All photos used with permission of High Step Society
I’ll never forget the first time I saw High Step Society: it’s 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday night in August, 2018. I’m at an intimate music festival called Summer Meltdown in the lush forests of Darrington, Washington. Papadosio has just finished playing, and High Step Society, a group I had never heard of, is on next. The lights come up and the seven band members immediately spring into action, playing their wide array of instruments with gusto. The ensemble are sporting vibrant Roaring-20’s-esque costumes. An adorable redhead vocalist serenades us with sultry tones, rendering me momentarily speechless. Being it’s the last day of a four-day festival, my entire body is aching and screaming at me to rest—but that all changed within the first opening minutes of their set. The bass boomed, brass instruments trilled and I couldn’t help but dance like it was the first day.
Jazz Meets Bass Meets Electro
High Step Society are the perfect amalgamation of wildly talented jazz musicians and electronic producers. Their complex sound is incomparable to any other artist and their live shows are SO. MUCH. FUN! I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them three more times since Meltdown, and I’m impressed every time. Having live instruments and a vocalist is rare in the electronic music world. Collectively, they play the upright bass, drums, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, horn, saxophone and keyboard. What other band makes you want to headbang and do the Charleston in the same song? I’ll wait….
Their latest EP on Gravitas Recordings, Perception, is a 12/10. Their self-described cocktail of “electro bass jazz” is unique, edgy and truly innovative. High Step Society can be counted on to produce what I like to refer to as “Jazz Bangers” (I made it up but it works perfectly in this case). I’d like to think that their sound is the byproduct of a few jazz musicians being transported into 2020 and have been taken under the wing of some filthy bass producers. It’s a fun visual, right? Listen to their music and you’ll see what I mean! During their live performances I swear they boost the bass.
My favorite track is probably “Perception” thanks to the heavy bass that promptly greets you at the beginning. Granted, I’m a basshead so I’m biased, but the track is high energy and punchy. The song exudes soulful jazz with interwoven wubs and dubs that are punctuated with sexy brass notes. It’s the most delicious cacophony of sounds made perfect by the velvety notes sung by the vocalist. Check out the music video below.
“Sidestep” is the perfect track to illustrate the balance between bass meets jazz. Its upbeat tempo with perky brass notes and thumping bass will make you feel some kinda way. The honeyed tones of the vocalist will transport you to a smoky dance hall where dancers jump and sway to the beat. I can’t emphasize enough that in order to understand this perfect juxtaposition you must see them live. You won’t regret it, I promise. Give Perception a listen below and check out their website here.
Always a Crowd Favorite
High Step Society played again at Summer Meltdown this past year, but this time they closed the festival on Sunday night. They were the perfect note to end the festival on! The entire crowd went wild as though it were the opening set on the first day with renewed spunk and energy. Even though I was absolutely spent, I grooved and shimmied because you just can’t NOT dance your heart out when High Step is performing.