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Ella Riot fires up with 'DanceThink' music

Courtesy of Jon Morgan

BY ANNA SADOVSKAYA
Daily Arts Writer
Published July 7, 2011

Back on home turf this Saturday at Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park is Ella Riot, the Ann Arbor-based band formerly known as My Dear Disco. This year has been busy for the group, which changed its name and traveled the country promoting the newly released EP, Love Child. Although a fresh title accompanies the five musicians, their sound is still, undeniably, their own.

“Ella Riot and my Dear Disco are essentially the same thing,” Robert Lester, ‘U’ alum, guitarist and vocalist for Ella Riot said in an interview with The Michigan Daily. “It’s still really danceable, electronic, funky rock. People say it’s kind of like Stevie Wonder meets Daft Punk mixed with a female singer. It’s really high energy music played by a full band.”

Although My Dear Disco proved to be catchy, the group’s new name, Ella Riot, presents their musical goals and inspirations: "Ella" refers to Ella Fitzgerald, (someone the band members met in school) and had a large jazz influence over their musical education, while "Riot" describes the energy they bring to their show.

“There’s a chaos to it that I think is actually really positive,” Lester said. “It speaks to the idea of our music, and we try to communicate that. In the end, it was one of those things that just felt right.”

The electric band communicates best with their loyal fans through their performances, emphasizing the excitement and loyalty that course through the connection between band and audience as Ella Riot performs onstage.

“It’s a unique way to connect with people in a very real-time way,” Lester said. “We pride ourselves on being a really good live band. We appreciate great performers who can build their show around the meaning of their music, and that’s something we also strive to do.”

Ella Riot brings to each song something called “DanceThink” music that has been described as everything from style, to inspiration and genre. For the band and fan base, though, it means listening to evocative songs set to a booty-shaking beat.

“DanceThink is a concept for us and something we strive to do with our music as much as it is a way to describe the genre,” Lester said. “It’s about writing music that’s as satisfying for your body as it is for your mind.”

Not to be confused with simple hip-hop or dance tracks that hold little emotional response from listeners, “DanceThink” is all about the exciting complexity of great lyrics.

“It has compositional value that is more than your average pop or dance music,” Lester said. “It’s where body meets your mind and it’s a musical goal.”

Whether it’s the promise of a good performance, sweet lyrics or an excited atmosphere, Ella Riot commands a riotous, vivid crowd of individuals who yearn to dance the night away to the electric tunes Ella Riot provides.