Intimacy in the 21st Century

Chromatic Colors

If I were to be perfectly honest with you, I’d have to tell you that I’m getting pretty darned bored with a lot of music these days. The format is depressingly similar over and over: four dudes with guitars; verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge; now it’s quiet – now it’s LOUD; guitar solo; oh the broken hearts lay in a sad pile. I hope that’s not too harsh; but that’s where I am right now. It is a big reason I’ve seen Chromatic Colors so many times. They’re doing something different. They’re one of a kind in Salem and they’re damn good, to boot.

Chromatic Colors on set at CCTV: Jasper Gill, David Guzman, Katy Ohsiek, Wil Bakula, and Nick Burton.

Chromatic Colors is a pop/jazz fusion affair with Katy Ohsiek on vocals, Wil Bakula on keys, David Guzman on guitar, Nick Burton on bass, and Jasper Gill on drums. These five talented folks met while attending Willamette University. They’ve all graduated, but for now they’re calling Salem home. I hope they stay. We need them.

It’s difficult wrangling five people’s schedules, but I was able to meet with the core songwriters, Katy and Wil to talk about their upcoming full-length album release, “My Friend, Starstruck.” There are 12 tracks on the CD, so they decided to release the first six songs (available now on bandcamp and iTunes), and then release the entire album at their album release at Venti’s on the 21st. We talked about their songwriting and how they put songs together. Some songs, like Katy’s “Plastic Shoes” were already written and previously performed solo by her and some were from Wil’s cache. They’re interested in challenging the listener both with the music styles and the lyrics (yay)! Wil explained, “Pop music is very comfortable. It lures the listener in and then we challenge them to listen to something different…then we let them get comfortable again with a little more pop.”

Katy says that she loves writing lyrics. She loves to be able to say whatever she wants and be as dramatic as she wants. Her voice is velvet smooth, so when you take a listen to what she’s actually saying, she’s once again challenging the listener. She sings about disappointing relationships – a universal theme – with many 21st century updates. From Wil and Katy’s favorite track, “Die Alone” she talks about being better off. Some of my favorite lines: “He checked Facebook on his phone naked in bed/Avoid most boys with guitars/He repeated his own jokes that didn’t land/He got harder for concertos than for me.” She often refers to the role of technology in today’s relationships. In fact, the cover of the album is a bloody hand holding a mobile phone, which visually represents how she is jaded by technology and how you can become obsessed with someone through social media.

My favorites are the pop heavy, “Plastic Shoes” and “I’ll Wait 4 U.” Also, the bass is super present on these tracks and I’m quite partial to the bass. Another thing they do well is allowing their songs to spin out into big lush soundscapes that wrap you up, carry you away, and softly let you back down.

Also on the bill is another huge Salem talent, Erin Westfall. She has her own concoction of pop sprinkled with jazz feels. It’s a well-paired bill. The show is Saturday, September 21st at Venti’s downtown at 7:30pm. There’s a $5 cover charge and it’s all ages. Come out and see some of Salem’s most talented musicians and support local music. The Salem scene NEEDS you. I’m serious.

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