Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009

04/04/2017

Stereo RV: "Human" / Video DEBUT

Beat box and a great voice combine. Album release at Secret Society on Friday, April 8.

We are told: 

"In the video for "Human" we wanted to portray real people being honest about what makes them, them. We wanted to portray their triumphs; understand what influences them and how they identify their humanity.  The song is about all the traumas and victories that tie us together. The experiences that ultimately identify who we are or who we're trying to be." – MYRA

Myra Gleason, Stereo RV's lead singer, has one of the most powerfully expressive voices you've ever heard. Her fervent vocals, backed by the guitar and extraordinary beat boxing abilities of her husband, Gabe, make the vulnerable songs on Human, their debut EP, an overwhelming experience. The tracks are flooded with the joys and sorrows of everyday life, given wing by the record's vibrant production and melodies that will haunt you, even after a single listen.

The duo has been thrilling audiences in their hometown of Portland since they began performing together six years ago. Myra's singing and Gabe's ability to mimic the sound of a full drum kit, make every live performance an other-worldly event. "When we play live, people keep looking behind us for the drummer," Gabe says. "I'm a very technical and precise beat boxer. I pride myself on being able to provide any sound a percussionist can make."

The songs on Human, the duo's debut EP, developed slowly, coming together through trial and error over the course of two years of experimentation in the RV the couple calls home. The touching melodies and Myra's true to life lyrics, inspired in part by her work with children in the foster care system, give the songs an emotional depth that's often missing in pop music. "We brought together several stories of kids and adults we've known, people that are struggling with life's mysteries," Myra says. "That's why we chose 'Human' as the title track. The songs describe the traumas and victories that tie us together, the experiences that ultimately identify who we are, or who we're trying to be."

John DeGrazio and Stan Chan produced the record at Watersound Studio. They remixed and re-mastered three tunes the duo had made on their own ? "Free," "Runaways" and "Who Am I?" They also produced, arranged and played all the instruments on two new ballads - "The One" and "Human" - creating potent, radio ready, backing tracks for them. All the percussion on the album is provided by Gabe's beat boxing, mixed and processed in the studio to add depth to his vocal prestidigitation.

"Human," the dramatic title track, opens the album on an optimistic note, even as it describes the often-troubling realities of everyday life. Myra's riveting vocal blends equal measures of hope and anguish, backed by DeGrazio's minimal piano, a thumping synth bass and Gabe's vocal percussion accents. Myra faces down the howling winds of uncertainty on "The One," a hopeful anthem with the soulful, uplifting quality of the best gospel music. Her vocal soars to deliver a message of undying faith.

Gabe adds his brittle acoustic guitar rhythms and sings harmony on "Who Am I?" Myra's heartfelt vocal gives us an unsettling glimpse of a soul wandering through the wilderness of self-doubt. The sparse rhythm track intensifies the pleading melancholy of the lyrics. "Runaways" and "Free" show off the duo's playful side, with rowdy, carefree, dance friendly cadences. "Our live shows are upbeat and energetic," Myra says. "We like to challenge people and make them think, but we want them to have fun too."

Gabe and Myra met at a Portland singing competition. "I was impressed by Gabe's vocal percussion abilities," Myra says. "When I asked him if he'd like to add his beat boxing to a couple of the demos I was working on, he said, 'Yes.' After a few practice sessions, we did a show together and everything clicked. We started a songwriting collaboration and developed feelings for one another that made the songs, and our lives, more intense."

Gabe's love of music was inspired by his great grandfather's collection of jazz albums, in particular the fluid technique of Bobby McFerrin's scat singing. He started playing the upright bass and joined his high school jazz band at when he was 12, constantly experimenting with ways to vocally reproduce the sounds of the orchestra. At the same time, he picked up guitar and started writing songs, providing his own rhythm accompaniment.

Myra has been singing for as long as she can remember, but she was planning to be an actress until she had a musical epiphany on her way home from her job at Disney World. "I was singing and walking to a bus stop when I heard a co-worker say, 'Dang girl, you can blow.' I suddenly knew I was meant to be a singer. I went home and started writing songs. I met Gabe right after I moved back to Portland to start performing."

The duo eventually married and moved into an RV and began honing the sound that makes Human so compelling. "We want to give a voice to those whose voices aren't always listened to, especially kids facing difficult times," Myra says. "Gabe and I are constantly exploring ways to make our live shows more emotionally honest and engaging."

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