Xyphl provides unique, shoegazey electronic music, standing out as more of a sonic art project than simply another rock band.
Lien Do, first-year design and music theory major, is the singer and songwriter for Xyphl. Some of her musical inspirations are Bat for Lashes, Dirty Projectors and Björk for their ability to stay out of the mainstream music scene.
“They’re so different and don’t care what people think about them,” Do said. “They really push the limit of what society views as music.”
Do is no stranger to the music world. She has toured California with Xyphl, played at a number of clubs and art galleries and has been creating music for years. At age seven, Do began playing the piano. By age 13, she was playing guitar, drumming and writing songs.
After playing with several different bands, Do decided to go in her own direction in her junior year of high school. She collaborated with Mel Mel Mooring, a first-year at Hampshire College, and Sam Rabourn, percussion instructor at Granite Bay High School, to create a multi-sensory musical project.
Rabourn was a student teacher in one of Do’s music classes and saw her as someone who could make music professionally.
“She seemed to be the only student that I had there who was actually ambitious and who had some real, raw talent,” he said.
While Do provides the sonic art portion, Mooring provides the visual stimuli in the form of video. Rabourn drums at live shows and plays two homemade instruments – a cyral, which is a 12-feet tall and 10-feet long series of metal tubes, and a crystal table.
The table has 12 glasses carefully mounted to achieve a certain pitch, which can be then be tilted by a foot pedal. Rabourn plays the table simultaneously with the cyral, which is rubbed to create a singing, metallic sound.
Do and Rabourn both know music theory and how to read music – something that distinguishes musicians from one another around the world, Rabourn said. They apply this knowledge to their musical creation and use a music notation program rather than audio engineering programs, which is what most mainstream electronic music is made from.
Due to the complexity of their live performances, Xyphl will plan out their big shows for months. Do said that setting up before a performance takes a significant amount of time as well, where video, lights, colored gels and other props take the stage.
This year, Xyphl is focusing on recording an album instead of playing a lot of shows. Xyphl has about 15 songs recorded already, and the anticipated album will be a musical narrative with corresponding video.
Following the idea that everyone has multiple alter egos, Xyphl’s first album will tell the story of one of Do’s alter egos and her passage towards committing suicide.
“It’s about how it’s not in vain but for love,” Do said. “How her life is complete and how that justifies her suicide.”
Do plans to pursue a professional musical career in the future, possibly with Xyphl. Rabourn, who hopes to become a professional film composer, said that he will continue with Do and see where the project goes.
JANELLE BITKER can be reached at email@example.com.