A little something on the side… (pt. 3) - A little something on the side…

2008-07-17 11:03
Lesson 2: Your new identity needn’t actually be real

Perhaps the most popular side project to have found mainstream success is the animated kookiness of Gorillaz. Born out of the ashes of Blur and the Brit-pop meltdown of the mid-to-late 1990s, Gorillaz came about as a collaboration between Blur frontman Damon Albarn and animator Jamie Hewlett.

The four band members/characters that make up the band exist purely on a virtual level, marrying the charm and innocence of Japanese anime with guerilla street art and a cheeky sense of adventure in their made-up world. And the allure of the band was irresistible.

Musically, the band broke borders as well, meshing hip-hop beats with punk rock riffs, reggae funk and Latin comedowns. Gorillaz would likely have been less of an attractive proposition if the songs were not as infectious as the spirit of the enterprise itself. Songs like “Clint Eastwood” and “DARE” became huge hits across the pond in the US as well, and in the space of two album - Gorillaz (2001) and Demon Days (2004) – were able to achieve the crossover success that Albarn’s two-decade stint in Blur never really could.

Albarn has proved to be a particularly restless innovator, having abandoned both Blur and Gorillaz to pursue a solo career, where he was able to dabble in his fascination with African music, and latterly in new “concept band” The Good, the Bad and the Queen – a super-group of sorts that’s brought together former members of The Verve and The Clash and Nigerian Afrobeat musician Tony Allen. The band could be seen as the perfect union of all Albarn’s influences and fancies to achieve pop sophistication.

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Side. Pet. Vanity. Add the word ‘project’ to each of these and you have the hottest trend in music today.

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