Elecktra and The Annihilation Carousel w/ Bowlsey, Haniwa, & Felina
The Root (21+)
3012 N Walker Ave.
7 PM, Saturday, April 15
$13 (admission includes snacks and birthday cake)
Women with strong, sassy personalities are often described as firecrackers, but in the case of Elecktra Stanislava, the term is almost patronizing. If anything, she’s a full barrel of dynamite, and she doesn’t boom for mere spectacle. She instead clears mountainous passes for countless independent artists and organizations.
Her tireless engagement in the community might overshadow her own artistry if not for her distinct and constant performances. When she isn’t organizing or running shows for Oklahoma City’s musical nooks and crannies like The Unkempt Beaver, she is playing them. With a bare acoustic guitar and a full, husky rock & roll voice, her music stands on its own merit in a live setting. It is hard, however, to not imagine how it would sound with a full band.
Enter Elecktra and The Annihilation Carousel. Tomorrow night marks the debut of the singer-songwriter’s newly formed rock trio which will headline a diverse lineup at The Root. Impressively, although this will be the band’s first live performance, it will be recorded for a future live album release. Additionally, the show will not only celebrate the new band, but will also double as Elecktra’s 32nd birthday party, complete with a prom night theme.
Even when she’s the focal point, though, Elecktra insists on sharing the spotlight. In true form, she has taken this opportunity to support and showcase a number of independent artists and organizations that will perform various services throughout the evening (including vegan-friendly catering and a photo booth). She is also allocating a portion of admissions to charity.
Read on to find out more in a special interview with the dedicated rocker.
This Saturday will be the debut of The Annihilation Carousel, your new backing band. After years of performing solo with just an acoustic guitar, what led you to pursue working with a full band?
Having a full rock band has been a dream of mine for quite a while. I’ve always written my songs with the idea of adding more instrumentation, but finding other musicians that can really add a bit of themselves into the bare bones of my songs had previously been a challenge. I performed for about 4 years with The Uncanny Violet Unicorn as an indie art rock duet, and my first real band, The Starbellies, still performs after 19 years when my brother Levi comes to visit from Portland. You might not know this but I love being really loud!
Who is in the new lineup, and what do they play?
My best friend David Carlyle of Plastic Smile is playing bass, and Dustin Stout of Flat Earth Orbit is drumming. David introduced me to Dustin several months ago after I asked who was recording and producing Plastic Smile’s EP because it sounded so good. I don’t think they knew what they were getting into.
Have you written new material with the players in mind yet? Or has the band adapted your existing material?
Annihilation Carousel is an adaption of my existing material, but a few songs we’re performing Saturday are just a few months old. One is 19 years old this year. We have a wonderful fusion of acoustic punk with gentle touches of metal, and of course it is a bit mathy thanks to David and Dustin. The songs have really taken on a new energy with their talents. I think the best thing about our dynamic is that Dustin and David are very attentive with my songs’ eccentricities and nuances. I tried to completely step back from giving them any direction so that they could really put their own sound into their parts.
How often do you expect to play in the future as a full band act vs. as a solo singer-songwriter?
The great thing about being a soloist is only having to check your own schedule, but Annihilation Carousel will play as often as our schedules allow. I love playing music so I do it as often as I am able.
I understand that you’re recording for a live album at this weekend’s show. Since you’ve traditionally recorded in a sort of lo-fi, DIY fashion, how are you going about producing this new record?
Gog of Wooden Elbow will be recording video, and one of my oldest friends Lincoln Grubbs will be recording sound on his Tascam Dr70. My friend Andy Burns of Death by Knowledge will be running sound for us as well. It will be of much better quality with active sound engineering and more professional equipment than my DIY solo demo I released last year on my birthday.
Since this show will also double as your birthday celebration, what festivities can guests expect to find at The Root tomorrow night?
For most of my adult years, I’ve had themed birthday parties and concerts because just about everyone ReFuse loves to play dress up, have a few drinks, and listen to live music. I was rewatching Stephen King’s Carrie from 1976 several months back. Since I was in college at 16, I never got a prom, so [this year’s theme] just built on that. BC Summers has crafted a lot of things from ‘s recycled art supplies to add some special touches to a photo booth, and she’ll be doing shadow puppets throughout the evening. When I had my initial meeting with Adam at The Root, I did promise that there would NOT be any pyrotechnics, but you can expect to have a dazzling time even without them.
What can you tell us about all of the independent organizations and individuals you’ve brought on board to cater and document the event?
This entire concert is a huge endeavor of so many of my close friends. Oklahoma is full of so many talented musicians, artists, and just generally kind, awesome people. When you have so many great people involved in something like this, doing what they’re best at, you’re going to have a great event. Kelsey and I are The Unkempt Beaver collective, so we’ve all had a lot of experience booking DIY bands. Gog & Lincoln joined after I mentioned the concert while I was recording some backing vocals for a spooky, silly parody song for Gog. BC has had pop up photo booths at several events, and they’re so fun I wanted to capture the theme and immortalize the night with her help.
Bowlsey‘s own Cidward [RastaMolly’s] makes delicious tamales, burritos, and tacos, so I asked her to cater. My friend Reynie is also catering. She and I met a few years back right before she had her son. She’s the kind of friend that you can grab up the toddlers still in your pajamas and just hang with, especially on those days that your kids are just really being toddlers. She helped cater my birthday concert last year because she is really awesome.
Before I became a mom, restaurant work was my life. There’s something really magical about baking and cooking. I miss feeding a crowd, so I normally take on a good deal of the cooking for my birthday. I’ll be making my super secret chocolate cupcakes, and I made sure there will be lots of vegan options.
How did you decide to give a portion of admissions to local nonprofit Sisu Youth?
At the beginning of this year, I was elected Committee Chair of event coordination & outreach for Sisu Youth. I played its first benefit concert in 2015 and learned about Sisu Youth then. I’ve always loved volunteering, but Sisu Youth’s mission to support Oklahoma City’s homeless & at risk youth really hits close to home to me as a mother. We’re gearing up to open the youth dorm during weekends this summer, so every donation and every volunteer we can bring in will help us towards that goal. I have made it a personal goal to host at least one fundraiser and volunteer outreach concert every two months, and I have plans with several other organizations to co-coordinate other events later this year.
Felina is an amazingly talented singer-songwriter. We met at Rock Camp for Girls OKC in 2015 and became fast friends. We’ve played several shows together since. I fell in love with Haniwa‘s dreamy sound last August when they volunteered to play a benefit I co-coordinated with BC Summers to raise money and donations for Louisiana flood recovery. Every time I have seen Bowlsey play, I’ve always been taken aback by how much power and soul they put out. It’s a dream lineup, and one of the best parts, I think, is that there will be a woman on stage in every band the entire night.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m really thankful to everyone that is a part of this. A lot of people really dread their birthdays, but I always really look forward to each year because I get to do what I love with awesome people. Maybe in three years, when I’m 35, I’ll get to have pyrotechnics and share the stage with more great musicians.
This article was originally written for Cellar Door Music Group (cellardoormusicgroup.com). It is archived here with the publisher’s permission.