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Arts and Entertainment Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 5 years ago

Existential Hive Mind Blues: Inside the quirky, brilliant mind of Joe Seul

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by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

It’s hard to explain exactly what it is that RaeF does. It’s accurate to say, however, that it involves lasers, animated .gifs and is heavily fueled by Diet Mountain Dew. In his bedroom, Joe Seul polishes off another liter of his beverage of choice and lets out a bit of a sigh as he begins to explain his latest RaeF project, Existential Hive Mind Blues.

“At this point,” he says,” There’s almost more to explain than I ever could.”

The project was a collaborative effort between Seul and 16 other local musicians, and it amounts to what’s essentially a triple album — 30 songs, clocking in at about three hours of material, which is accompanied throughout its duration by animated gifs and lasers.

If it sounds like a lofty endeavor, it’s because it is. Seul laid down the basic beats to all the tracks and then invited musicians to add layers of instruments, including guitar, bass, drums, horns, obo, cello and countless others.

“I had no control the entire time,” he says. “The idea was for me to become as much of a sail as possible and just let the project take its own course.”

The beauty of Existential Hive Mind Blues, he explains, is its flexibility. With the already mastered tracks at his disposal, he now has a far-reaching arsenal of music to perform live, and he can cater each set to the audience, based on their tastes.

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“It’s 30 songs that, depending on my frame of mind, or the audience, I can bring any sort of personality into,” he says. “I can make it come out sounding very organic, or I can make it come out sounding very ravey and crazy. If I wanted to perform a version of this album that my grandmother could enjoy, I could do that, too.”

He plans to debut the material live in his secretive warehouse space Friday, Dec. 27 and Saturday, Dec. 28. The show will feature the trademark RaeF accessories — lasers, fog, etc., but with the animated gifs and visuals accompanying it, Seul says he’s placing more importance on producing something that can be experienced across multiple senses.

“It’s difficult for me to not visualize when I hear good music,” he says. “If I can’t put something in a room that’s more interesting than what people can find at any given time on their cell phone screens, then I should just put a curtain over everything and play under it. It’s almost irresponsible of me to not take advantage of every wavelength — and that includes visuals. That’s what makes it more than just a rock band.”

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