Electric Junkyard Gamelan is the brainchild of director, composer and instrument builder Terry Dame. Performing her original groove-driven music on self-invented instruments this unique band has a distinct voice that is at once both old and new. EJG has performed in at venues ranging from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to elementary schools in Iowa, arts centers large and small to music festivals, underground raves and even a wedding.
Originally inspired by the interlocking rhythms of traditional Gamelan music from Bali, today the group's music is influenced by a diverse range of sounds from eastern modal music to funk, klezmer to hip-hop. They perform on Dame's innovative instruments such as the Rubarp and Big Barp (electric rubber band harps), the Sitello (an electric cello/sitar combo), the Terraphone (copper pipe horn), the Clayrimba (a three octave tuned clay pot "marimba") and an arsenal of percussion instruments fashioned from old farm equipment, turntable platters, saw blades, and truck springs. The result is a super original sound with lilting modal melodies, syncopated strings, funky bass lines and layers of dance-able interlocking rhythms that ride over clashes of metal on metal and colorful harmonic washes. Audiences are transfixed by the beauty and strangeness of the unusual collection of instruments on stage and the amazing array of sounds they produce.
Here's a little of what the critics say:
"transporting...beautiful and inspired sounds" - --Village Voice
"Electric Junkyard Gamelan makes music that is the product of a highly personal vision, and Dame's originality is alone enough reason to come check out the Big Barp in person". --James Heflin, Valley Advocate-Northampton, MA
"Terry Dame is one of those eccentric musicians for whom composing isn't enough, she has to create new instruments as well. A downtown fixture." --Time Out New York
"What is immediately fascinating about the audiovisual sensation that is Electric Junkyard Gamelan is their use of invented instruments - the instruments resurrect the spirits of a land that is, for them, far, far away." --Morgan Harrington, The Jakarta Post
"Dame has created a panopoly of homemade instruments that are not only visually fascinating but sonically stunning." -- Iris Hiskey Arno, The Rivertowns Enterprise-Davenport, IA
The musicians in EJG hail from diverse musical backgrounds. Dame, a saxophonist and composer by training has studied music from around the world including Indonesia, the Middle East, the Balkans and India. She has been living and working in New York City since 1985, composing and performing for film, video, theater, dance, and concerts. She was the composer and saxophonist with her seven piece global beat jazz group Monkey on a Rail from 1998-2002 and a founding member of the improvisation trio Trophy Wife. She was composer in residence and saxophonist with Jennifer Miller's New York based Circus Amok from 1994-2004 . Ms. Dame is also a member of Gamelan Dharma Swara, the traditional Balinese Gamelan based at the Indonesian Consulate in New York City and Paprika, Brooklyn's acclaimed all-female international dance music band. Dame also currently plays saxophone with Dawn Drake's Zapote and Julz A's Squeeze Rock. She was selected to be a 2006 Sundance Institute Composer Lab Fellow and was an artist in residence at HERE Art Center in New York City during 2003 & 2004. Dame has received commissioning funds from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, The Rockefeller Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts and the Meet the Composer Fund. She holds a MFA in Composition and Performance from the California Institute of the Arts.
She met Julian Hintz aka Julz A, a singer, hip-hop accordionist and classically trained percussionist while in grad school at Cal Arts. Julz fronts his own band Squeeze Rock. Mary Feaster, Lee Frisari and Dame met while playing together in the Circus Amok Band. Feaster, also half of the duo Vivamaria and long time member of the Velvet Mafia is a bassist that plays everything from punk to funk, Latin to Klezmer. Frisari is a classically trained percussionist and punk rock drummer. She is also a founding member and drummer with the gender bender punk band Inner Princess.
EJG has been performing together since 1998. They released their self-titled debut in 2002. Their live album "Live from HERE" was released in January 2007. Their new record "Life On Marz" is scheduled to be released in 2009. Past venues include Museum of Modern Art in NYC, The Walker Art Center, The Kitchen, Amazing Things Art Center, Real Art Ways, Creative Alliance, Baltimore, Pioneer Arts Center of Easthampton, One Longfellow Square, Sage Street Mill at Vermont Arts Exchange, Flying Monkey Art Center, TSL and the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival. New York City venues include Zebulon, Barbes, The Stone, The Knitting Factory, Galapagos, CBGBs, Dixon Place and PS122 to name a few.
If you still aren't convinced here's more from the critics.
"Electric Junkyard Gamelan makes music so original they had to invent their own instruments to play it. It's wild enough to please fans...regardless of genre." --Global Rhythms Magazine
"...rhythmic, near-hypnotic music." --HX Magazine
" a scattered mix of foreign music that mixes jangling and banging with worldly sounds. The EJG definitely knows what it--s playing. It never feels disjointed or awkward, but always feels out of this world; at times natural, earthy..." --Michael Levy, New Haven Advocate
"...powerful, mesmerizing and ever changing." --Ellie Covan, Founder/Director of Dixon Place, NYC