By Amy Childress
Assistant Editor, The Selective Echo
Ami Hana, the solo artist behind Raw Xtract, has been performing professionally since she was 16. Born in Helena, Hana has moved back and forth between Montana and Utah. She has resided in Salt Lake City for the last seven years.
Originally, Raw Xtract was meant to be used as a group name, but after Hana performed ‘Raw, ‘an original spoken word piece about overcoming heroin addiction that she performed for a friend, she was encouraged to take it on as a stage name. Shortly afterward, she appended ‘Xtract’ to complete her moniker.
‘Raw Xtract is about taking those moments of woundedness and allowing something beautiful to come out of it – getting to the heart of the essence of alchemy,’ says Hana.
More of her spoken word pieces can be heard on her first album ‘eleven,’ which she released in 2010. The album comprises spoken word pieces scored with original piano compilations.
She will perform twice with DJ Electronic Battleship during the festival: Friday, June 22, and Saturday, June 23, at 5:30 p.m. on the Big Mouth Stage of the Literary Arts venue.
Since she was young, Hana has dabbled in many different artistic endeavors, including theater, poetry, painting, and music. After the release of ‘eleven,’ Hanna taught herself how to make beats and took the audio engineering process more seriously. She has since moved on to her latest endeavor as a video jockey, or what she calls ‘VJing,’ – person who mixes and projects live visual images, typically accentuating a musical performance.
‘A VJ utilizes images that may include business or artist logos, movie clips, custom graphics, and live video shots,’ she explains. ‘VJ’s make your musical event and presentation look good.’
Before Hana started VJing she was making music videos for hip-hop artists, and she then became interested in the possibility of doing live visual manipulations of her clips.
At the festival Hana will mix live, pre-made visual clips with effects and project them onto a screen to accentuate the music and the immediacy ofr performance.
She adds, ‘To be a good VJ, one has to be in tune with the music and follow the changes and watch the tonality of the audience.’
Raw Xtract also has several other festival appearances scheduled. She will be VJing for ‘Blue Distance’ (Thursday, June 21, 8 p.m., The Round), and for Burnell Washburn (Sunday, June 24, 8:45 p.m., The Round). She recommends onlookers stick around after both shows and to look high and wide. She is referring to another facet of VJing, called video mapping, which involves projecting video images onto the exterior of buildings – such as the walls of the City Library on festival grounds. In fact, these rogue projection could quite possibly be seen at the most unpredictable times on buildings throughout the Salt Lake City area during the summer.
Regarding Hana’s collaboration with DJ Electronic Battleship – who comes from Ogden – the duo first met at a hip-hop show at Why Sound in Logan, Utah. Hana admits she was already a fan of the DJ before the two met, and the two have been collaborating since. They have previously performed together on Park City Television, and are working on a project titled ‘Stop and Break!,’ a hip-hop collaboration that will be released online as a multi-media VJ mix tape.
Referring to their working relationship, Hana says, ‘We just speak the same language.’ The two will be performing songs off ‘Stop and Break!’ and Hana’s newest album ‘Bargain Books and B-Flicks,’ a dark-mood concept album featuring original scores influenced by pulp detective fiction novels. During their shows, DJ Electronic Battleship will be mixing Hana’s original beats live while incorporating his own scratching artistry, with Hana accompanying him on the piano.
‘It’s going to make you feel good,’ says Hana, with absolute confidence.
This is not the first year Raw Xtract has performed at the Utah Arts Festival. In 2010, Hana performed songs off ‘eleven,’ also on the Big Mouth Stage. In 2002, while walking home from a restaurant job in downtown SLC, Hana passed the Utah Arts Festival and overheard a performer who reminded her of Peter Murphy, the vocalist from Bauhaus. It was that night she decided performing at the Utah Arts Festival would be her goal as an artist and musician. Hana is grateful for the doors the Utah Arts Festival has opened for her; the festival setting has allowed a wider audience a chance to hear and view her art.
Hana recently played at the Desert Rocks Festival in Green River, Utah with Royal Jelly-Bees, a collective of VJ artists who collaborate for different events and festivals. She also will be playing on the locals stage at Summer Jam 2012 on the weekend after the festival. She will release her newest album ‘Bargain Books and B-Flicks’ in September in conjunction with the SLC Downtown Gallery Stroll and Ken Sanders Books.
For more information about the festival, see here.
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