Arbour: Heavy lo-fi electronic

by KEENAN KETZNER

The area where an artist grows up can have a significant effect on their attitude, and in turn, their artistry if they make it. Washington in particular has had an historically important impact on the heavy dose of hazy angst and coffee-stained feelings in American music, and Arbour’s sound certainly captures its residual effects.

Arbour is both the side project and main project of one Hans Wankins, a currently graduating student of Western Washington University. When Hans was younger, he stood out from his peers with his interest in composition. While trained in guitar and voice, in his teens he started anew in the digital realm of music. During the day he played in school band and choir, and later at home he was developing a world of his own under no specific alias.

“I think my music really reflects like, walking through the woods on a damp day. Especially the woods at school, where the name Arbour -as in arboretum- comes from.”

With this sonic backdrop, and inspiration from artists like Bon Iver and James Blake, Hans reflects on the effect nature and technology can have together, creating unique beats that echo these unreal atmospheres. You can hear the sound of field recording in some tracks, and you’ll also notice Arbor has a heavy lo-fi, bedroom electronic aesthetic on some tracks, further representing that dank, dim feeling of the Pacific Northwest.

For many years Hans used this outlet to explore these emotions further, taking all new twists and turns when a new sound caught his interest. Sometimes hip-hop would come in as a flavor, or more and less organic instrumentation. As time has gone on, Hans has begin to add more and more lyrics to his Arbour repertoire. This started a development in his music which took him from playing shows where he just DJ’d his own music, to being able to bring in his own personality to the audience and help connect with the live experience.

Remarking on how he liked DJing, hans also found that sometimes it came with a level of trouble. “I was doing a DJ set at a friend’s house show, and suddenly this guy- some entry level rapper- comes up to my gear and grabs the mic and starts freestyling over my set. He went on for awhile before realizing his friends and no one at the party was feeling it and left.”

Thus bringing Hans to trying out the band game. He and his roommates have been developing the sound behind a new group known as Club Mage, which goes in a more indie rock style, while maintaining it’s own sense of musical haziness. Hans notes that this has made live performance a much more interactive and engaging activity, reinvigorating him for his upcoming releases. Hans says that Arbour and Club Mage will be coming out with new releases in the very near future, where he will be expanding his sound palette even further and giving more lyrical content to chew on for excited listeners.

For more information about Arbour, check out rburr.bandcamp.com. 

Published in the December 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine