'Undefinable sound': Members of The Animatronic Stage Show - guitarist Lacey Ingalls (foreground), bassist Sadie Ingalls, drummer Dale McFarlin (background) and saxophonist Doug Bridges - play during a 2003 performance at Channel Bowl.
Local funk/jazz/hip-hop band The Animatronic Stage Show is playing three shows this weekend - their last appearances for a while as two members temporarily leave town.
Guest emcees Micelph and Phonetik, of Sitka crew Highly Unlikely, will join the band at noon Thursday, Sept. 9, in the cafeteria of the University of Alaska Southeast's Mourant Building; and 9 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, Sept. 10-11, at the Alaskan Bar.
The two shows at the Alaskan are 21 and over.
The band's core members are: DJ Astronomar (Marlon Lumba); guitarist Lacey Ingalls; bassist Sadie Ingalls; drummer Dale McFarlin, saxophonist Doug Bridges and MC LukeWarm (Luke Metcalfe).
Sadie is heading back to Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, where she's studying classical civilizations and Greek. McFarlin is moving to Portland, Ore., for a few months.
"I'd say our sound has matured a bit," Sadie said. "I also like to say we sound a lot like the soundtrack to a '70s porn film."
"Our sound is kind of undefinable," Astronomar said. "I have to come up with an explanation all the time, and it's kind of tough. We jump around from funk to disco to hip-hop, and it all ends up as fusion.
"We have songs, but we generally tend to freeform over the top of our songs. We just lock into a groove and loosen up a bit once we get into the zone."
Micelph and Phonetik have not performed on-stage with Luke Warm or Animatronic. They will perform some of their own songs in between Animatronic sets.
Sadie and Lacey, her brother, will interview the band during the Animatronic Radio Show, 10:30 a.m.-noon Friday on KTOO-FM.
"It's important to say that we're jam-band oriented, but then we try to take away from that and actually make a song out of something," Lacey said. "Our drummer is making kind of a more electronic but organic drum feeling; some of the grooves he's playing most drummers would have a hard time with. It's almost electronic music. They'd be played by drum machines."
The band plays rarely. Their last appearance was this summer during a Friday evening Concert in the Park. The weekend shows are their first at the Alaskan in more than a year.
"We don't really want to perform so much that people are uninterested in coming out to see us," Sadie said. "If you play the same places over and over again, people just stop coming out."
Animatronic formed in January 2002 to play a dance set in the National Guard Armory during the 28th annual Alaska Folk Festival. The band evolved out of Sadie and Lacey's jamming, and took a new direction when they met Astronomar.
"We thought that would be a really interesting element to bring into a band, and we just kept rehearsing and as we found more and more gigs," Sadie said. "We're all coming at it from different angles. It always keeps it interesting. You never know what the other person's influences are."
"Our DJ is really into a lot of hip-hop; he's got a couple thousand records," she said. "(Lacey) tends to gravitate more toward funk and house and techno. And some of the other guys are straight-up funk with a lot of jazz influences."
Their songwriting usually begins with a bass line and a chord progression. But lately, their experiments have verged on drum and bass.
"That's stuff that our saxophone player hasn't really listened to," Lacey said. "With drum and bass and trance, those melodies are maybe a lot more loop-based, and so it's kind of a different mindset. I'd say we've struggled with it a bit, but that's what you have to do if you want to keep on changing and progressing."
Astronomar works with a variety of samples, scratching over the top, adding melodic riffs and soloing.
Micelph and Phonetik have appeared twice on DJ Astronomar's "101 Uses for a Sharpie" program, Friday nights on KBJZLP/94.1 FM. Their crew, Highly Unlikely, includes DJ D-Script of Angoon and has established a good following in Sitka. Capital Records in Juneau has sold out of their CDs.
"They're starting to get a little following here as well," Astronomar said. "It's smart hip-hop. It's not your average dance rap. It's intellectual and it has a really good perspective."
Korry Keeker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.