Forgetting for a second Alison Mosshart and the endless army of senior citizens driving late-model Oldsmobiles, Florida is famous for bad pop-punk, rancid ska acts, and death metallers who don’t have the nards to ply their trade in Scandinavia.
How shocking, then, that with Gainesville’s Hundred Waters, the Sunshine State has finally given kids a reason to stop wishing they were growing up somewhere cooler. Like Seattle, Indiana, or, well, anywhere.
The members of the four-piece didn’t, however, start out making lush and sophisticated electro-rock. Google the name of singer and flutist Nicole Miglis and you’ll find old YouTube clips that suggest she was once a fan favourite in Florida’s finer singer-songwriter–oriented coffeehouses. As for her bandmates in Hundred Waters—drummer Zach Tetreault and guitarist-programmers Paul Giese and Trayer Tryon— they’ve done time with the kind of sweet-and-spiky acts that dream of one day landing a contract with Fat Wreck Chords or Fuelled By Ramen.
Considering that no one in the group is exactly new to the music business, Miglis is thrilled that they’ve all finally latched on to a project that satisfies them artistically. When the frontwoman is reached on the road before a gig in Minneapolis, she says that Hundred Waters is at the tail end of a touring leg for the newly released sophomore album, The Moon Rang Like a Bell. To her delight, the shows have gone better than she might have dreamed.
“We just pulled into Minneapolis after driving from Chicago, so I’ve been in the van for a while,” Miglis says. “But it’s all been good—this tour has been pretty special. We worked on the album for so long, and we’re finally playing it. And people have been responding really positively and been so supportive of what we’re doing. This is the first time that we’ve headlined, and the shows have been incredible. It’s like we are at a point where it feels good to share this.”
What Hundred Waters has been sharing with the world are highly textured yet refreshingly organic-sounding songs designed to appeal to those who enjoy the blissed-out Bristol brand of electronica as much as chillout-room folk. But the band’s template isn’t limited to those styles. “Murmurs” takes a bedrock of digital-crunch percussion and then layers it with swooping ’80s soul-sister vocals, “Innocent” marries panning synths with a slurred sepia-toned jazz delivery, and “Down From the Rafters” builds a bridge between old-timey Americana and exotic Turkey.
“I think it’s exciting when everyone is bringing different styles to the table,” Miglis says. “For me, it really opens up my imagination, and makes me willing to try things that I might not try on my own. And when there are a lot of different parts that don’t fit together, it forces you to find some sort of connection. Even though it’s a different kind of challenge, it makes things more exciting in a way.”
Among those who’ve found themselves excited about Hundred Waters are no less than Skrillex, who signed the band to his OWSLA record label, not to mention Pitchfork, which gushed all over The Moon Rang Like a Bell. They have plenty of company in the excited department, namely Miglis and her bandmates. “We’re still trying to find what we’re doing—this is kind of like a journey that never ends,” the singer says. “It’s the challenge of trying to express your art and personality as a group of people that are all doing that at the same time. But I think we’re developing a really strong sense of self.”
Hundred Waters plays the Media Club on Thursday (July 24).