Different strokes by different folks: music, marketing and the making of SLC band Girrafic Jam

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By FRANCES MOODY

Salt Lake City, the city of churchgoers, upstanding families and bar hoppers. Yes, bar hoppers. Salt Lake City’s nightlife hustles and bustles with enthusiastic bar goers ready to be swept away by friendly bartenders, intoxicating drinks and, most of all, electric music.

Lined up and down the streets of the city’s distinctive grid system, which spreads out from the LDS Temple, are bars that showcase jaw-dropping tunes created by talented artists. Among these artists is the band, Girrafic Jam. Formerly known as Hekyll n’ Jive, Girrafic Jam strives to create a new music and business strategy that will keep the bar flies content, yet attract a more diverse crowd.  After sitting down to eat at a crowded Asian restaurant located off State Street in Salt Lake City, Marshall Jones (lead guitarist) Kyle McCann (bass guitarist) explained how their stratagem would work.

Viewing their music as both art and product, Girrafic Jam works to form an effective business strategy that will ensure its success. “We [Girrafic Jam] think of our music as a business, and are planning it from there,” Jones said.

In business terms, the band members aim to prove their product—the music– valuable. How will the band accomplish such a feat and reach the top of the metaphorical skyscraper of success? Hopefully, they will accomplish this task by rethinking and reinventing the local music scene’s expectations. Though the process has commenced, Girrafic Jam waits in the fledging stages of its long climb to the top.

Girrafic Jam’s first stop on the elevator of reinvention came with the addition of two new members: already mentioned bass guitarist, Kyle McCann, and drummer, Courtney Thomas. As a result, Girrafic Jam moved to the first floor of success. “ We are in the works of making our plan of attack,” McCann said as he stared at a mountain of fried rice and chicken on his plate.

McCann and Thomas carried a refreshing tone to the band’s music. This invigorating sound sparked Girrafic Jam’s idea to create a new product. In most cases, changed products call for changed names. Following in the footsteps of companies like Google (once called BackRub), Hekyll n’ Jive transformed into Girrafic Jam.

Girrafic Jam realizes it is not the first product or band to recreate itself. For instance, the band pulls inspiration from other bands’ approaches and sounds, rather than mimicking them. The band describes its style as “[an] infusion of Red Hot Chili Pepper-like grooves, saucy Incubus-style melodies, combined with the sting and sway of Stevie Ray Vaughn type fretwork, and the flow of ambient tirades ala Minus the Bear,” as advertised on former Hekyll n’Jive’s Facebook page.

Perhaps Girrafic Jam’s eclectic sound is the best example of the band’s muses and inspiration. Front man Neil Olsen plays the saxophone, which helped music break away from the staccato sound of humdinger tunes and into the boisterous blasts of jazz. Girrafic Jam utilizes music’s history to mesh genres of music and create unheard, yet mesmerizing melodies, such as the band’s song “Got The Spirit” When heard, the song’s sentimental lyrics and heart-racing solos magnetize the crowd’s hands together in uproarious applause.

Innovative forms of music are important to Girrafic Jam, but so is creating a product that people love. A prized product must be advertised in the right way. With that in mind, the band investigates new forms and arenas for their marketing campaigns.

In Salt Lake City, most bands feel that the best way to sell their music is to play as many gigs at as many bars as possible. Girrafic Jam holds a different opinion altogether. They hope to break away from this local music stipulation through a process of selection.

While performing late at night in dimly lit bars goes against Utah’s societal expectations, to Girrafic Jam, it also creates restrictions. Every Friday night the Metal Gods woo girls with teased hair by performing chart-topping 80s hits at a suburban Salt Lake County bar, Liquid Joe’s. To some, cover songs are fun and alluring. To others, they only offer one side of a band’s talent.

Being family men, Jones and Olsen maintain a hectic schedule to uphold their family oriented lifestyles, while Courtney and McCann strive to improve their musical talents in other ways. Having busy schedules and diverse lifestyles, the band opted to highlight original numbers at fewer shows, as an alternative to selling cover song after cover song like Metal Gods.

The band trusts that this method will attract a more eclectic audience and fashion a more valuable sound.  “A yearning for listening within the audience is more important than doing a weekly gig,” McCann said.

What’s more, Girrafic Jam’s campaign is in the process of social networking and forming a vast Internet presence.  They have connected themselves to several websites, such as Facebook and YouTube. With a well-rounded marketing crusade, Girrafic Jam is sure to attract the wandering eyes of many Internet users and music lovers alike.

One day, Girrafic Jam’s business scheme and innovative force into the music scene may prove successful. Today many of their fans see the end in sight. Perhaps, in the near future, people will line up to hear the exploding sound of Girrafic Jam echoing from the roof of skyscraper success.

“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. We find inspiration and implement it into what we are creating [whether it is music or marketing]… That’s what will hopefully help us succeed,” Jones said, after picking up a pot sticker with his fork and placing it on McCann’s plate.

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