For months, Gainesville's seraphic avant-pop collective Hundred Waters has been flowing in the national music dialogue like a mysterious tide. And their rise is one that's as unlikely as it is strange.
Experimental pop music is so rooted in high artistry and intellectualism that it seldom emerges with such hype and groundswell. Moreover, no one could've anticipated that Hundred Waters' arrival would be trumpeted by none other than Skrillex (born Sonny Moore) – the poster boy of brostep himself, and arguably one of today's least intellectual artists – on whose label (OWSLA) the band just debuted their self-titled LP.
The album passed hands from the band's manager (formerly local music scene mover Mike Feinberg) to Skrillex's manager and then to the star DJ himself. "I guess Sonny was really excited about it and they sort of wanted to expand OWSLA into other areas than EDM," says classically trained frontwoman Nicole Miglis, who graduated from the University of Florida's School of Music with a degree in piano performance. "We were sort of like the guinea pigs for that. ... We were a little unsure at first because we didn't really know. OWSLA was a strange connection for us. But after meeting them and talking with them and becoming good friends with them, we realized it was a really good fit for us."
Hundred Waters is comprised of five Floridians – Miglis, Trayer Tryon, Paul Giese, Zach Tetreault and Sam Moss – who met in Gainesville during college. Each had been involved in various musical projects until they united under friend David Levesque's band Levek, another Gainesville act that recently made a national debut. "Levek was sort of the first project that we all played music together in a band live," Miglis says.
The members who branched out to become Hundred Waters remained creative outside of Levek, Miglis says, and they eventually formed their own band.
"[Levek] started off a side project for us," Miglis says. "We went on that tour and when we got back we sort of went back to what we were doing before that. And I knew that David wanted to work on another album so he took some time off to work on some new material. In that time, we were just sort of making our own music individually. ... But then Tray and I started dating and started making music together and then it just sort of happened unexpectedly that we were all making that album together."
The breakout of Hundred Waters elevates not only Florida music, but the caliber of contemporary music in general. Springing from varied backgrounds ranging from classical to electronic, the sonic world introduced by their album is studied, complex and completely wondrous – like a more balletic and extraterrestrial progression of Stereolab. And, clearly, it's drawn the interest of some influential ears.
"I think a lot of bands, where they're coming from is becoming much less important," Miglis says. "As long as you can put your stuff out there, a lot of people have access to what you create now. We just put our music up on Soundcloud and we passed it around to people we knew and they spread it around to people that they knew and it just sort of naturally happened."
Instead of getting caught up in the whirlwind, however, Hundred Waters remain grounded in their art and craft. "It definitely has opened doors because we're surviving off of making music and traveling," acknowledges Miglis. "But we're just mostly focusing on playing the shows that we're playing on tour and trying to make good music and taking things as they come."
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