Musicians used to argue that dance and electronica weren't "real music," but you don't hear that opinion much anymore. Things have changed. Musicians are changing, and every day, another kid sells his guitar for a solid state drive and a synthesizer.
"The technology caught up with us, too, and what we wanted to do," Travis Acker says, one half of bedroomy dance-duo Bedside. Together with trumpeter Trace Barfield, he fuses his background as a rock and roots-music band member into the sounds of the future.
"It's not just about a clip track with all these really raw beats on it," he says. "Now, we can really create music with soul and with a vibe."
Acker and Barfield have been working in music in various capacities as long as they can remember, both as band members, Acker as a marketing agent, and Barfield as a New Orleans street musician. They used to see dance music as something sterile, repetitive, and distant, but they changed their tune with the house and disco revival of recent years.
Billing themselves as having "the precision of a DJ with the excitement of a live band," the guys work tirelessly in the studio composing originals, edits, and remixes for their live sets, then add to the performances with Barfield's live trumpeting.
"We are funky sounds for funky people," Barfield says. "We're trying to make some good music over here, like a lot of people are, and I think we're doing that. We want people to come see it."
Barfield and Acker have worked together in various bands since their college years, but Bedside is their first solo collaboration. They're taking their time with it, making sure to create a project that meets all their goals and ideals. Acker's acumen as a music marketer helps him handle the business side of things, while Barfield focuses on the music. They work together in the studio, Barfield at the helm, and their pasts help keep them focused, honest, and to the point.
"When I'm working on something I can be like 'Hey Travis, does this sound good?' And he's like, 'No,'" Barfield says, no feeling hurts. "I can be like, 'Does this sound good?' And he's like, 'Yeah.' 'Cool.'"
For their upcoming gig at downtown Fort Lauderdale's Stache, the guy's promise a ton of brand-new originals. They've been putting in work on a new EP, in tandem with a soulful vocalist Sahara Smith of local reggae outfit the Resolvers. They're still putting the final touches on that, hoping for a March release, but they did just release a remix of fellow Miami duo Legs Benedict's "Come." You can definitely expect to hear that one in the mix.
"The song itself is just really underground sounding and growling and moving. We said, 'You know what? We need to make this for the dance club," Acker says. "We really turned it into the best dance song that we possible could."
Turning the red light on and the dance vibe up is the Bedside ethos.
"We want to produce music that is sexy and seductive, that is tailored toward women and men, but mostly make sure those ladies are happy," Acker says. "We want to keep people dancing all night; we want to take them on a progression."
Still, the guys have big plans for the future. Their work with Smith, as well as other musicians, is the start to a deeper musical mission.
"We always talk about the art of seduction through music, and we want our sets to be a platform for that," Acker says, "but the real end goal I think is to expose people to all these different cultures, do it in a way that's multimedia and that really touches on the roots but makes it accessible to everyone. Ideally, we want to get more serious about our messaging down the line."
Beyond the music, they're working closely with local visual artists to develop an out of this world light and video show to accompany upcoming live performances. It's Bedside's goal to step the game up, moving toward full original sets and production.
"We are the caterpillar, and we're eating other people's music so that we can put it on our bodies and start our cocoon," Acker says. "Catching us now is a great opportunity to hear something of Bedside that is kind of where we started, but I really see us launching into new directions pretty soon."
For now, they're just gonna hang on the good vibe they've got going.
"You might see some horn playing. You might see some hand percussion. We might bring someone in last minute or flicker some lights we're messing with," Barfield says. "It's going to be fun and you're going to dance your ass off, so come out and see what's up."
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.
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