Hot on the scene – Chameleon Project 

Hot on the scene, the Toronto-based livetronica phenom The Chameleon Project blurs the line between electronic and organic sounds to create a psychedelic dance party that stimulates the senses. Fusing elements of groove-based jazz, EDM, funk, disco, dub, reggae, and experimental rock, the music is both intelligent and visceral. Their live shows bring something new every time as the band weaves classic breaks into vivid soundscapes, seemingly effortlessly. Shows are expansions on the band’s tightly-arranged studio tracks, thoughtful experiments featuring unexpected improvisations layered with unique timbres, otherworldly vocal samplings, and heavy, tight beats.

As a testament to their diverse sound, they’ve been compared to such disparate bands as Bonobo, Medeski Martin and Wood, STS9, John Scofield, Thievery Corporation, Soulive, and the Disco Biscuits. The Chameleon Project mixes elements of the past with modern innovations into a signature style that is full of infectious, syncopated grooves. Combining the dissonance of jazz and the liquidity of electronica, the music is a truly chromatophoric experience, frequently changing tonal colors much like that amphibian that’s the band’s namesake.

With a focus on rhythm and texture, the band centers around Snappy Homefry on bass and Kevin Lee on drums (and samples). Band founder Josh Laing provides melodic interest on guitar, FX and real-time sampling, and Jordan Quinn rounds out the sound on keys. Avid students of music history and theory, this introspective group paints with a diversely curated palette to create a sound that expands on their respect for past masters and forge something totally new.

From playing a rave at some underground warehouse to a jamband festival, The Chameleon Project has attracted fans from across the spectrum. With the recent release of their album Funk n’ Space (2016), the band regularly tours Canada and the Northeast US. They have shared the stage with such acts as Lotus, Bassnectar, Keller Williams, EOTO, DJ Shadow, and The New Deal. Their festival chops include such Camp Bisco, Evolve, Freedom Festival, Illumination Festival and the NuJazz Festival. Combining the authenticity of live music with the psyche of electronica, The Chameleon Project adds a human element to traditional EDM. All of us at LMNR look forward to what this unique band does next.

CBC “Big city small world” review of “Live at Camp Bisco” EP

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“Sebastian Buccioni, Josh Laing, Kevin Correia and Snappy Homefry tag their music ‘psychedelic dance with jazz roots’ but I think it does them a disservice.

Sure, they dabble with psychedelia and yes, many of them are professionally-trained jazz musicians who love improvising, but that’s only half the story.

But, there’s also some old-school funk and dub reggae in the mix, and I like how they emulate electronica sounds with their instruments. For me, their upcoming EP not only showcases their musical chops but also their flair for seamless eclecticism.”

All Musical Colours in One

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CHAMELEON PROJECT
ARE ALL MUSICAL COLOURS IN ONE

from Vol. 11 No. 23 • June 9 – 15, 2005 of View Magazine:

Sometimes you just want to say nuts to the singer– songwriters of the world, with all the introspection and headiness that comes with their kind of music. Sometimes you just want to shake your ass. That’s where Toronto–based jazz/drum&bass/dub/ breaks/funk/ disco (phew!) wunderkinds The Chameleon Project come in.

Dedicated to the fine art of inspiring booty movement, Chameleon Project are set to hit Pepper Jack’s this Saturday, with their bag of tricks in tow. Composed of Josh Laing (Guitar, FX, Real–time Sampling), Snappy Homefry (Bass), Adam Hutchison (keys) and Tyrone Caissie (Drums), CP’s influences are all over the map, ranging from Art Blakey and Amon Tobin to Lee Morgan and The Crown Heights Affair. Their music, however, while wide–ranging in spirit, is in reality a cohesive, dance–tastic whole.

If that above–listed fusion of genres seems daunting to you, don’t fear. This is a salad–bowl versus melting pot kind of situation, where each part serves a distinct purpose in making the whole instead of being, well, a hodge podge. As Laing says, “We all do what we do for the good of the project. Everyone brings a piece of the puzzle to the musical table…

“The hybrid of what we play came about for many reasons, but one of the most overriding was to push the jazz repertoire into new, progressive territory and to push drum and bass and electronic music into more vital territory and out of its current state of general malaise. “We just want to strike a blow in our own little way for music that can rock the dance floor and your brain all at once.”

