By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
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By Emily Weiss
Call it the musical equivalent of Xerox art, or just rock 'n' roll in the age of the screen saver. But the aural content-providers moving in and out of the Future Perfect scene may be the next wave in local music. "I've played in all sorts of scenes," says Shapiro. "Punk, alternative rock, free jazz, classical, you name it. And electronic music is the most supportive and noncompetitive scene. People are as excited to hear you as they are to play for you."
In this environment, Ousia's members will continue their various side projects, and Shapiro plans to make a go of it full time, something Chris Strouth says most cybercomposers never do. "You can make infinitely more as a computer programmer than as a techno guy," Strouth says. "It's different than the average rock band in that these guys are smart and have options. They're not gonna throw that away."
Strouth emphasizes other obstacles: Where nearly every guitar noodler can land on a stage, venues for electro nerds remain harder to find. Strouth has experienced resistance from club bookers firsthand. "Clubs absolutely hate having electronic music," he says. "The sound guys are always really bad, and inevitably blast Skynyrd after the show's over just to piss you off."
Granted, not everything the Star Wars generation is composing in its bedroom studios will be the next Let It Be (or even the next Let It Bleep). But Strouth's event and others like it do encourage people who normally wouldn't perform to give it a go. "The way I kind of approach Future Perfect is as a sound system," he says. "It gets people together and drags them out."
In this spirit, Strouth introduced Shapiro to Ana Voog, perhaps the Cities' most distinct bedroom artist, who last year turned her everyday routine into a work of Net performance art. Voog (a.k.a. Rachael Olson) was perhaps best known as singer/guitarist for the Blue Up?, until she placed digital cameras around her apartment and began uploading images every two minutes on her Web site, www.anacam.com. When the Anacam caught her in "the act" with an old flame last November, she became the stuff of Web legend--an odd circumstance for a self-described introvert who professes to hate parties.
The site itself has the tone of a personal fanzine, but without the typical six-month delay time. Check out this passage from her May 12 ANAlog: "On a sad note, my boyfriend Siam's incredible ambient band broke up today. They were called Ousia and they were my fave local band... Siam is being interviewed tomorrow by the local paper called City Pages. They are interviewing him about the future of electronic music."
Shapiro, or "Siam" (his old Web handle), first spoke to Voog in her online chat room before meeting her in person after last November's Future Perfect show. Their kindred spirits soon clicked: "We both have an obsession with the early-'80s New Romantic era," Shapiro says. Shapiro and Ousia's Dave Onnen agreed to back up Voog live, in support of her crisp new electro-pop album (handily titled anavoog.com and produced by Bobby Z, ex of Prince and the Revolution).
True to reclusive Voog form, her late-April debut gig was, well, nationally televised: In what must be local music's TV Moment of the Year, the rhinestone-decorated diva rendered her new-wavey tune "Please God" with the assurance of a vet on Vibe. Somehow, she slipped an unbleeped "fuck me" past the censors, and host Sinbad, for his part, repeatedly brought up the notorious Anacam tryst. Thus Voog's private world found its widest audience ever.
"My heart was beating like a crazy rabbit during the song," she tells me weeks later. "After it was done, I was just happy I hadn't thrown up or hit the microphone." Still, Voog found her May 7 homecoming gig at Ground Zero just as daunting. "I was more scared for that show than Vibe. I didn't really want to play in this town yet 'cause I was too shy." Fresh from a headlining concert in Las Vegas last week, Voog and Shapiro will take a break to perform ambient music at Future Perfect under the name Purrotika.
Though Voog would seem a perfect heroine for the rec-room wave of electro, November's Future Perfect was her first exposure to the scene. But that and the New Atlantis cabarets have made her a convert. "All these people who usually just kind of sit around and twiddle around with ham radios, all of a sudden they came out of their houses," she says. "They were the same as me because I never leave my house either. I said, 'I've been looking for all you guys forever.' I was just so happy to find this strange little community of musicians." CP
Future Perfect Sound System starts at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Weisman Art Museum; call 625-9495.