usa | Label: Anticon

Upcoming shows

Click here to see past shows...

If it wasn’t for Theo Huxtable, Brendon Whitney might still be living the woods of Southern Maine. Raised by a church organist/hobby store clerk and a fire-fighting jazz drummer on six acres of land in rural Hollis, little Bren never had cable television. Naturally, when the MTV receptors started flaring up in his 13-year-old brain, something had to be done. With only three general stores in town, the musical pickings were slim, so Bren and big sis Aubrey would stay up combing their five TV channels for some sort of sign. And that was when they found Theo, hosting NBC’s now defunct Friday Night Videos. Specifically, it was the video for Special Ed’s “I’m the Magnificent” that did it. A 16-year-old rapping about owning 74 Honda scooters is hot shit to a kid whose nearest peer lives on the other side of a small forest populated by toothless itinerants. Bren bought every hiphop magazine he could find, and plastered the walls of his and younger brother Ehren’s bedroom with pictures of rappers feverishly grabbing their crotches. His parents were unsure about the imagery, but supportive of his passion, so on Christmas of 1992 they gave him his first drum machine. Exit little Bren, enter big Alias. In 1993, a trip to the Maine Mall in Portland brought Alias, 17, to the feet of a real life Karl Kani-fitted hip-hop scholar. He listened to the wisdom spoken through this guru’s then-patchy red beard, and soon would be battle-rapping in the “ciphers” he’d only read about. The mythical Moodswing9 would teach him to use an MPC3000 and an ADAT machine, how to find vinyl records with drum breaks and, three years later, he joined Sole (who’d since ditched the Karl Kani) as a member of the Live Poets crew. Still, it wasn’t until 1998, after finishing the seminal Deep Puddle Dynamics project alongside Sole, Dose One, and Atmosphere’s Slug, that Alias realized he was a lifer. He and his wife Jenn were on their way to the laundromat when they got a copy of the finished DPD record. They subsequently sold the car, quit their jobs, packed everything into a U-Haul to head west. In East Oakland, they moved into an old warehouse with the rest of Anticon’s first migratory wave. Here, Alias concocted his first album a rap-heavy, poetic and brooding introspective called The Other Side of the Looking Glass (2002). But after producing tracks for Sole’s Selling Live Water and watching Dax Pierson play keyboards in Themselves’ touring band, Alias began to focus on wordless moodpieces. His Eyes Closed EP and Muted full-length (2003) wedded rich atmospherics to guitars, keys, synth, and drums (both tapped out and played live), announcing a new direction for the artist. In 2005, Alias’ little brother Ehren  quite the musician now  flew to California to visit and record. The resulting instrumental LP a gorgeous, swirling work of woodwinds and signature Alias sounds  was named after their grandmother, Lillian. 2006 brought a new Alias-anchored duo, this time in collaboration with New York electro chanteuse Tarsier (Rona Rapadas), and the album Brookland/Oaklyn, which paid homage to vintage trip-hop even while pushing the boundaries of contemporary electronica. In 2007, Collected Remixes gathered intricate and icy reworkings of pieces by The One AM Radio, John Vanderslice, Christ., 13 & God, Lali Puna, and Lunz, among others. And later that year, partly in an attempt to shake off creative stagnation (which seems absurd considering his steady output), Alias and wife Jenn once again packed for a crosscountry trip. Alias now calls Portland, Maine, home, and has just completed his fifth full-length album, titled Resurgam.



The Other Side of the Looking Glass