It seemed to me that Chameleon Project aren’t what one might call a jam–band, but Laing set me straight. “Well, I would say we are a jam band,” he explains, “only we’re trained jazz players who use jazz harmony as our basis as opposed to (the) rock harmony that most jam bands use. We’re a jam–band in the sense that our sets rely a lot on in the moment—improv and on–stage communication.

“The clearest way to describe what we do is a fusion of jazz, dub and drum and bass—we call it breakbeat dub– jazz. But in reality, we play groove oriented, improvised music, and what you hear is a blend of what we listen to, are inspired by, and what we reflect back to the listener.” And they are jazzy, alright, not only in certain rhythms and some of their instrumentation, but also thanks to that aforementioned improv. “Being jazz players—that’s at the heart of what we do,” Laing explains. “The improv provides the perfect foil for the repetitive and propulsive grooves of the rhythm section that drives the jam. The drum and the bass takes care of your body and your booty, while the improvisation over top speaks to your mind.”

Chameleon Project have been doing a bit of improv off– stage lately, too, launching a new record label (Reptile Vision Records) and finding a replacement for original bassist, Jamie Kidd, who left CP to focus on production and DJing.

To fill Kidd’s space in a band with such a multi–faceted sound required “a very particular type of bassist,” Laing says, “one that could handle jazz standards, drum and bass and breaks feels, but also understood the bass principles of dub. That bassist ended up being the very capable Snappy Homefry from Toronto, who is fitting in perfectly. We’ve been rehearsing like crazy, and the Pepper Jack gig comes hot on the heels of our vinyl release at the El Mocambo in Toronto, which went amazing…”

Speaking of Pepper Jack’s, what can you expect if you make it out this weekend? “Lots of groove and phat beats,” Lang lists. “Thoughtful improvisations and interesting textures. Music that digs in and gets urgent, and then becomes flowing and pastoral, sometimes in one song. A type of modern psychedelia played by jazz musicians on acid, to sum up. In essence, a cool party where we just happen to be playing. The overall vibe is paramount. We also enjoy doing original arrangements of choice cover songs along with our own originals. Oh, and one more curveball—we’re all instrumental.” As noted at the start of all this, that’s the kind of curveball you can’t help but want to catch sometimes. For more info, you can check out CP on the web at, strangely enough, chameleonproject.com.

Techno Meets Jazz

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TECHNO MEETS JAZZ
THE CHAMELEON PROJECT
By Janine Toms

from the April 8, 2004 issue of Echo Weekly:

Connecting the dots between two musical worlds, The Chameleon Project brings musical diversity to the monotony of the mainstream world.

Forming in 2002, bass player Jamie Kidd was the final member in this four-piece ensemble. Products of the music programs at Humber College and York University, the members of the band are in their mid–20s, but you wouldn’t know it from their influences, which include Ben Webster, Buddy Rich, Charles Mingus and Herbie Hancock.

Each player has his own preference, which keeps their compositions unexpected and constantly changing.

“We all bring in different influences, so it’s easy to hear jazz, funk and reggae within one tune,” says Kidd about the chameleon nature of a band, whose name gives some indication of their musical concept. “It represents how we evolve and change constantly throughout our music.”

The group has successfully fused the classic workings of old school jazz with the fresh rhythm of new–age techno. Kidd says he’s always enjoyed playing jazz, and began drawing similarities when listening to techno music.

“I started at jazz and then I was listing to techno, which brought me back to jazz.” This unlikely fusion seems natural in the band’s able hands with break beats and bass grooves riding underneath guitarist Josh Laing’s palette of electronica. Using samples and effects Laing’s playing sits almost beyond the far reaches of jazz, just an arm’s length away from convention. Sounding like John Scofield one minute, and a club dj the next, Laing pushes Chameleon into new territory. The Chameleon Project released their independent album, Stereoscope, in November 2003. The band produced the record in, well, record time.

“The entire album took only one day,” assures Kidd. Most of the nine tracks on the release were recorded live, with no overdubs. The song “Broken Glass” quickly gives an indication of the band’s abilities. Laing’s wah pedal grooves and trigger–like time changes are tightly followed by beats from drummer Tyrone Caissie. And the tune “So What Else?” offers guitar driven melody, followed up with pulse–pumping chords by keyboardist Adam Hutchison.

