushes their rhythmic sensibilities.
“A lot of the time we’ll perform DJ sets, play a lot of recorded music and supplement it with live music,” he says. “But this show is all the performance stuff right out front with integrated collaborators and very focused on art and magic.”
Brave New Works is presenting the performance and, as artistic director for the emerging artist group, Tuck says it’s a perfect fit.
“This past season we’ve done things a bit differently and that ties in nicely to what the Root Sellers are doing,” she explains. “They see what’s being done and they’re taking what’s not being done and they’re doing it all.”
Tuck is also a vocal collaborator in the show. And while she’s been met with artistic challenges, she says it’s heightened their creative chemistry.
“We all have a common goal here and it’s to work together, to make music.”
Playing on home turf showcases that collaborative ambition.
“This show is conducive to people being open to receive this very integrated music that’s not any one particular thing,” Daniel explains.
“Our world, our life, our community is never one thing, it’s a combination of a lot of different things working together.”
Dig The Planet hits the Yukon Arts Centre stage on May 17. tickets are available at Arts Underground and the YAC Box Office. There will also be a sneak peek show on May 16 at Coasters.
PHOTO: MORGAN WHIBLEY [email protected]