Deep Ellum Art Co Jeff Collins | Photo Credit: Andrew Sherman
Opinion | By Andrew Sherman
Being a DFW music photographer, you can imagine I see a lot of bands. A lot, 3-4 a night, 4-5 nights a week. As I have gotten older I have become more forgiving in my musical tastes. I respect passion and great musicianship above all else. That being said, it’s a lot of bands to ingest. To be honest, I may enjoy hearing it all, but it’s hard to keep track of all of that music. It takes a lot for a band to really stand out to me. Still, I go into every show with as little expectations as possible. That was my mindset when I first took photos of the Electrik Ants earlier this year.
From the very beginning I was captivated. Seven guys on stage, some trading instruments throughout the show. Live drums, sax, keys, some rapping, a DJ, solid rhythm section, harmonies and even a rain stick- I loved everything about that first show. They had a jam feel but were not a jam band. Jazz riffs but not a jazz band. Trip-Hop raps and beats mixed in but not those genres either. Classic rock songwriting core mixed with hints of jam band/jazz jamming with a saxophone and DJ samples, beats and a killer rhythm section. Who are these guys, what is this sound, and why the fuck do I love it so much?
Photo Credit: Andrew Sherman | Deep Ellum Art Co. David WIlson of Electrik Ants
Back in 2013, Jeff Collins and David Wilson were strangers who found themselves in a band after they were connected by mutual friends. That band only lasted a year but it was enough for the two to find a chemistry writing and playing together. They worked very casually on music and recording at the home studio with no real goal other than to make music that sounded good to them. Jeff’s younger brother Dylan had just graduated college in Austin and had skills as a rapper, a writer and the wild card factor. He was gently convinced to move to Plano and the three began writing and the core of Electrik Ants was formed.
The three met twice a week at least, where they wrote, recorded, but mostly talked about what they wanted their sound to be. They never put any limitations on what they were trying to create. Jeff was already producing music so they were able to get complete demos, which brought musical ideas into actual songs. They would try all sorts of sounds and blend different vibes from all their favorite bands. As is the case with a lot of musicians/people these days, there is a wide array of influences. The almost extreme mix of different styles became clearer and morphed into a unified sound as the months of writing and creating went on.
Photo Credit: Andrew Sherman
Granada Theater | Dylan Collins of Electrik Ants
The trio added the power combo of Val Hajro on drums and Mike Maschman on bass. Another unique element is they have DJ Still Do for samples, beats and general outer-spacey vibes. Not long after that, Ryan Dahir joined on sax and added yet another layer of feel and pro level musicianship. The result three years later is a universally appealing sound that is very hard to describe. So what genre is it? I think one needs to be created to truly explain the sound.
Electrik Ants have only been a live band for about six months. They started with a residency at Drugstore Cowboy in Deep Ellum and got the attention of passer-by Kari-Lynn LaRue, co-owner of Deep Ellum Art Co. She got them a show at Art Co where Michael Kervin of Time 2 Fly music heard them and was instantly taken in. Since that meeting they have played a gig almost every week in and around Dallas as they try to build their local following.
Photo Credit: Andrew Sherman | HOB Foundation Room Left to Right Jeff Collins, Ryan Dahir, David Wilson
Next up are more local shows, and the release of their first album at Deep Ellum Art Co June 15th. After that they hope to do their first tour with eyes on the festival circuit. Their upbeat sound with the eclectic blend of styles makes them the perfect candidate for that scene.
I’ve come to the end, but I still haven’t figured out what genre Electrik Ants are.
I think one needs to be created to truly explain the sound. Maybe just “Modern” Music, or simply just call it good and enjoy the ride.
— Andrew Sherman is a contributing writer and photographer for En La Calle on the Street.