Chameleon’s live performance has a contagious high energy — innocent foot tapping quickly leads to potentially hazardous, full–out grooves. And for a gigging band it is surprising that they only five or six formal songs. Instead of bulked up setlists they thrive on free–form improvisation and the occasional funk–induced cover. Because of their jamband roots, a song will never sound the same twice. In addition, each of their sets is played out seamlessly, with one song blending into the next.

“We try to create a continuous flow, like a dj would, and mix elements from various tracks together to create a link between them,” explains Kidd.

The abilities of the players are continuously pushed, as they jam out every tune. Their stage presence offers show goers the chance to get a look at what each player is up to.

“There’s no real focal point, or front man,” said Kidd. In fact, the group attempts to merge itself with its spectators. “We just want to be playing as part of the audience.”

After submitting their cd, The Chameleon Project was selected to perform at this summer’s Distillery Jazz Festival in Toronto. A ten–day event, the group will be one of few Toronto acts to be playing on stage in the category of electronic/jazz.

In the meantime, they are looking to broaden their fan base outside of the big city with performances lined up in Windsor and Hamilton.

Check out their website, www.chameleonproject.com, for music samples, where to buy the album, and up–and–coming gigs. Or even better, come out and see The Chameleon Project’s take on modern jazz, with dj Syrum at Jimmy Jazz in Guelph on Friday April 9th.

CD Review for Stereoscopic

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CD Review for ‘Stereoscopic’
from the December 2003 issue of Tribe Magazine:

This four-piece fuses drum and bass, dub and jazz in a live setting.
Most of the tracks on this release were recorded live with no overdubs, and the result is impressive.
Innovative and hypnotic grooves meet tight instrumentation.
I gotta give a special shout-out to their drummer, who must be a cyborg to keep up some of the frenetic percussion going on.

Their overall sound can be described as follows:
If you were living in a 1970s vision of “The Future” (think Logan’s Run, Rollerball or Star Blazers),
this is the band that would be playing in the spaceport departure lounge as you prepare to rocket off for a weekend of zero gravity golf.

Welcome to the Chameleon Project

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WELCOME THE CHAMELEON PROJECT
By Richard Rizok

from the April 2004 issue of Upfront Magazine:

For over a decade now, CJAM 91.5 FM has taken one night out of the year to honour its dedicated volunteers to campus community radio. This year is no different, so on Saturday, April 17th; CJAM is pleased to welcome all volunteers, loyal listeners and music fans to join the festivities at The Avalon Front. The award show will begin at 8pm until roughly 11pm when the stage will be cleared for one of Toronto’s hottest live acts The Chameleon Project. Tribe Magazine has described The Chameleon Project’s sound as, “If you were living in a 1970s vision of “the Future” (think Logan’s Run, Rollerball or Star Blazers), this is the band that would be playing in the spaceport departure lounge as you prepare to rocket off for a weekend of zero gravity golf.” Upfront made a trip out to Toronto to talk with the talented guitarist from The Chameleon Project, Josh Laing, about the band, their sound and what we can expect from their first live show in Windsor.

Upfront: How did the band come together?

JL: We’re all graduates of various Jazz programs. I went to York and got my degree there, then to Humber and did some graduate studies. While I was leaving York I had the idea of putting together an improvised combo based on the theoretical principals of Jazz but more rhythm-centric, based on electronic music and the propulsive beats therein. So I started getting like-minded people together to try to find the right people and the right chemistry to do that. I struggled with that at York, but once I got to Humber I really pushed for it. That is where I met Tyrone Caissie through a friend, that’s our drummer, and we started organizing improvisation combos using the principles I learned at York. I studied free improvisation and free jazz at York and applied those principles to tonal music. I worked with Tyrone, a sax player named Shawn and bass player named Liam. As we kept going, everyone but Tyrone fell by the wayside. At the same time I had met Adam Hutchison, our keyboard player, at one of my Free Jazz workshops at York. So when his band fell apart he expressed interest in playing keys for us, and came on board. We struggled along without a bassist for a while until a friend recommended Jamie Kidd, our current bass player, not only because he went to Humber but he also spent a lot of time programming and spinning techno. He had that background as well as a jazz background, so we had that understanding. At the core of it all is Jazz, Electronic music, reggae, dub and how those foundations work together.

