Exmag: Blending Hip Hop and Blues for a Soulful Electronic Journey
By Julie McNally
Exmag is the name for the collaboration of musicians that recently filled the air of Steamboat with original tunes reminiscent of the past four decades; stacked and layered between the lines…or in this case, between the beats. Denis Jasarevic (aka Gramatik) joined forces with music producers Eric Mendelson, Mike Iannato, Tyler Dondero, and ILLUMNTR to create Exmag. The group guided the patrons of the Old Town Pub on a funkified, hip hop influenced journey through time on August 17, 2014. Local favorite DJ Seth Abrumz kicked off the show with a high energy opening set that had the crowd moving early in the night.
Denis Jasarevic, considered one of the leading music producers/DJs of the electronic music scene, is also the founder of the record company Lowtemp. Self-described as “an independent 'created by artists for artists' record label” on their website, Lowtemp continually produces fresh, cutting-edge electronic music in a very saturated market. Aside from producing Exmag’s album ‘Proportions,’ Lowtemp has also released various records from electronic artists such as Gramatik, BRANX, Gibbz, ILLUMNTR, and Russ Liquid. Their Soundcloud webpage not only offers free downloads of Exmag’s album, but also provides hour-long mixes and other Exmag track remixes for free stream or download. ‘Proportions’ reached 1.7 million downloads within six months of being released.
Exmag truly stands out as a unique act in the sea of electronic artists flooding today’s Colorado music scene. That night, moments of the show felt like a 1970’s funk dance party met today’s downtempo hip hop influenced electronic scene. The Old Town Pub was filled with sounds of fingers running up and down the guitar’s fretboard in a frenzy of notes fluttering through the airwaves. Tyler Dondero and Eric Mendelson even interchanged their instruments between playing guitar and keyboards for various songs. The members of Exmag maintained the crowd’s attention through downtempo journeys of beats and guitar riffs that kept the crowd dancing like puppets attached to Mendelson’s guitar strings. Even the 1990s-rememiscent crunchy synthesizer buzzed out hip hop beats while the guitarist showcased his Brooklyn-esque blues guitar licks--a true blend of past & present on many levels. This unique blend makes Exmag one of the most interesting and intriguing acts of 2014.
Listen to Exmag's album Proportions