When singer-songwriter Alex Farr first released music under the name Justmadnice in July of 2021, the title of the project was quite apropos. Small is a short EP of five introspective songs, most featuring only Farr’s warm and emotive voice, their electric guitar, slight flourishes of trumpet and other instrumentation, and a lot of open space.
The six-piece band that visited WXPN studios for JMN’s Key Studio Session is, as Farr put it while we set up, a massive transformation from those humble beginnings — it’s expansive, immersive, loud and transcendent. Taking Justmadnice’s indie-folk roots, their bandmates have launched them into the realm of blues-dipped psychedelic jazz; and that’s only the beginning.
“With Small, I released that with the intent of letting go of those smaller feelings,” Farr says of moving from candid emotional vignettes to turbulent storytelling with their work. “Creating larger music was part of this path.”
Farr says they’ve always been attracted to louder and more dynamic songwriting; they cite Wye Oak’s “Civilian” as a piece they aspire to compositionally, and name Moses Sumney and serpentwithfeet. as other sources of inspiration. Farr particularly loves the idea of bringing an element of “psuedo-organized chaos” into their work. They connected with their bandmates — Erik Kramer on bass, Alyssa Almeida on cello, Keaton Thandi on drums, Mark Menk on guitar, Marty Gottlieb-Hollis on trumpet — organically through the scene, and had an instant chemistry. “I feel like having met who I’ve met, we’re all such talented musicians, we can show up in a space together, and usually it comes out beautifully.”