What do you get when you give a weapons developer, a street artist and a derivatives trader a stage name? Art.
Meet Autograf, three artists in their own right who turned loft party DJing into the career path of their dreams. Jake Carpenter, Louis Kha and Mikul Wing comprise a Chicago-based DJ/producer/artist trio, currently taking the dance music scene by a tropical house storm. After catching them at a festival over New Year’s, I got a chance to see them again when they stopped at Populux as part of their three-month Metaphysical tour, which will culminate in New Orleans at the Buku Music + Art Project.
Maybe it’s because I’m writing this on a beach listening to Dream (thank you, indulgent affordances of college lifestyle and Spring Break), but thinking back on last Saturday gives the feeling of swaying in a hammock to the beat of twinkly piano lines. Though their style is certainly more laid back than some other electronic artists, the show still buzzed with energy and excitement. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s not quite fit for a booze cruise, but that’s OK. The boys of Autograf aren’t exactly going for the debauchery of an all-you-can-drink vibe.
Though they all have different artistic and educational backgrounds, the music certainly comes together nicely. Wing, the street artist (who unfortunately, was absent due to a bad case of strep throat) had a few galleries in Chicago, and Kha the derivatives trader, studied economics at the University of Virginia in Arlington. Carpenter, who went to Columbus College of Art and Design for metal sculpture, worked for the Department of Defense as weapons developer, also doing research and development and underwater robotics.
The fact that all three were individually involved with music made coming together as Autograf natural.
“My mom made me take piano lessons for ten years,” Carpenter said of the start of his music education. “I did drum lessons for five years. In high school I played in the jazz band and marching band, but I didn’t do any art until the end of high school/start of college. It was just recently that I started doing art again with music.”
Kha, on the other hand, picked up music as a hobby and assumes he would still be in economics had production not taken over.
“I feel like most people are put on a path at an early age, a lot of times they kinda stay on that path,” he said. “For me, I jumped around … a lot of people have idealistic dreams when they’re young and if you don’t pursue it, a lot of times you forget about it. I was just fortunate enough to pursue it and be successful with it.”
That idealistic dream has taken shape in the form of a thriving endeavour to create music and perform live. Detroit was treated to a gorgeous set — complete with Carpenter on drums — that had Populux holding on to every note. From start to finish, whether playing their most well-known hits like “Dream” and “Metaphysical,” or spinning out some nuanced noises that can’t quite be categorized, we were in it. Based on what I’ve seen and heard, it appears fans of the trio can only continue to grow in dedication and numbers.