Champagne Confetti push the boundaries of orchestral music in The Current studio

Champagne Confetti perform 'Gardener' at The Current. (Nate Ryan)
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Champagne Confetti full session and interview
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  • Champagne Confetti full session and interview 27:28
  • Champagne Confetti - Spinning Rainbow 03:10
  • Champagne Confetti - Gardener 04:57
  • Champagne Confetti - Beach Hawk 04:07

Accomplished Minnesota musicians Aby Wolf and Eric Mayson wanted to create a group that would take them out of their comfort zones, so they created Champagne Confetti, an 11-piece orchestra that blends ambient sounds with electronic beats, R&B, and chamber music.

Having collaborated on different projects in the past, Wolf and Mayson knew they had similar outlooks. They knew they both wanted to write and perform new songs for a live orchestra, and it didn't take long to get new ideas rolling.

"We started working together by just improvising," said Mayson. "We would just roll something like a phone recorder and just play for hours. Everything that came out of it was like, 'Oh Yeah, these moments where we both went really huge and we belted for like three minutes, that's the song.' So I think working with Aby feels like a very similar music vocabulary. We don't really have to explain very much. Even when we get into lyric writing there's not a lot of discussion. It pieces together really easily and is something that is falling into place rather than trying to fit in."

In Champagne Confetti, Wolf says, each of the musicians' voices helped shape the music, adding more textures and layers to each song. But transitioning from electronic music to having musicians play their work didn't come without its challenges.

"Initially when Grant [Cutler] and I started working on a couple of these song ideas together it was the same way," she said. "Grant was using Ableton and picking out sounds and vibraphones and some of the time signatures and some of those kinds of computerized sketches were just locked in and very challenging. Then when the time came to give those lines out to live players it was like, how do you even do this? And the very first day that we got together, really my head just exploded. I've learned so much over the course of, it's been a couple of years working with these people and I've learned so much."

Although it might have been easier for Wolf and Mayson to continue using electronic instruments instead of a live orchestra, they both believe that bringing their compositions to local musicians made a big difference in how the end product turned out.

"Working these tunes out with other people," said Mayson, :the Prince way of doing things was like, 'Well I'll just do it because I know what it's supposed to sound like.' If that had happened these songs would not have sounded like this, because everybody that comes into the room brings their own flair. We've got people from jazz backgrounds, people from chamber music backgrounds, experimental composition backgrounds, everybody has vastly different ideas on how to approach this material, and it's really altered the content a lot. I don't think it would even sound like this if we were like, 'Oh, I'll just do it my way.'"

Although the origins of classical music go back centuries the music doesn't live in the past, something both Wolf and Mayson know to be true.

"If these classical composers were alive in 2019, this is what they would be doing," Mayson said. "They would be experimenting. they would be pushing the boundaries just like they were then. They would be writing movie scores and doing crazy electronic music and playing warehouses. Like this is what they did back then, there's no reason why we need to keep it in that sort of museum state."

Champagne Confetti perform at the Parkway Theater on Apr. 13. Listen to Champagne Confetti's full interview with Andrea Swensson using the audio player above.

Songs performed


"Spinning Rainbow"
"Gardener"
"Beach Hawk"

Personnel

Vocals - Aby Wolf, Cameron Kinghorn, Amy Hager, Jacob Mullis
Violin - Sara Pajunen
Viola - Erica Burton
Cello - Jonathan Kaiser
Bass Violin - Ted Olsen
Piano - Eric Mayson
Percussion - Joey Van Phillips, Heather Barringer

Hosted by Andrea Swensson
Produced by Jesse Wiza
Engineered by Michael Demark
Visuals by Nate Ryan and Mary Mathis
Web feature by Simone Cazares

External Link

Champagne Confetti

10 Photos

  • Champagne Confetti
    Champagne Confetti strings perform in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Champagne Confetti
    Champagne Confetti strings perform in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Champagne Confetti
    Aby Wolf sings with Champagne Confetti in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Champagne Confetti
    Amy Jager and Jacob Mullis of Champagne Confetti in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Champagne Confetti
    Aby Wolf in The Current studio with Champagne Confetti. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Champagne Confetti
    Eric Mayson plays with Champagne Confetti in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Champagne Confetti
    Heather Barringer plays with Champagne Confetti in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Champagne Confetti
    Champagne Confetti perform in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Champagne Confetti
    Aby Wolf with Champagne Confetti in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Champagne Confetti
    Heather Barringer plays with Champagne Confetti in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)