Artist Spotlight: Honeymooners, Blue Unit

Blue Unit.

Experimental artist Honeymooners, Twin Cities psychedelic rockers Cult of Lip, and shoegaze/noise-pop band Blue Unit played High Dive Friday night. Cult of Lip and Blue Unit played Madison together the prior night.

Honeymooners is Eli Smith, who also plays a separate project under his real name. He unfortunately had a cold so his voice was strained but he pulled through and played four songs – two new, two old.

“I have a terrible cold and my throat is dying right now,” Smith said. “The first two songs were totally new…I wrote them this week and finished writing them today. I’ve mostly been focusing on more abstract experimental stuff without song structures or vocals, so I kinda tried to jump into this project after awhile of not really doing it. These songs are very much informed by my experience with tape collages and freely improvising…you know, trying to integrate more experimental outlook into writing songs.”

His most recent album under Honeymooners is 2017’s “Nowhere.” Smith works with tape loops, field recordings, and samples in both projects although Honeymooners is more song structure-based.

“Playing under my own name I’ve tried to not have many inhibitions regarding the form music takes and relying less on structured songs, experimenting with other forms…I put out a tape a couple months ago under my name that was just instrumental guitar. With Honeymooners I’m a little more conscious of trying to structure things, and even if I’m still doing sound experiments, the context still ends up being songs. It’s an interesting challenge both ways to have a lot of freedom and to create within limitations.”

Eli Smith’s tape under his own name is “Generation / Moon Inside” which is available on Bandcamp.

Blue Unit consists of vocalist/bassist Jenifer Dixon, keyboardist/vocalist Kevin Dixon, drummer Brock Gourlie, and guitarist Drew Calvetti. The band formed as a side project from the long-running shoegaze band Brief Candles.

“Brief Candles’ drummer had to move to Colorado a few years back so we’re still a band and we practice online with him and he flies out for tours, but in order to keep playing out live and trade shows with friends we just switched instruments and our friend Brock plays drums with us,” Jenifer said.

Their debut self-titled EP came out just a few months ago. They also played a Stereolab cover, “John Cage Bubblegum.”

“Kevin (our keyboard player) has a studio in our basement and he records a lot of bands there, and it just feels like practice being down there. We track it individually and it’s pretty easy. Being a side project, Kevin and I having a kid, and all having full-time jobs…these songs are a very short amount of what we’ve put together. We had another one we were gonna play tonight but it didn’t feel ready yet.”

Blue Unit has a few more songs that might get recorded by the end of the year, while Brief Candles has recording to do as well. Blue Unit plays “Kalamashoegazer” in Kalamazoo, MI this weekend and plays Riverwest Public House on October 20th.

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