Parterre du Quartier des spectacles
WHO: Montréal-based musician Alexander Cowan, also known as Agor, originally in collaboration with Raphaelle Standell of Braids
STYLE: Electronic techno pop, heavy beats and atmospheric vocals
LATEST WORK: Get Happy / Get Happier (2014), Agor Edits (2014)
LABELS: Arbutus Records
MORE: Founded in Montréal in part by Cowan’s brother, audio engineer Sebastian, Arbutus Records went from DIY loft space to label home for Grimes, Braids and Majical Cloudz
MUTEKs: Montréal 15x15: 2014
Blue Hawaii’s recent transformation is subtle: weaving heavier hip hop and techno beats into signature striking vocals and acoustic guitar and horn harmonies, all lit by analogue synth warmth. Pop music turned inside out yet atmospherically lush and technically polished.
A recording, DJ and live project, Blue Hawaii pairs Alexander Cowan’s production and rhythm approach with Raphaelle Standell’s vocals, instrumentals and songwriting — an expressive accomplice to her band Braids’s introspective experimental pop. Riding buzz for their EP Blooming Summer, the band released textured glitch and synth pop album Untogether on Montréal’s Arbutus Records, embarking on an elongated tour in Europe, Asia, and North America and garnering a Juno Award in 2013. Touring sparked explorations into dance music and live sets that merged into DJing and improvised vocal loops and synth lines. Their latest EPs of new tracks and remixes roam from minimalist clicks and soaring vocals straight into the club, delving into bass driven hip hop rhythms and arresting vocals that break somewhere between ambient and house.
While Standell worked on and is now touring Braids’ new album, Cowan produces new Blue Hawaii tracks, featuring Standell and other collaborators, and tours worldwide. Blue Hawaii’s set at MUTEK is Cowan alone with a mixed DJ/vocal hybrid conjuring a pop influenced electro evening crashed by propulsive beats on the outdoor stage.
Coeur Des Sciences
Youthful indie-pop meets honed electronic production in Raph Standell-Preston and Alex Cowan’s, Blue Hawaii. The band’s first album, Untogether, released in early 2013 on Montréal’s Arbutus Records (home to Grimes, Braids and Majical Cloudz), layers Standell-Preston’s ethereal vocal harmonies with acoustic guitar, analogue synth warmth and drum machines that verge on entrancing human fallibility. Both Blue Hawaii’s live and DJ sets evoke a pop-influenced romantic, lush atmosphere punctuated by a slick, quietly-techno sensibility.