Astoria band captures audiences with unique electric beats

Photo by Scott Nidermaier/NidermaierPictures.com

When Distoria takes the stage, audience members are left wondering how just three members can make so much noise and create such a unique sound.

In 2010, the Astoria alternative rock band was formed when frontwoman Helena Martin was invited to play as a solo act at B.O.M.B. Fest in Connecticut. Martin knew she wanted to make the performance special and decided to add a drummer, Cody Rahn, to her vocal and piano act.

“Immediately I said I don’t want to play by myself, I want to make this interesting,” she said.

That performance was Distoria’s first, although the group wasn’t complete until later, when Mor Mezrich joined as the bassist and audio engineer. Martin said that although she had always been involved in music on her own, she actually felt that working with other musicians allowed her to discover who she is as a musician.

The name of the group came after Martin’s younger brother was visiting her in Astoria and combined the names of Ditmars and Astoria after being told to get off at the Astoria-Ditmars subway station.

“I said that’s an awesome name, I’m going to write that down,” Martin recalled.

The trio began experimenting with electronic elements in their music, which makes Distoria what it is today, and in 2011 the band was called back to play B.O.M.B. Fest, which was headlined by musicians such as Snoop Dogg and Weezer.

Helena Martin
Helena Martin

According to Martin, it took the group about a year to learn about making the electronic tunes on a program called Ableton Live and to figure out how they would use it for Distoria. And even though they have found their unique sound, Martin said the group is always learning.

“We’re always learning, figuring out ways to do better,” she said. “It’s cool because as we uncover the limitations, the limitations let us push those limits.”

Along with their instruments, each member of the band plays an electronic element. For example, while playing the piano and singing, Martin also has a square pad in front of her that also creates sounds.

“Sometimes it sounds like there are a lot more people on stage than there are,” Martin said. “People say, ‘That’s crazy, how did you do that one song?’”

When it comes to what makes Distoria stand out from other groups, Martin said that when they hit the stage they do not just hit a play button at the beginning of the song. Each tune is either created on the spot or is physically turned on by a band member.

Because of all the different aspects of their music, the members are constantly rehearsing in Astoria, the neighborhood Martin and Mezrich call home, to make sure every beat works. Mezrich also owns his own studio in Astoria called Ears & Gears Recording.

Martin added that another thing that makes Distoria unique is that although they play hard rock music, which usually involved an electric guitar, the band does not have a guitarist. When audience members hear what sounds like a guitar, it is actually Mezrich playing his bass really high while Rahn hits bass pads on the drums to mimic the bass.

“We don’t have a guitar but we still rock pretty hard and pretty loud,” Martin said.

Martin writes all of Distoria’s lyrics from personal experiences. Her bandmates then help add the body and beats to the songs.

“If you listen to all the lyrics, you will know everything about me,” she said. “What I’m doing now with Distoria is what I’ve always intended but never knew that I intended. That’s what I always meant to have. It’s really exciting.”

Distoria released their first EP called “Periphery” in 2013 after a successful Kickstarter campaign that helped them fund the production of the five-song album, which can be found on iTunes.

They have also recently released a new single “Dark White” with a bonus track called “Lift Point.” A music video for “Dark White” is also slated to be released soon.

The band plans to have various shows in the fall and also hopes to do a mini-tour to local cities such as Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C.

In the future the group also hopes they can be part of large music festivals where more people can listen to their unique sound.

For more information on Distoria, visit www.distoriamusic.com.


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