Popular EDM Band Exotic Matter and the Difficulty of Finding Success in Minnesota

Local EDM band Exotic Matter struggles to book shows even after door-busting performances. What does that say about the Twin Cities music scene?

Photo: Travis Meier, Exotic Matter at Day Block Brewing during Electro-Night

Last updated on February 18th, 2022 at 09:27 pm

One of us

Hugely successful Minnesota talent is somewhat rare. When it does happen, we’re understandably proud. These bands can join the likes of Atmosphere, The Replacements, and of course our dearly beloved Prince, all of which have the coveted star on First Ave. Unfortunately, losing talent to the coasts is a common occurrence, and that’s exactly what’s gonna happen to the instrumental EDM (electronic dance music) band Exotic Matter.

Courtesy: First Ave, Prince‘s Star on First Ave

Exotic EDM

Exotic Matter is Alex Kish (midi sax and saxophone), Austin Elliott (drums), Nick Swanson (bass, producer) and fearless and persistence leader Winter Ference (vocals, keys). Their sound and stage presence are unique. The closest I can come to describing them is acapella instrumental EDM band.

Photo: Travis Meier, Exotic Matter at Day Block Brewing during Electro-Night

That description sounds counter-intuitive, but that’s exactly how they are. Their diverse influences and sounds add a creative, unique twist to each of their songs. I’d try to compare them to some other band, but there really isn’t one that sounds like them.

Exotic Matter comes from a pop-punk background, with a mix of death metal and jazz topper. All of this influences their distinctive style of EDM. Their songs are focused around lyrics. As Winter explained, “I outline the picture and the band fills it in.” The beauty is that no song sounds same and no patterns are developed. Their sound is constantly changing.

Photo: Travis Meier, Exotic Matter at Day Block Brewing during Electro-Night

I experienced their exotic sound at Electro-Night at Day Block Brewing with Lazenlow and Gypse Freq Circus. Their performance was dark yet tetrachromacy, almost like you’re in a lava lamp. Interestingly, their songs do not match what you hear on their record when performed live.

Photo: Travis Meier, Gillian Needham of Lazenlow at Day Block Brewing during Electro-Night

Since everything is instrumental, with the exception of minor use of backing tracks, (stuff they can’t reproduce) there is some improvising in each song. Each repeated listen brings a different yet unique experience while still following the upbeat dance blueprint.

Leaving Minnesota

EDM is big in Minneapolis. Big clubs like the Armory and the Skyway regularly bring in well known acts. It’s great to see another up-and-coming band in its infancy come to life in the metro. Unfortunately, though, that’s often where it stops. Exotic Matter has decided to come of age elsewhere. As Winter explains: “Local venues don’t seem to care about cultivating the EDM scene here in the city. Due to the fact, DJ setups are easier to assemble and you can pay them much less.”

Photo Courtesy: Skyway

Exotic Matter has also run into stages that are too small for what they offer, causing them to take a unique approach. Instead of going to a club, they own their own equipment and run a pop-up concert venue wherever they can, from community rooms to parks.

Before Minneapolis loses another band to California, Exotic Matter is hosting another Electro-Night 2.0, featuring Static Panic and BadNraD sometime in the near future. They’ll also be headlining Campfire Fest at Harmony Park in Geneva, MN on July 25th – 28th. Keep an eye out before then and for shows announced around the Midwest (they’re hoping to play in Duluth, Milwaukee, and Chicago). They will definitely be hitting cities in-between. In addition, watch for their new EP, Elements, which is being released soon.

The lack of opportunity for artists in Minneapolis has always worried me. Slug from Atmosphere always assures me, “Quit complaining, you can building something on that ground.” Without local help from places like the Skyway to take a shot on bands, venues will continue to strangle bands in their infancy and not give them an opportunity to grow. The only mark remaining could potentially be their name on a star at First Ave.

Written by Travis Meier

Black coffee drinking traveling photojournalist based in NE Mpls!


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