Artist You Should Know: NoGenre

FresnoDecember 25, 2013 

Fresno band NoGenre plays a mix of jazzed up hip-hop rock. The band plays Jan. 3 at the Cellar Door in Visalia.

SPECIAL TO THE FRESNO BEE — Special to the Bee

NOGENRE

With a name like NoGenre, one might expect a band that bends and blurs musical styles to fit its whim. NoGenre does.

The band — Keon Traylor, Marcus Matthews, Todd Ronne and Jason Wada — creates the soundtrack for hip-hop emcee Shon J with an approach that is very "throw-things-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks." But it's not genre-bending for its own sake. The Bee talked with Wada to explain.

What's with the name, NoGenre? Is it a nod to the type of genre-bending the band tries to do?

Todd came up with the name one day, saying how it sounded really cool when you say it together as if it were one word. NoGenre. Like No'ZHänr?

As far as the meaning, it is and it isn't. We all grew up listening to and playing anything from jazz, hip-hop, swing, punk, metal, et al. Everyone in the band can play multiple instruments, and we all have a great understanding of the theory and structure to music. At the same time, we're all from Fresno, and another name for the city is the No. Like a genre of Fresno.

So, how would you describe the music? It's definitely rooted in rock, but there are also obviously elements of hip-hop (especially the vocals). I also hear hints of Tom Morello-inspired guitar work. Am I off base?

We never set out to make a new genre or be indescribable, but just jammed with whatever we thought sounds good. We like to rock, we like beats and we obviously like Tom Morello and Rage Against the Machine (if you've been to any of our shows); so you're not off base. Shon J has lived and breathed hip-hop.

But it's not always spitting rhymes, rocking guitars and crashing cymbals. We try to mix it up where appropriate, and we try to mix it up appropriately.

Keeping with the themes of genre, let's gets philosophical for a second? Does genre matter any more? When country bands on the radio doing remixes with hip-hop guys, you wonder if we are living in a post-genre world? If so, what does that mean for fans? For musicians?

Sure, some people will follow a specific genre and only look for music in that category. But these days, genre gets remixed, crossed and diluted. Once they came up with "alternative" in the '90s, they tossed out all meaningful uses of the word "genre." For fans and musicians, it just means they can't rely on a word to describe a sound.

Is there anything I missed? Feel free to plug upcoming shows, releases, a website or whatever else you'd like to have passed along.

We have a show Jan. 3 at Cellar Door in Visalia with Gentle Jamie and Boney Beezly; tickets are $7 and available at www.ticketweb.com. Also ready for the New Year will be our "Remastered" EP, a sonically awesome version of what you can get for free right now at NoGenre559.bandcamp.com.

Find out more about about the band on Facebook (NoGenre559) and Twitter (@NoGenre559)

Know a local band or musician more people should be familiar with? Send details to Joshua Tehee, jtehee@fresnobee.com or @joshuatehee on Twitter.

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