Hundred Waters grows up

Maturity strikes, even though the Gainesville electro savants are barely two years old

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HUNDRED WATERS with Braids, Kodak to Graph

7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 | The Social, 54 N. Orange Ave. | 407-246-1419 | | $12

Most bands would consider writing the follow-up to a breakthrough debut album without access to instruments a major impediment. But not Gainesville-based electro outfit Hundred Waters, whose dreamy, texturally meticulous debut album of humid avant-folk and dream pop went from understated local release to nationally revered touchstone in 2012.

Given the fact that Nicole Miglis, Zach Tetreault, Trayer Tryon, Paul Giese and Sam Moss had led quiet, college-bound lives before Hundred Waters came out in February 2012, what followed still seems unbelievable: They played their first show a year ago in June. Signed to OWSLA, the label of EDM juggernaut Skrillex, a month later. Toured Canada on a train with electro party-starters Diplo, Pretty Lights and Grimes. Opened for English art-rockers Alt-J and the xx across the U.S. and U.K.

Lesser bands would have surely cracked under the pressure. But, as Hundred Waters told us last month after performing at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Texas, the life-changing trial-by-fire was no biggie – even allowing their next batch of songs to thrive. “Playing that much live means our new music is a lot more upbeat,” says Miglis, who became Hundred Waters’ de facto frontwoman after co-vocalist Moss left the fold. “None of it was written sitting down at a guitar or piano. All that time in the van meant we were writing things in our heads and then translating them onto computers, which was actually really freeing. There was no tactile limitation.”

That’s a total 180 from the structure (but, thankfully, not the sound) of Hundred Waters, which was compiled over the course of a sweltering Gainesville summer in the comfort of the band’s communal home – with no expectation of ever being performed live. “With the new album, those restrictions allowed us to craft things differently and discover more appropriate sounds,” says Tryon, who, with Giese, makes up Hundred Waters’ multi-instrumentalist core. “The lyrics are still ambiguous, but the instruments and melodies have more alien-ness to them. Not having access to many instruments makes the music even more open-ended.”

Hundred Waters recorded the as-yet-untitled sophomore album in Los Angeles this summer. But even after performing over 200 shows in the last 365 days or so, the band wasn’t desperate to plant its feet back on the ground. “After three months in L.A., we had to get out of there,” Giese laughs.

“Standing in one place for too long made it feel like our days were just zooming by.” All four Florida natives say they’re looking forward to being back home for the holidays, although perpetual motion will likely kick in again come spring when the new record comes out. Tetreault suggests the band might spend January and February in the North Carolina mountains, preparing for “going out in the great big world again” in 2014, while Tryon posed a rhetorical question: “I don’t have that feeling in my heart about where home is anymore. Is that sad?”

Geographical vagaries aside, all four members of Hundred Waters exude a quiet confidence rare in a band less than two years old. Giese says he can’t wait to master and then shape-shift new material on stage during their current co-headlining tour with icy Montreal experimentalists Braids, while Tryon predicts more experimentation with sonic space and silence at intimate clubs like the Social after playing 3,000-plus-capacity venues this spring.

Yet it’s Miglis who sums up Hundred Waters’ current maturity best: “When we started, we didn’t really have a sense of what we were doing – going on tour, playing festivals, supporting bands like Alt-J and the xx. But once you know what the lifestyle is all about, you start to care less about the immediate gratification of a crowd cheering to your music and more about the reason why you’re making it. After a while, you discover a sense of self and start to depend on that more.”

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