CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. — It started as a way for Aron Magner and Marc Brownstein to push the boundaries of their electronic music.
The keyboardist and bassist of the Disco Biscuits have a new project, Conspirator. After a successful summer playing festivals and the release of their EP “Unleashed,” Conspirator is on the road, bringing its hard-hitting electronic dance to The Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room on Saturday, March 16.
Not to be considered a side-project by any means, Magner and Brownstein started by bringing in a revolving lineup of musicians and cultivated a sound that traverses genres. However, with the addition of the multifaceted guitar player Chris Michetti of psychedelic progressive rock group RAQ, Conspirator really started to find its groove.
The trio was joined by KJ Sawka, a drummer who has made a stir playing some of the most complex drum ‘n’ bass and jungle beats without the use of looping or extended samples. They knew this combination created the sound they had been searching for.
“Last summer was indicative of Conspirator beginning to stand on our own two feet,” Magner said. “Prior to that we’ve had different drummers join us, all of the sudden we knew KJ Sawka is our drummer. We started putting in a bunch of new material that was sounding the way we always thought Conspirator should sound.”
Conspirator refuses to stick to any genre, instead drawing from each member’s diverse musical background to create music that is as heavy as any hard hitting electronic DJ while not neglecting the melodic balance of a live act.
While a DJ playing alone may get stuck in a certain genre, either by necessity through beat matching or by trying to create fluidity in the set, Magner said playing with a band, where each member brings a different style and appreciation of music to the table, allows the group to break out of genres and explore a range of tempos and sounds. The group has worked to perfect this evolving sound in front of a growing fan base across the festival scene.
“The great thing about festivals is that you’re playing in front of a lot of people who have heard of you or about you but haven’t had the opportunity to check you out, and now you have the ability to collect all of these people into one place and preach your gospel,” said Magner, who has a long history of playing festivals, including Camp Bisco, launched by the Disco Biscuits in 1999.
Last summer in particular brought inspiration to the group to begin producing new material. In February 2013 they released their newest EP “Unleashed,” which features a refined mix of pure melody with raw dance floor shaking beats. The EP reached No. 4 on the iTunes electronic music charts in January. Despite embarking on a 28-city tour this winter, the group hasn’t stopped there. It has been polishing new material over the last few weeks on the road.
“We got so excited with (the EP) we started writing more songs. Then Chris went on a tear and started doing crazy production and we put out another five or six new songs that have recently been debuted,” said Magner.
The group is already looking forward to meeting new musicians, reuniting with old friends and sharing their passion with fans and people from all different walks of life at festivals across the country next summer. Between heavy production of new material and a busy tour schedule this winter, the musicians have a lot of work ahead of them.
“The fun part of being in a band is you’re basically hanging with your friends who you also make good music with. If you have that combination in a band, that’s going to be a successful project,” said Magner. “It’s why we do what we do.”
Jenn Sheridan is a senior at Sierra Nevada College. She is the managing editor of the student newspaper the Eagle’s Eye.