Long-distance friends overcome state lines and genre boundaries in debut EP

The self-titled EP, Memory Bank, is expected to feature spoken-word poetry and other forms of unconventional sounds

Two friends, separated by over 900 miles, create progressive house music together with text messaging as their main form of communication. 

ASU student Elias Hardt and his long-time friend Atticus Hamilton found a way to bridge the gap of physical distance by creating music together under the name Memory Bank. Their self-titled first EP will be released on April 19 on Bandcamp, and the duo plans to make it available on both Apple Music and Spotify the following week. 

Hardt, a freshman studying environmental design in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, is the band's producer and designer. Hamilton, a freshman at Colorado State University studying medical microbiology, is the band's bassist and pad man. 

The two are natives of Alaska, where they first became friends in high school, Hardt said. 

Hardt and Hamilton said they've been interested in music since they were young, starting to make music together during their sophomore year of high school. Now, despite the distance, the two friends still collaborated on music, communicating through text messaging and sharing music files back and forth, Hardt said.

Memory Bank said that their musical tastes span multiple genres, with groups like Rush, Aphex Twin, Haywyre and Chroma Key serving as some of their influences.

Their sound is heavily influenced the the progressive house genre, sometimes referred to as prog house for short, Hardt said.

He said that what he likes about prog house music is that it is "really about taking the listener to a different place from when the song starts to when the song ends."

Samuel Peña, an instructor and community engagement coordinator in the School of Music, said that the progressive house genre is a subcategory of house music that originated as an underground movement in Europe. 

While house music has grown and changed significantly over the years, Peña said the progressive label usually indicates the addition of multiple layers of music to create songs that grow dynamically and take listeners on a journey. 

"There's room for experimentation because it's not so locked into a specific format," Peña said. "It's kind of a reaction against the format, and then it's kind of pushing the boundaries."

The duo said they hope that people will enjoy the diverse sounds as well as the story within their new music.

Hamilton said storytelling has always been important to their work. 

"We can figure out that way how to blend one song into the other and have actual meaning behind behind our music," Hamilton said. "So I think that's really exciting."

Hardt said he wanted to use his background in screenwriting to create a coherent story on the EP, and the EP's story is told through both lyrics, field recordings and spoken-word poetry. The use of unconventional sounds is something that the two musicians said they previously enjoyed working with on solo projects and are excited to bring in a similar fashion to their EP.

"I think it can be a very powerful thing to do in music because it adds another level to the piece of music that you're writing," Hamilton said.

Hardt has used snippets from public radio segments in his own music, and Hamilton has incorporated original recordings from the Apollo missions and nineties analog synthesizers into his tracks. 

"Being able to take something that doesn't normally sound musical, like something over the radio or a soundbite and all of a sudden we use it in a completely different way, that's really important," Hamilton said. "Especially for the music that we make."

Reach the reporter at mswhitey@asu.edu or follow @MarissaWhitey on Twitter. 

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