ADDverse Effects, a new collective based out of Norman, offers something fresh to the growing hip-hop scene in Oklahoma.
Drummer Boyd Littel came up with the idea after a last-second gig he played with vocalist Joshua “Fiji” Rehanek and a couple other musicians. With that show’s success, he recruited the current lineup, and the band officially formed in August, with John Calvin on guitar, Benja Farber on bass and Michael Stafford on keys.
“I’m sitting on tons of hip-hop instrumentals in my brain, that either have never gotten used or have barely gotten used at all,” Littel said. “And Fiji’s sitting on tons of lyrics that he’s never been able to use, so we knew we just needed to put the two together.”
ADDverse Effects has continued to develop its sound through live shows and rehearsals.
“I feel like we have mostly what is a Top 40 or popular hip-hop sound of the early and mid-’90s,” Littel said. “And then we have a little more of what’s just kind of fairly underground hip-hop.”
The group’s self-described “merry pranksters” make a strong effort to make its music sound like hip-hop originally sounded, by mimicking the samples and loops of the old-school method, and including elements from other genres, like jazz, funk, disco and even classical.
“Boyd is pretty specific in the way we play as a band,” Stafford said. “We play it as if we’re imitating hip-hop music.”
Littel said he hopes ADDverse Effects can achieve the quality of sound that listeners can hear from a recorded product.
“People see us and they can see that it’s all live instruments,” he said, “but if they close their eyes and just listen to it, it does sound like a record.”
Each member agreed that live instrumentation adds a lot of energy to hip-hop.
“The crowd can feel it when there’s five guys pouring it out onstage,” Rehanek said.
Furthermore are the advantages that live bands carry over a DJ playing tracks.
“A track has no feeling; it can’t feel the crowd out,” Farber said. “As real people, we can kind of gauge the audience.”
While instrumentation is important to the band, Rehanek and Littel don’t skip steps when it comes to their vocals, either, doing their best to drop positive, thought-provoking rhymes.
“All the music’s pretty uplifting. It’s all positive for the most part,” Rehanek said. “If it’s not positive, it’s very lyrically and socially conscious. We try to make it easy to relate to.”
The band is in the process of putting together its first album, but for now, the focus is on playing shows, such as Saturday’s show at Opolis. Above all, ADDverse Effects desires to maintain a high level of musical integrity.
“We’re just trying to challenge people to make better music,” Rehanek said.
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