Four EDM artists will launch an intergalactic music odyssey late Friday night.
Vest and Tyler, Allium, Cheska and Hizen will host “Welcome, Visitors,” a space-themed EDM show at Ann Arbor’s Club Above. The show will feature an out-of-this-world mix of live performances and DJ sets from all four artists.
“All four of us just wanted to get together and make something really magnificent as far as the electronic music scene, and we wanted to bring that more to light, especially with talent that’s been in and around the area,” said Tyler Denig, aka Vest and Tyler, who organized the show.
“The ‘Welcome, Visitors,’ show gives an opportunity to welcome those kinds of people to come out and enjoy electronic music, even in a place like Ann Arbor, where it might not be the first thing you think of in terms of the music scene.”
For the “Welcome, Visitors” show, each artist will assume a different interstellar identity during their set. Dubbed “Digital Satellite Base,” Denig will emerge as a digitized form from late 20th century Earth technology and materialize through a series of beeps and boops with a GameBoy Color in hand.
Meanwhile, Allium, aka Electric Junkyard Moon, will shapeshift into a cyber space priestess and galactic traveler who emits a cyberpunk sound to Earth. Their two companions, Cheska, aka Interstellar Bass Colony, and Hizen, aka Beach Party Planet, will bring raging bass and thumping house music via a beachy vibe to all alien life forms, including an intergalactic bunny.
“Even though we all come from different places, we’re all effectively trying to do the same thing, and we’re all trying to meet the same goal. When I was writing up some of those bios for the event page, I wanted to make sure that people’s individual styles and stories were represented,” Denig said. “Even if we were from just far off and distant planets, we’re all coming to the same place, which is to make music and enjoy it.”
The Stratton Setlist recently traveled to several dimensions to learn more about each artist and their interstellar identity.
Vest and Tyler – Tyler Denig
Ann Arbor-based EDM artist Vest and Tyler will feature a set inspired by retro video game music from “The Legend of Zelda,” “Sonic” and “Super Mario.” Four years ago, Denig started producing video game and chiptune music and creating pulsating mixes during his high-energy performances and on-stage antics.
Along with his GameBoy Color, Denig adds a unique live-action element to his performances, cultivates a united energy to the crowd and delivers a new set each time he takes the stage.
For his set, Denig will share video game, chiptune and synthwave tracks from his new “BitCrush” EP, which will drop June 21. He’ll also include tracks from 2017’s “GLiTCH” and 2018’s “The MotherShip” EP as well as perform with electronic music producer and vocalist Allium on her latest single, “Hold Me.”
“This will be the first time that I’ve played any of these new songs in their completed state at a show. I’m also going to use a modified GameBoy Color that’s going to have a few more capabilities, and I’m going to have the front lit,” said Denig, who wears a dapper vest and tie while performing. “I’m working with some of the hardware in it, so I can end up playing a few more beeps, boops and notes to expand my live performance.”
Outside of his own music, Denig has remixed tracks from other artists, including Black Stanley, LEViT∆TE. and Samsara Family Collective. He’s also doing an Aug. 4 DJ set at Kensington Metropark’s Cosplay Beach Party.
Allium – Tessa Fornari
Adorned with an LED audio-reactive cyberpunk industrial-style mask, electronic music producer and vocalist Allium, aka Tessa Fornari, will make her live debut Friday at Club Above. She’ll mix electro acoustic and trash sounds with dance tracks to bring a post-apocalyptic feel to her set.
“As Allium, I wear the LED mask, which I built and programmed myself, and a lot of the stuff I had learned in my sound engineering classes I had used and applied it to that,” said Fornari, who grew up listening to Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and Gwen Stefani. “I have this four by eight matrix of LEDs on the front of this mask that I had designed because I also do some cos-light stuff.”
During her set, Fornari will perform her latest single, “Hold Me,” which features Vest and Tyler on vocals. She released the single last month as a preview of her forthcoming “Escapism” EP, which will drop in July. The track focuses on two people who are trapped in space and end up holding each other.
