18-year old producer Whethan revisits Chicago’s glowing house history on “Sleepy Eyes,” featuring Elohim!



Chicago’s fallen on hard times, lately, with a massive upsurge in violence in the 21st Century (although it’s still not the most dangerous city in the United States, despite popular rumor). Chicago’s sound has followed suit, favoring the hyper-frenetic, aggressive information overload of juke/footwork and drill music, both of which can sound like hacked Gameboys taking over the pentagon, or a DDR October Revolution.

Chicago’s music in the 21st Century, for the most part, sounds tougher than the steel that used to be made there. While Chicago’s music has often had a kind of toughness and militancy about it, from the rough & tumble electric blues of early R&B, to the aggro industrial rock of Ministry and Wax Trax records, people often forget that Chicago also gave birth to House Music - perhaps the smoothest, chillest lifestyle accessory this side of a levitating air mattress.

Rewind to the ‘70s and ‘80s, and you’ll hear a much funkier, much sexier, much more hedonistic Chicago, which used to be the soulful counterpart to Detroit’s futuristic, humanity-free Techno.

In the thick of the heat of the summer, when the Windy City is likely feeling its most on-edge, we receive a chill breeze from Chicago’s Whethan, taking us back to the disco-calling, hands-in-the-air days of early House music, with the euphoric buzz of “Sleepy Eyes.”

“Sleepy Eyes” is notable in its straight delivery. “Sleepy Eyes” is not knackered, lo-fi, or even balearic house, for gosh sake! When it seems like 99% of the house producers out there are intent on trying to conjure levitating, idyllic beats out of cardboard, styrofoam, and $20 keyboards, a straight 4/4 beat and bouncing piano chords is rather refreshing - like eating a deep dish pizza after two straight years of living off of bespoke Korean fusion cuisine.

It creates the perfect framework for airy, graceful, emotional, and pure-hearted vocals from Elohim, an LA-based vocalist that is already eating up mixtapes and playlists. Elohim’s vocals have an ethereal, innocent quality, like Cocteau Twins’ Liz Frazer, or early Sneaker Pimps, a la “Six Underground” or “Spin Spin Sugar.”

youtubeWhethan and Elohim will be performing this summer at Chicago’s Lollapalooza Music Festival, so tens of thousands of festival goers are about to discover their transportative, blissed-out grooves. We here at We Are: The Guard advise getting in on the ground floor, now, before you only get to catch them at Coachella.

J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.