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“This is ART” is the brainchild of musician and performer Art Webb. While his bass-driven electronic and hip-hop music is created by manipulation, Webb’s ingenuity couldn’t be more real. Webb sets the paradigm for a full-bodied experience and transports listeners from the outside in. Etched into it all is his personal ethos: “to take a mindful approach to all that I do.”

“I want people to realize the beauty and truth they are listening to,” he explains.

By means of his vernacular – bass guitar, laptop and synthesizer keyboard- Webb unravels a psychedelic journey. They are his method for mangling and manipulating sounds. Live instrumentation and melodies play together against a gritty, rhythmic backdrop. Figuratively, he invents new instruments on every single track.

Webb infuses his kinetic performances with a lighthearted camaraderie. Audience members exchange hugs and high-fives and collectively chant “om” together. Much like Webb’s music, their enthusiasm comes from a place of sheer passion and pleasure.

While Webb was born in Anchorage, Alaska, he is undeniably inspired by his community of Nashville, Tennessee. The artistic diversity and quality of musicianship is unparalleled in his eyes. His peers’ work ethic continuously inspires him to hone his skills and musical palate.

Music City is where his mother relocated the family so she could pen songs for a publishing company. His father worked odd jobs to make ends meet prior to establishing himself as an author and philosopher. Art and his sister were raised (in the recording studio) to pursue what they loved.

Webb remembers looking at the audio mixing boards thinking, “One day I’ll know what each of those knobs does.” He became enamored with the tape recorder and used it to document his childhood. To this day, he samples miscellaneous sounds from that era. The vibe is magical, in the moment and representative of where it all started.

Record, start, stop, rewind and play. It is how he adopted the role as the 21st century songwriter using a laptop, electronic equipment and a pair of headphones in place of a guitar.

When he was 7-years-old, Webb’s mother invited him onto the stage for the first time. It was the moment that crystallized his desire to become an entertainer. After he sat in on a jam session, Webb requested his first bass guitar.  Every time his fingers touched an instrument it felt right. His home-schooling schedule afforded him the liberty to play music full-time all the while improving his craft.

As a teenager, he skateboarded straight into a half-pipe of culture: baggy jeans, shredded T-shirts, dreadlocks, hard rock and hip-hop. Jimi Hendrix presented a haven along with jazz, classic and psychedelic rock. He borrowed CDs from the library by the likes of Miles Davis, Cream, Herbie Hancock and Pink Floyd. Catchy guitar solos, reversed sound effects, dirty bass lines and progressive rhythmic drums became his obsession. Modern era artists that fused jazz and psychedelic rock together—like Medeski Martin & Wood—inspired him.

Nonetheless, it was an STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) concert that brought his mutable musical interests full circle for the first time. They fused the “jam” of 1960s music with hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, and electronic instruments. For Art, the limitations suddenly appeared endless. All he cared about was that each song resonated with himself and the listener. In 2008, he streamlined his focus and began touring under the alias This is ART. He explains the creative and civic-minded venture as, “One that makes a difference in the individual as well as the community.” To him, there is nothing more special than the gathering of like-minded people to celebrate life, joy and artistic freedom.”

Check out This is ART here. 

Words by Lily Clayton Hansen

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