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Columbus trio goes ape meshing classical, rap

Courtesy of Jason Matthew Moore

Powerful, live classical music might not be what you would expect to hear while strolling through Gallery Hop, but one local band delivers just that.

What you’ve just heard is The Apes. The band is scheduled to perform outside Mikey’s Late Night Slice, located at 1030 N. High St., at 8 p.m. Saturday during Gallery Hop.

The Columbus-based trio of Adrian Jusdanis on violin, Sharon Madison, who goes by the stage name Counterfeit Madison, on keyboard, and Jahrie Smith on drums, combines the use of not-so-traditional instruments and worldly styles to create a sound that can easily be described as “extremely awesome,” Smith said.

Although The Apes occasionally collaborates with rappers, the band is entirely instrumental, and the music style is often misunderstood, Madison said.

“Some people are like, ‘Oh, it’s very jazzy. No, it’s really classical. Oh, you sound like a gypsy. No, its really classical,'” she said.

Jusdanis, who is also a third-year in geography at OSU, and Madison started playing music together about two years ago during an April Gallery Hop but were playing with another drummer at the time.

“Recently, the drummer we had moved to China, so both of us came to each other and were like, ‘You know that guy Jahrie? We should get him,'” Jusdanis said. “We both wanted to add Jahrie without even talking about it.”

The trio also went by a different name when it first formed: The Shrewdness of Apes.

“We were playing for a while just at gallery hops without a band name, so I was trying to come up with one and I’ve always liked the names of groups of animals,” Jusdanis said. “People either thought it was an awesome band name or a horrible band name but had a hard time remembering it, so I said, ‘Let’s just be called The Apes.'”

Each member of the trio brings his own personal experience and taste to the band.

“My dad is from Greece, so I grew up listening to a lot of traditional Greek folk music,” Judanis said. “I’d say that’s had a big influence. I’ve also done a fair amount of traveling in South America, and I think you can hear some salsa and merengue in what I play.”

Although Jusdanis’ roots are classical violin, his individual sound is impacted by various genres, including rock and hip-hop. His biggest influences are Rodrigo y Gabriela and Dr. Dre, he said.

Smith has been playing drums since he was young because his dad is a drummer. His influences include Mos Def, Questlove, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Jewel.

“I grew up around a lot of music but I didn’t really have too much formal training,” Smith said.

Madison, who is primarily a classical pianist, is originally from Cincinnati but said the Columbus music scene is much more receptive.

“The demographic is much younger, so I think as a result, people are more open to different kinds of music,” Madison said.

Madison said bands today are afraid of stepping out and being different. If she could give advice to other musicians, it would be to not be afraid, she said.

“Even if you don’t find it here, I feel like there’s always someone in the world who wants to listen to something that you are putting out,” Madison said. “There are people out there who really like weird music and really common music, and I would just say express yourself.”

The Apes’ live performances are equally as outlandish as its eclectic mix of sounds, and Jusdanis said they are completely spontaneous.

“The stuff that we actually do for our live show, which I would say is our bread and butter, is almost entirely improvised,” he said.

Although the band is primarily classical, its performances suggest otherwise. Madison describes it as “crazy intense.”

“I think we are just a little more insane than everybody else,” Madison said.

Along with their enthusiasm while playing, Jusdanis said they have a good time with the shows.

“You can tell that the three of us really enjoy playing with each other,” Jusdanis said. “I’m like running across the stage, Jahrie is just smiling the whole time, and Sharon is doing crazy Inspector Gadget moves.”

“I like to jump around a lot, I’m really animated,” Madison said.

All three agreed they love to play house parties, but most of their shows take place at Gallery Hop in the Short North. A go-to location for the band’s live shows is Mikey’s Late Night Slice.

Adrian said the trio is at a huge yet new stage in its music.

“Some sort of regional tour within the next year is definitely a goal,” Jusdanis said. “And putting a full-length album out.”

The Apes recently released an EP, titled “The Shrewdness.”

Madison said she hopes people lose their minds when listening to the band’s music.

“I hope when people hear us play, that they stop thinking and start experiencing,” Jusdanis said.

“Yeah, and dance their f—ing asses off,” Smith added.

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