Noisywaters: Streams of electro-rush

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article by Claire Meyer

photo by Dylan Santos

There must be something in the water. The rate at which Bellingham continues to churn out wildly successful musical acts is staggering with nary a dam in sight. Without exception, Noisywaters is bringing fresh, ethereal tunes to a dance floor near you. Producers and groove-instigators Will Barrett and Benza Maman join the ranks of fellow electronic artists like ODESZA and Manatee Commune to fly Bellingham’s flag in the Northwest’s (and beyond) music scene.

So just how does this city of 85,000ish find its footing with the big-timers like Los Angeles and Seattle? “It’s always kind of mysterious,” Benza said. “I’ve thought about this a lot. On the one side, you have an incredibly supportive and artistic community here. There are just tons of awesome artists along with community recognition of art and people who support it.”

Benza and Will found their start in Bellingham within the last few years, and have incorporated some of its more fundamental characteristics into their music. Noisywaters was borne of the city’s ubiquity of Whatcom, an indigenous word meaning- you guessed it – noisy waters. “Will saw a painting in a gallery called “Noisy Waters,” and thought, ‘Oh, that’s cool!’ He then found out it translates to Whatcom. That’s where we live, and obviously where we live is a huge inspiration for what we do.

Will added, “We feel it’s important to honor [the indigenous peoples’] culture and history by acknowledging where our band’s name came from. We love Bellingham!” Note: the inquiry for alternative band names was met with a detectable forehead slap from Benza: “It was the hardest thing in the world to pick a band name,” he laughed. “We thought of every bad band name in the world you could think of!”

With the release of the band’s latest, The Eclipse EP, Bellingham isn’t the only place on the brain for these guys and their creations. Music reaches beyond the local and into the global scale, adding depth and drama to these tracks. “[We are] very globally concerned. We like to think about a lot of big picture, dramatic, potentially unsolvable issues. We try to – whether successfully or not – put a little piece of that reflection into our music: not always lyrically, sometimes musically.” Such inspiration can be noted in worldly contributions like the flamenco guitar and harp in their diversified sound.

“It’s important for everybody to remember that we are all sort of part of the same thing.” On the other hand, Will said, inspiration lies in the abstract: “More than anything, I would say my inspiration comes from what I don’t yet have – what I haven’t yet achieved, or what I have yet to create.” Touching upon the more colloquial influences, Benza mentioned they are inspired by “relationships and friendships and other experiences life has to offer.”

It’s not hard to see that Noisywaters has been busy making friends as of late. The pair is set to launch a unique, inaugural meeting of minds known as Project Red Thread. The inception for the project is based off of a Chinese proverb where “an invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place, or circumstance.” The band is in the process of setting up a showcase of 12 collaborative musical acts of varying styles, where event-goers can expect to see crossovers from bluegrass to electronic, and even an appearance from the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra. Visual and video creations will accompany the collaborations both online and at the event, detailing the process of the musical extravaganza. “There’s so much musical talent here in Bellingham. We wanted to find a way to work together on something, and the reach of everyone together – all other badass acts in town combined with ours – would be huge!”

The event seems like just the thing a place like Bellingham has been incubating for quite some time. After a courting period, the other artists were finally on board, and Benza and Will had to crank their efforts into high gear. “In what felt like one week, suddenly people were responding and things were moving forward and other people wanted to help us organize this. We got some huge help on the administrative side. People just showed up and said, ‘This is great! I want to be a part of it,’ and suddenly we had to go from just talking about this to actually doing it.” As with the universal language of their music, Noisywaters welcomed the enthusiasm with open arms. “We thought, ‘Oh no! We just do not have the time for all of this now!’ But when the universe is open to something like this, it just seemed like it was totally possible to do, and you can’t turn that down.” Project Red Thread, in partnership with the City of Bellingham, will christen the opening of the city’s long-awaited waterfront development on Sept.  15. More information can be found at projectredthread.com.

You may just catch Noisywaters living their best Bellingham lives traipsing around Chuckanut or swimming with the bioluminescence. More likely, they can be found in the studio, preparing to reward your ears with some undeniably cool beats. “We aim to play as much of our music live as possible, sort of the antithesis of a DJ set,” Will said. “Make sure to catch us live if you can – that’s where we really shine!”

All water puns aside, that’s a flow we can really get behind. Check them out @wenoisywaters on social media.