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Music making, body painting, app building: Meet the Band Famous

by Jay Gabler

November 20, 2014

They make music. They make art. They make apps. The spontaneous formation of their band was livestreamed, and their entire debut EP was improvised. They're the Band Famous, and they'd like your support.

The musicians who perform under the names Norell, Zander, and Terry met in Minnesota in summer 2013. A mutual friend suggested that the three meet, and as they hung out at Terry's place, Norell told me, she noticed that there were a lot of keyboards and synths around. With Terry's permission, she started to play, and a collaborative improv session quickly developed. "By the way," Norell remembers then being told, "this whole thing is being livestreamed."

"Climax," a track on the Band Famous's debut EP Last Words, was taken from that initial improv session. The band finished their initial release over a subsequent series of improv sessions—with Norell singing, Terry largely handling production duties, and all three members playing multiple instruments—and released the dreamy, synth-laden EP as a "smart album" in the form of an app. The app, which also features a game and videos, can now be downloaded for free on your iPhone or iPad (search "Band Famous" in the app store)—but not yet for Android. More on that later.

The Band Famous celebrated the "smart album" release on Friday, June 13 at the Gay 90's. Soon thereafter, Xander's day job at Micro Center transferred him to New York, and Norell moved with him—while Terry (also known as remained in Minnesota. Since, Xander has been let go from that day job, and he and Norell are devoting themselves full-time to art, music, and freelance Web development.

"We make music, art, and apps," said Norell, who noted that she and Xander also work as models. Xander (a.k.a. Jacob Alexander) is an experienced body-painter whose work you may well have seen—or worn—if you've been out and about in the Minneapolis club scene over the past couple of years. Terry may or may not move to New York to join the duo, depending on the success of a Kickstarter that's counting down to Nov. 30 with a goal of $30,000.

As you might expect, the Kickstarter premiums are diverse. For $30, backers get gemstone bracelets made by Norell. At $40, Norell does intuitive/tarot readings via Skype. For $1,500, a backer can strip down and get a custom paint job from Xander. Pledge $10,000, and the band will build you an app.

If the Kickstarter reaches its goal, the band will use the proceeds to (a) port their app to Android, (b) finish their next album, and (c) film a music video (dedicated to Robin Williams and others who have suffered from mental illness, Norell told me) in Minnesota next summer.

Among their supporters: Slug of Atmosphere, who first suggested that the band build their own app. "When you make it," he said, "you should buy me a sandwich." Now that they've actually built the app, said Norell, they plan to go further than that and provide "a feast."

The trio chose their name because "we want to redefine the word 'famous.' Usually when you think of 'famous,' you think of celebrity scandals. We want to take the word back. We're all stars."

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.