Before heading into the studio to record their latest EP, Perception, Eugene electro-swing ensemble High Step Society was emerging from a difficult transition in personnel, says bandleader Ethan Rainwater, despite winning Eugene Weekly’s Best of Eugene Best Band category just last year.
High Step Society brought in singer Betty Jaeger — one of Eugene’s best voices. Jaeger is also known for her own work with groups like Baroque Betty, among many others. “She really stepped up,” Rainwater says.
With a new singer in place, High Step was finally ready to record its new EP. Out now, Perception is the popular live band’s third studio release, and the first for Austin record label Gravitas Recordings.
Popular in Europe and increasingly in the U.S., electro-swing blends traditional jazz and swing with house music, EDM and hip hop — like 1920s-era, dance-all-night hot jazz meeting the synthetic pulse of an Ibiza nightclub.
This may seem like a contradiction, but with High Step tracks like “Perception,” it starts making sense, as the two styles gel and induce a kind of fevered reverie.
The COVID-19 lockdown has offered few options for an EP-release celebration, so instead, High Step live-streamed a show from the Whiteaker Firehouse, an ever-evolving artist grotto in Eugene, where portions of the EP were also recorded.
Although the show was a ton of work, “the end product was top notch,” Rainwater says. “We were all so excited to do a show after being holed up in our separate quarantines. It was a big release.”
Rainwater says the future looks bright for High Step Society. The band is already working on new material. “We’ve been incredibly productive during this time,” Rainwater says, while also fielding offers for more live streaming.
“Stay tuned,” Rainwater says.
Perception is available to stream on all major music streaming services. High Step Society’s EP release live stream is archived on the band’s YouTube channel.