Beat-music collective Jaw Gems specialize in creating mesmerizing, electronic soundscapes from the tips of their fingers, bringing otherworldly talent to the shores of north Lake Tahoe this weekend with a show in the Red Room on Saturday, Sept. 30.
In recent years, beat-making has experienced a wildly creative expansion from its hip-hop roots. The groundwork was laid in the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, when producer legends such as J-Dilla, MF DOOM and Madlib were splicing and dicing jazz and soul records over underground beats. Synthesizers and computers are now integral tools in the overwhelming electronic scene, although intertwining these electronic elements with live instrumentation is becoming the standard thanks to producers and artists such as Flying Lotus, Daedelus and Thundercat.
Finding the synergistic soul between the electronic and analog is where Jaw Gems has made its mark. The Portland, Maine, outfit consists of keyboardists Hassan Muhammad and Tyler Quist, drummer DJ Moore and bassist Andrew Scherzer, initially drawn to legends like J Dilla and Madlib and wanting to put his own weird imprint in the scene.
Years of playing together and incorporating elements of jazz, soul, psychedelia, hip-hop and R&B culminated in last year’s standout “HEATWEAVER,” from STS9’s label 1320 Records. It’s an immersive album that sounds like stardust, black lights and an analog synthesizer exploded over a canvas painted in shades of blues.
The album caught so much fire that it will be re-released by Alpha Pup Records on Oct. 13 with an accompanying remix album of each track. The remixes feature flips from T3 (Slum Village), Daedelus, Brady Watt (Talib Kweli/DJ Premier), THE GRID (Jon Cleary Band), Break Science and Russ Liquid Test, among others. For keyboardist Tyler Quist, it was an honor to hear so many peers and friends put their own spin on the Jaw Gems sound. (Listen to GOD>DAMN.CHAN remix “Sap Flow”)
“All of them made me do a double take. It’s exciting to hear what part of the song they use. I never would have thought to do that, but I think (the remix album) is really cool. We met a lot of people on the road and met a bunch of friends. It is good way to get everyone’s name out there, especially with all the press that can surround it, it never hurts. We really appreciate all the time and effort people put into remixing our stuff and we want to help them out as much as they have helped us out. It’s all mutual,” Quist said.
The re-release is all a part of a grander plan to get everyone sucking on Jaw Gems’ sweet, layered beats like an everlasting sonic gobstopper. Alpha Pup will be releasing the band’s newest album, which should be due out sometime in early 2018. When Tahoe Onstage spoke with Quist, the band was in the midst of fine-tuning its shimmery sound in his studio, located inside a barn. There isn’t an album title yet, but when pressed to describe the music and what kind of movie it would hypothetically soundtrack, Quist remarked it would be called “Surviving The Game.”
“There are elements of gospel in there that I wouldn’t have expected if you’d ask me five years ago. Like a gospel-soul vibe, with church organs and stuff. There’s elements of that, but there are spots where it’s still evil sounding and distorted and weird. It turned out kind of how we wanted, I can’t complain on that end,” Quist said.
Jaw Gems also is embarking on their first headlining tour in support of the “HEATWEAVER” re-release and to get the stoke level high for the new album. Quist is ready for the tour and excited to be expanding his musical capabilities and fulfill the potential with the new gear he has at his disposable. The pressure of being on Jaw Gems’ first headlining tour didn’t seem to faze the keyboardist, beyond what every musician craves: new fans.
“The only thing that is changing is I really hope people come out, that’s all (laughs),” Quist said.
For those that who do come out, it’s going to be a hell of an illuminating, sonic experience from one of the most intriguing up-and-coming acts out there.