“There’s just a lot of distortion, and I take a lot of influence from Grimes. I love a lot of the stuff that she does with her violin and how she distorts it, and she does that with voices, too, and she pitches them around,” said Fornari, who’s studying sound engineering at the University of Michigan. “There’s a lot of drums and percussive layers, and there’s also a lot of sound design that’s kind of sci-fi. I was trying to make a droid sound, like a human intonation of weeping.”
Fornari’s “Escapism” EP will be her first new material since 2016’s “Dark Days and Ages” and “Castaway.” She also collaborated with Vest and Tyler on his “Faith in You” single earlier this year.
Cheska – Angelica Frances Arriola
While attending Eastern Michigan University, Cheska, aka Angelica Frances Arriola, developed an affinity for EDM and hasn’t looked back. She started going to shows and digging for new music, including Haywyre, Virtual Riot, Seven Lions and Porter Robinson.
“The first person I ever heard was Skrillex. My friends were playing him in the background in their dorm the first day of freshman year, and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, what is this?’ It was a CD of Skrillex, and I asked them if I could have it,” said Arriola, who grew up playing the piano. “They gave it to me, and I looked everywhere online.”
Arriola’s growing fascination with EDM led to two party mixes, “When I Sip Champagne, It’s Rosé” and “Cheska Chunes,” on SoundCloud and her first live DJ set at Club Above. The Warren DJ will mix a set of future bass and dubstep tunes with energetic beats for EDM aficionados Friday night.
“I’m going to showcase all the different types of genres that I like, and I really like melodic and hype stuff, it’s going to be a rollercoaster,” said Arriola, who’s artist moniker, Cheska, serves as her family nickname. “I’m just dipping my toes in the water for producing, and I do enjoy mixing.”
To hone her producing and mixing skills, Arriola will attend several music festivals this summer, including Electric Forest, and perform pop-up sets for festival crowds with her boyfriend.
Hizen – Hunter Isenhath
For Hizen, aka Hunter Isenhath, his EDM journey started at age 14 with Daft Punk’s mesmerizing “Tron: Legacy” score in 2010. His budding fascination also quickly led to a strong appreciation for Dutch DJ Martin Garrix and Houston rapper Riff Raff.
Nine years later, that rabbit hole has led to a pool-side, beach-inspired DJ vibe for Isenhath, who focuses on storytelling melodies, sensual basslines and flamboyant drum hits. He also performs with the Grand Rapids-based Samsara Family Collective, a group of five artists who share burgeoning electronic music in West Michigan and the Midwest.
“Our big goal is to create a unique, yet diverse environment for people to come to for fun, expression and good music,” said Isenhath, who lives in Lansing. “We pride ourselves on staying unique, building real connections with supporters and other artists, and making quality music.”
Those connections with supporters and artists also will be built during Isenhath’s set Friday night. He’s going to ride the alien vibe and keep the music melodic and synthy to bring a futuristic feel to the crowd.
“I will still have some Hizen staples that I incorporate in all my sets,” he said. “I actually haven’t even met any of these artists, but I’m so excited to. I can tell that everyone on this bill has a vision and some fire in them, and that’s what it’s all about, baby.”
As for music, Isenhath released a groovy remix cover of Yes’ 1983 smash, “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Dubbed “Lonely Heart,” the track demonstrates Isenhath’s classic rock phase and lonely state of mind he experienced at the time.
“The first half of the tune takes a real introspective tone, which then evolves into an almost big-room drop in the second half,” he said. “The track is there for anyone feeling like nobody gets it or just straight up feeling lonely.”
Isenhath also features a continual mix series on Sound Cloud called “Shoreline Circuit,” which showcases new tunes and gives listeners a shoreline sunset vibe. He seeks inspiration from an ever-revolving door of artists, but frequently cites the creative forces of Amtrac, a Kentucky-based DJ.
Welcome, Visitors with Vest and Tyler, Allium, Cheska and Hizen
10 p.m. Friday
Club Above, 215 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor