The “Cor” collective teases their production
Echavox and friends provide a preview of their fully realized multimedia experience. | Maxwell Heilman/THE CHIMES
The lights went out, and the crowd quieted as Andrew Eastman and Ryan Kozycz, junior philosophy major, took the stage to show their friends, family and supporters the fruits of their labor. Although only showing a tip of the iceberg, the first live experience of “Cor” left audience members engrossed and wanting more.
Since I first heard Andrew Eastman perform as Echavox at a small DIY show in La Puente, I knew his approach went far beyond the usual DJ set format. His uncanny knack for creating otherworldly atmospheres and laying down battering beats set him apart enough already, but his recent collaborations with Kozycz have brought his delivery to some of its most memorable heights.
Exchavox has since dove into its most daunting task of his career — a musical called “Cor.” The production’s preview night gives a small taste of how it inflates the compelling weirdness of Eastman’s vision to truly incredible proportions.
“Cor” features almost 30 performers, technicians and stagehands working together towards a common goal. Eastman and Sara Mawcinitt share directing duties, though the former focuses more on the music and the latter choreographs and partakes in some of the dancing.
Hosted at Whittier College Memorial Chapel, friends, family and curious patrons gathered for a celebration of DIY art. As gurgling soundscapes greeted the ears of those who entered the chapel building, courtesy of the dark ambient project Cave Space, a handful of local record labels, visual artists and activist collectives offered their respective brands from behind folding tables.
It struck me how Eastman still uses this communal openness as a means of supporting independent artists of all kinds. Uninterested in drawing attention to himself, he used his event as a means of fostering a community of likeminded individuals and bringing people together through mutual appreciation of antinormative expression.
Desert Woman’s energetic indie-rock got fans on their feet, with Kozycz continuing his tradition of crowd surfing during the live-only track “Newie.” Having been a band for five years, they never missed a beat as they passed the mic back and forth and even switched instruments.
After Dirty Merlin’s hypnotic DJ set of pulsating beats and alien sound manipulations set a mood of transient introspection, the audience sat in anticipation of Eastman and company’s performance.
Playing four selections from their full musical, Echavox used a projector screen to add visual context to their music, while elaborately dressed dancers added physical representations of both Eastman’s lyrics and the plot point the songs represented. The resulting almost out-of-body multi-sensory experience still felt unified in its concept. I was grateful for the complimentary program foldout explaining how each selection fit into the overarching plot, as it allowed me to appreciate their undercurrents while enjoying them as separate pieces.
As a fantastic array of emotion barraged my senses, whether that be the staggeringly heartfelt performance of “Queen of Heaven” or the jubilant final act, it occurred to me just how incredible “Cor” has amounted to as a triumph of DIY art. This group of friends came together with a vision and have begun making it happen with the support of their community and their passion for the beautiful things in the world.
Needless to say, I left the show wanting nothing more but “Cor” in its entirety. If those involved with the project hoped to generate hype around their musical, they could not have done a better job