On June 17 at Das Bunker, electronic duo Whiteqube played inside a white, LED lit cube on the stage in the largest room of the multi-dance floor club. The duo of Jason Schary and T. Ryan Arnold jumped up and down behind laptops, their LED jackets flashing words and images in bright white light. Occasionally they threw glow-sticks, neon balls and even an inflatable raft into the crowd. The audience of the largely full room was dancing wildly, screaming whenever there was a moment to breathe in between the songs.
It was only Whiteqube's second show.
Both members of the duo have extensive backgrounds in music. Arnold has played in a few bands and has scored films. Schary is best known as DJ Bractune and the guy behind Bractune Records, which has released work from Combichrist, Aesthetic Perfection and others. He spins regularly at Blue Mondays and has also turned up behind the decks at Bang!, Das Bunker and a host of other clubs across town. They began working on Whiteqube about a year ago.
"Basically, we were having kind of a dinner party one day and we were listening to a lot of sort of early and mid-'90s techno bands and having one of those conversations like how come nobody makes music like this anymore," says Arnold, "and somebody who was there was like, 'Jason and Ryan, if you really want to hear that, you should do it yourself.'"
They did, but the ideas they had didn't begin to fully take shape until they scored a gig opening for Combichrist at the Galaxy Theatre in May.
"We didn't know we were going to do the show until about six weeks before that," says Schary, "so it was a mad rush to get everything together in an appropriate way."
They worked with producer/DJ Krischan of Rotersand to finish the tracks and began building the cube.
"It's completely handmade," says Schary. "Most of the parts you can get at Home Depot."
Arnold says that it took about a month to turn the idea of the white cube into reality and required "a lot of high school geometry." The cube is made of PVC piping.
"There was a lot of trial and error to get to the part where we are today," says Schary.
It takes about an hour for them to set up for a show.
"LED lights are a little testy," says Arnold, "so we have to baby them."
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Then there are the jackets, which were custom made for the duo by an artist in San Francisco. Each black jacket features a small LED screen on the front and a controller that fits into a pocket. They created a few videos for the show, which reside on an SD card that is inserted into the controller and plays on the jacket.
The effort paid off, though, one month later, they were playing Das Bunker, L.A.'s long-running home for industrial music. To be fair, there's a benefit to having been around the L.A. scene for a long time and, certainly, part of Whiteqube's draw is the fact that many people know them from other projects. That, however, is the case for a lot of bands and, with Whiteqube, the duo has enough energy and solid dance tracks to go beyond the local scene.
Musically, Whiteqube straddles the past and the present of electronic music. Some tracks, like "Fireworks" are so old school rave sounding that, if you heard them at a club, you might expect "James Brown Is Dead" or "Charly" to come into the mix next. Other tracks seem inspired by the Ed Banger and Kitsune schools of electro house. Then there are numbers like "Metalliqube," which sounds exactly as you might suspect, and a cover of Madness' "One Step Beyond" that's a surefire party-starter.
Six of Whiteqube's tracks are available on a USB comprised of three white cubes that you can pick up at shows. Otherwise, you can download their music for free via Facebook.