Blending simplicity with complexity can produce the most beautiful things. Such is the music of UNA. The Los Angeles-based band deftly juxtaposes intricate musicianship with lush, gorgeous vocals to convey emotion. The band's music is starkly honest and multifaceted.
The band's music fuses genres, too: Electronica? Well, sure… but UNA, which includes Richard Larsen (keyboards, guitar, mandocello), Jennifer Nice (singer), Scott Eric Olivier (synths,guitar, drums), and Eddie Barajas (turntables), also invites influences of blues, funk, trip-hop and even jazz into their orbit.
On UNA's new 6-song EP, Hiss for the Fly: A Common Apocalyptic Survival Guide, the band sees itself as an extension of the common housefly, in that it too melds a variety of conflicts and reflects the ubiquity of human struggle. After all, the fly ultimately survives its environment. "We became fascinated with the resilience, the complexity, the anatomy and the skill set of the common housefly. We saw the fly in ourselves in many ways, the cool side of the fly, as well as the creepy and intricate," says Nice.
The EP also boasts some über cool remixes: Charles Webster (The Orb, Ben Watt, Sara Jay/Massive Attack) reworked "Heal Him Now" and the pop/electronica Mystery Skulls reconfigured "The Raft."
The press is quite taken with the band as well. UNA received praise in such influential outlets as CMJ, Spinner, MTV Hive, and others. "If you want to know what James Bond would sound like in a musical notation sense, with some added flair, then take a listen," wrote SoundCloud. According to Flavorpill, "Riding the wave and cheer of their airwave-friendly release 'Fading in C# Minor,' indie radio darlings UNA impress with their airy brand of profound and nevertheless catchy pop, haunting down tempo grooves, and chic, soulful vibe."
Hiss For The Fly… is a real departure from Laughing Man's sound, and part of that can be attributed to the addition of Olivier whose credits include programmer, multi-instrumentalist, and engineer for Michael Jackson, Van Halen, Gwen Stefani, and Goo Goo Dolls. "It's all the new technology from Scott," Larsen reveals. Adds Olivier, "From a performance perspective, adding drums, guitars and other live instruments contributes to an edgier sound overall, and increases our ability to improvise and pioneer new arrangements."
Circling back to the analogy of the common housefly, Nice muses, "Our live show, with Scott on synths, guitars, and drums, with Richard on keys and guitar, Eddie on the turntables, and my vocals and synth…it’s as if we too are taking flight."
Richard is a refugee from the eclectic Chicago scene and came to Los Angeles to work as a producer at Quango Records. Later, working with Kevin Lincoln as co-producer for his show The Blueprint at KCRW, Richard was careful to first release his tracks under the name The Mighty One, and, once the tracks got "legs", Richard revealed himself as originator. Delphine Simonis of LA's KPFK calls The Mighty One (Richard's Inspiration), "a cross between Mark Farina, Amon Tobin, J.S. Bach and Anouar Brahem, all in one".
Jennifer Nice is from Bakersfield, California, and studied film and drama from an early age, wrangling all her neighbors to star in her self written, edited, produced and scored film shorts. Inspired by her Colombian mother's accordion playing and flamenco dancing, Jennifer (as keyboardist) co-founded Elephonic, a trip hop band, in LA, with Anne Montone as lead vocalist, and DJ Eddie Barajas on turntables. During their first appearance on stage, they were discovered by Kevin Lincoln from KCRW and brought to The Mighty One Studio, where Richard Larsen and Kevin produced Elephonic's first EP. Later, as the band moved in different directions, Richard and Jennifer got together to record a song called Hate. UNA was born.
While being part of a band may have come as a surprise to someone who doesn't play a traditional instrument, being an integral part of UNA seems natural for an artistic soul so dedicated to the art of DJ-ing and music, and so passionate about getting things right. As UNA's turntablist, Eddie adds in the aural layers that help make UNA's sound fresh and elusive. When he's not collaborating in the studio or performing with the band, he's DJ-ing in major cities throughout the U.S. and working on 4/4 productions that have already garnered attention from household names in dance.
Steeped in the world of music, sound design and digital audio technology, Scott’s worked with a who’s who of musicians, including Michael Jackson, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt, Van Halen, Christina Aguilera, Chris Cornell and Goo Goo Dolls. “I built a computer when I was 8,” says the musician, who grew up about 100 miles from New Orleans. “Then I moved to music when I was 10: I earned some money doing chores, bought a drum kit, and started practicing for hours every day.” He also picked up keyboards and guitar, built a studio in his walk-in closet, and bought a mixer. You know, normal kid stuff. Recently joining UNA, Scott adds drums, guitars, synths and other live instruments to contribute to an edgier sound overall and increases UNA's ability to improvise and pioneer new arrangements live.