Grandma's dance party

Lucia Garcia and Matt Duplessie go electronic

Garcia and Duplessie are charter members of the Savannah band Word of Mouth

She's not nearly old enough to be anyone's grandmother, but Lucia Garcia — who calls herself Electric Grandma — certainly crackles with electric energy.

Still, she laughs, "I'm very like a grandmother. I have traits that you would think a grandmother would have. I have a very old soul."

One of the keyboard players in the eight-member Savannah band Word of Mouth, Garcia is releasing her first full-length solo album this week.

Electric Grandma was written, played and recorded by Garcia and her fiancé, Word of Mouth's Matt Duplessie. While Word of Mouth's music is an amalgam of styles, including hip hop, electronica and straight-ahead rock, this is synthesizer-driven dance music, soundscapes created from a nuanced balance of software-crafted beats, an arsenal of keyboards, guitars and other instruments, and Garcia's airy soprano vocals.

"I really wanted to make it dance-y, because I feel that dance is one of the strongest forms of prayer that we can give," is how Garcia explains it. "We just get straight connected to the source when we're dancing. Even if we don't realize it, these movements we're doing are ancient — people have been dancing for millions of years.

"When you're dancing, it's almost like your thoughts don't get in the way any more. You take yourself out of it. You're just fully immersed in the feeling of the dance. And I think when you take your mind out of it, that's what really brings you closer to God."

Planes of consciousness are most assuredly scaled on tracks like "Brink of Reality," "Be the Light," "Immortal" and "Let it Go." The music is hypnotic, the lyrics hint at a life beyond this one.

The impetus to commit the project to (digital) tape came from Duplessie, who studied sound design at SCAD.

He's also a prolific musician.

"Whatever your core instrument, whether it's a piano or a guitar, that and a tape recorder are your two biggest tools," he explains. "When you get an idea, it's so fleeting that if you don't capture it in that moment, it could be gone forever. And you could never get the timing or the cadence again, whatever it is about it that makes it unique.

"That's something I've always made a habit of. Record my ideas. So I have created a kind of catalog of little ideas and motifs that have stuck with me, and I'll say 'I'm going to use this one day.'"

Duplessie reached deep into his grab-bag of musical ideas to craft the soundscapes for the Electric Grandma album.

A trained pianist, Garcia says she'd always been fascinated by synthesized sound programs, and so was inspired by the loops and layers she and Duplessie used to create Electric Grandma.

"Growing up in New Mexico," she says. "there were so many outdoor raves and parties. My brother is really big in the rave community out there. Electronic music was part of my upbringing. It was a dream of mine to learn these programs, because they looked so alien to me, literally. It just looked so foreign.

"And then when I met Matt, he'd already been producing for a while. He really knew the programs. So he really helped me delve into it, and start learning the intricacies. It goes so deep, I'm barely scratching the surface of what these programs can do."

The album, all told, was a voyage of experimentation. "It can be kind of overwhelming," Garcia says of the electronic programming aspect. "But at the same time really empowering."

Word of Mouth, while very much a going concern, is in something of a holding pattern (although the full band comes together for an appearance at the big Savannah Urban Arts Festival show April 27 on Congress Street).

"We really try to go with what's flowing, instead of forcing anything," Garcia says of her bandmates. "And really, right now what's flowing is working on the side projects."

Miggs the Artist (Word of Mouth's MC) and singer/theremin player Melissa Hagerty are about to drop new music, too — the former with his first rap album, the latter with a band called OMINGNOM.

They'll all be playing at the Electric Grandma album launch show, along with KidSyc@Brandywine.

"OMINGNOM is really awesome," says Garcia, with typically electric enthusiasm. "It's new rock with a psychedelic twist.

"Every time I listen to them, I just go out of this world."


Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung was Connect's Arts & Entertainment Editor from May 2009 to August 2014.
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