Reflections from the Young Prisms

 By Karen Shamban

The Young Prisms began their musical journey in San Francisco, and it's here they return to bring their unique sound to the Oracle OpenWorld Music Festival.  We asked them to tell us their thoughts on music, performing, and what they like in an audience.  Here's what they had to say:

Q. What do you like best about performing in front of a live audience?

A. There are a lot of things to love about playing in front of people. The best part is definitely the nights when the energy the audience brings shows through. Although it always differs from city to city and person to person, when you play to a full house and people are really getting into it, it's like no other feeling.

Q. How do you use technology in creating and delivering your music?

A. Well, we actually use a lot more electronic components than people realize. Pretty much every string instrument played either live or on recording has been filtered through numerous electronic effects. Matt uses somewhere around 12 or 14 every time we play live. Giovanni has six. Most of our writing and demoing is done with drum sequencers and samplers too, so it's safe to say we use technology to our advantage in the writing process. Live is a bit different, since we keep it to the basics with guitars and acoustic drums. We also tend to use projections when we play live, so technology helps us do that fairly easily as well.

Q. Do you prefer smaller, intimate venues or larger, louder ones?  Why?

A. Couldn’t say we have a real preference in venue size. I mean, its always great to get to play through a massive killer sound system, but small venues when packed full are equally as special if not more so, because of the intimacy of it. Some of my favorite shows I've seen as an audience member/ fan have been at the smaller venues in San Francisco.

Q. What about your fans surprises you?

A. Sometimes the older guys are a surprise. We've played shows where there are more older guys in their 40s and 50s, who come and stare and take notes at our effects pedals. Then there are kids our age or in their 20s. Sometimes it's surprising to think that the older guys relate to what we're doing more than our peers and friends in our age group.

Q. What about your live act surprises your fans?

A. I think people are often surprised by how shy we can be. It feels like people expect us to be really rowdy and throw things and make really loud noises and get really aggressive on stage because some of the sounds we use can have an abrasive element to them. People expect Matt to have some kind of Kurt Cobain attitude, which he doesn’t at all. So it seems it surprises people to see musicians playing loud and noisy songs in their early and mid 20s being fairly tame and calm on stage.

Q. There are going to be a lot of technical people (you could call them geeks) in the Oracle crowd -- what are they going to love about your performance?

A. Hopefully most of them are pedal nerds like we are and like the previously mentioned “older dude crowd.” Besides that I hope they’d be into the projections and group of songs we're going to play for them.

Q. What's new and different in the music you're making today, versus a year or two ago?

A. I'd say there is more focus on the songwriting now and less of the noise today than last year. I think it's pretty evident on the new record compared to the last two. On the first two records we made as YP, we had another guitar player and songwriter who no longer plays with us. So the process in which we develop songs is different as well.

Q. Have you been on tour recently? If so, what do you like about touring, and what do you dislike?

A. Touring is amazing. Some people might tell you different if they've been doing it for what they'd call too long, but for us it's really a great chance to play for people who care about the music we're making and also to see and explore the world. Getting to visit so many different cities and explore so many different cultures is amazing. Of course we love getting into cultural foods too. Stefanie is a fashion geek so getting to go to New York as often as we do as well as getting to play in London and Paris is always especially fun for her.

Q. Ever think about playing another kind of music? If so, what, and why?

A. Never really thought about wanting to do anything drastically different. I think the style of music we play has a lot to do with the stuff we have been listening to both growing up and now. It wasn’t really a conscious decision to make sure it was a certain sound, so I'm not sure we've ever thought about doing a way different genre or whatever like electronic music or country. Although there have been times we've had conversations where we discuss possibly doing quiet sets or using the string synth sounds.

Q. What are the top three things people should know about your music?

A1. We like noise.
A2. We use ambience and atmosphere as much as as we can.
A3. Yes, the vocals are supposed to be mixed in with the guitars.

Get more info:

Oracle OpenWorld Music Festival

Young Prisms


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