Upfront: How would you describe your sound?

JL: It’s kind of its own hybrid. People like words to describe music so we call it breakbeat dub-jazz. Jazz is really at the core of what is going on here but we want to make it more engaging than simple swing feel in Jazz where the bass is keeping more of the time than the drums, so we’ve changed it around to make it more of a break-beat which is more propulsive, putting the drums out front. So really anything from uptempo funky breaks, new breaks, to laid back funk, drum and bass or trip hop depending on what the mood of the song takes. These are anchored throughout by dub, which lays down the hard bass allowing us to experiment electronically and leave a lot of space for the jam to breathe and groove in a minimal way with that upbeat reggae thing that keeps everything moving along.

Upfront: Your album “Stereoscopic” received a very favorable review in Tribe magazine. How would you describe the reaction so far to the bands first release?

JL: The reaction I have gotten from the album has been overwhelmingly good. Even record labels we sent it to in the US, who don’t have time for us, say they like it and it sounds very professional, which is good. They like the music but they don’t know who we are, so they’re not ready to step out with it. At least they like it. The only response I have gotten from people who are close to the band is: “the album is good but your live stuff is so much more advanced from what it is on the album.”

Upfront: As a live band with four members playing traditional instruments (drum, bass, guitar, keys), what makes you electronic?

JL: If you’re trying to play electronic music you have to think about it a different way, you don’t think of it as I’m playing this tune and then I go to this cord, you think in loops. It’s very static in terms of harmony, but what electronic music is concerned with is sound texture. How the sound looks. It’s not whether you’re playing an E, but what that E sounds like. Does it sound nasty or dirty or does that E sound really funky. It’s like a bunch of little pieces, like little loops working together. Then the music becomes more about a group sound, a drone sound. It’s not like there’s a bass and a guitar, it is as if we’re all working as one machine and that is very much how electronic music works. The sounds we use often mimic vintage effects to create textures or sound colours heard in jungle, dub, techno or whatever. That was often what troubled me about jazz. These talented players always had great tone but only one tone. To me that’s only playing in one dimension, you make music in terms of the traditional sense, organizing notes, but you can also create in terms of sound textures.

Upfront: Whom would you identify as your major influences?

JL: Seeing how I’m just one person I can only speak to my own influences but I kind of know what the rest of bands’ are as well. I’m heavily influenced by jazz guitarists like Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Melvin Sparks and Boogaloo Joe Jones. A lot of the soul-jazz guitarists that have a lot of blues and grit but also have the chops to play over changes. That’s the kind of phrasing I listen to a lot. However, I’ve also listened to a lot of Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia and his melodic ideas and his inventiveness has influenced me tremendously and of course where would I be without the innovations of dub pioneer King Tubby. Jamie is very influenced by jazz, by people like Mingus and Chuck Rainey, but has a deep love for Swedish and Detroit Techno. He is a techno and breaks DJ in his spare time. Adam is influenced by reggae like Linvel Thomson, Jackie Mittoo, and Winston Riley, but also listens to a lot of Herbie Hancock. Tyrone went to Humber as well so he’s heavily influenced by jazz drummers like; Shelly Mann and Philly Joe Jones but he’s also very into drum and bass, Amon Tobin and of course reggae greats Sly and Robbie have influenced his conception of playing.

Warm, cinematic and highly textured

“…they do a stellar job making music that is warm, cinematic and highly textured.” ~ Errol …

Stereoscopic Review By Cheryl Thompson

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The Chameleon Project is a local Toronto-based drum & bass/dub band. With the release of Stereoscopic, they hope to encroach upon the burgeoning electronic scene in the city. An instrumental album, Stereoscopic has just the right mix of drum & bass and rub-a-dub style beats to keep things interesting. No doubt, this group, which consists of Tryone Caissie, drums; Jamie Kidd, bass; Adam Hutchison, keys and Josh Laing, guitar/sampling, would lay down a killer live set. This album would make a great ambiance setter to an evening with friends or a chill-out backdrop to a lounge atmosphere. Not yet signed to a nation-wide distribution label, Stereoscopic is only available online on the band’s website. There’s a light shinning at the end of the Chameleon Project’s tunnel — they’re just waiting for the fans to flick the switch. So, turn on the light as this group is worth a closer look. (Independent)