Fine Animal is an Electronic dream pop duo based in Columbus OH that i’ve had the pleasure of performing with on the same bill. (Just a while ago when I was more focused on being a freelance musical floozy.) We met at Ludlow St staple Pianos, I was playing with the band Tiiidal, I remember they had a drummer on an electric kit and thinking you don’t see that often, (though they tend to play as a duo these days), what really drew me in was that their music engulfed the venue in the cleanest way; a melange of cool frost-bitten keyboard sounds, ghostly female vocals, and a bottomless bass. Kelan Gilbert and Lucy Oaks were also nailing the studio > live setup. From computers, samples, SPD-SX triggers, guitars, and vocal harmonizers, they were presenting an entire idea–even though i’d never heard it before,–I felt on some level I was going to hear a familiar sonic palate on their record, (I was right).
But that was last summer, an eternity as far as shelf-lives go for budding bands hoping for max gain, their record Before The Glow has been out since June of 2015. When Kelan and I spoke last week, I was thrilled to hear not only is the band working on new material, but that they’ve also found themselves intertwining their ideas with a local artist.
But before we delve into the inner-working of a dream pop and hip hop collaboration i’m about to drop on you, I want to tell you Fine Animal has had a great year for an unsigned indie–without the help of some clandestine PR company pushing them furtively along in shadows. They’ve had the pleasure of supporting touring acts such as RATATAT, Mr. Twin Sister, Zola Jesus and Small Black and were are also a featured artist on the NPR radio program Echoes.
Photo By: Zane A. Miller of Grasping Photons
So at a time when they could easily hold their heads down, buckle up, keep the grind alive, and record their own music, they’ve instead decided to look around, see and hear what’s going on outside their genres, and have some fun and make new friends.
When I spoke to Kelan and Lucy, their excitement over joining forces with Columbus / Dayton rapper Sarob for the first time, was exactly what was helping them avoid feeling inured by the life & times of modern day musicians.
Fine Animal’s Kelan Gilbert spoke to us about this collaboration and had this to say: “All in all, the project was the result of the coming together of a diverse range of creatives and was a truly wonderful and fun project for everyone involved. Writing and producing are more fulfilling the more I try to write and produce outside of my comfort zone. With Fine Animal, we’re lucky to have a sound and style that is dynamic and malleable enough to where the musical door always seems open and inviting to experimentation and collaboration.
“A hip hop collaboration was a step into the complete unknown for me, so naturally I had to chase after the notion of putting one together.”
I put a blast out on social media asking about who everyone’s favorite local (Ohio) rappers were. The very first response I got was from a friend saying I needed to check out Sarob. I looked up some of his music and never looked back. A hip hop collaboration was a step into the complete unknown for me, so naturally I had to chase after the notion of putting one together. Even after exploring a few other incredibly talented local hip hop artists, Sarob was unquestionably who I was hoping to work with. I sent him an email and he swiftly got back to me and seemed equally intrigued by the idea of working together. The rest is history.”
So who is Sarob exactly? In short an emcee/singer/songwriter otherwise known as Rob Tate that has been making his unique blend of hip hop publicly since 2013. His first mixtape Noon was praised by New York City based vet emcee Homeboy Sandman (who happens to be an old friend of mine). If you’re into indie hip hop, getting a nod from someone with as much creative fuerza as Homeboy Sandman, is pretty indicative of Sarob’s bravado.
Kelan Gilbert went on to say, “In short, working with Sarob was one of the best creative experiences I’ve ever had. The guy has a vibe and energy that made the process really fun and exciting, and he’s indisputably a rising talent. It’s really great to work and create with somebody like that. It was also really cool and interesting to hear Lucy’s voice in a new context.”
“Once A Day” is the first of two singles being released by Fine Animal + Sarob. A remix Kelan Gilbert made of Sarob’s song “Serenity” will also be included with the second single. To compliment this release Alex Trimpe created original visuals that go along with the premiere of “Once A Day,” (which you can watch above). My thanks to Rob Tate aka Sarob, Kelan Gilbert and Lucy Oaks of Fine Animal for this one! Stay tuned for brand new material from both of these artists.