Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Watch the Synth-Chili Cook-Off founders play a synth and make chili

Posted By on 02.12.14 at 10:23 AM

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Synthesizers and chili go together like . . . well, like nothing else really. The pairing is as strange as it is ridiculous, and that's kind of the point of the Synth-Chili Cook-Off, in which four musicians will each make a chili and perform an original "sonic interpretation" of it using a synthesizer—it's a real thing, and it's happening Sunday at the Empty Bottle. The absurdity of the event isn't lost on the founders, Brett Naucke (Catholic Tapes) and Beau Wanzer (Streetwalker, Mutant Beat Dance), and I'm reminded of something Naucke told me when I wrote a feature-length preview of the first Synth-Chili Cook-Off:

"There's no way you can do this and not be humorous," he says. "I'm not going to deny that it's just a totally fucking stupid idea. It's just awesome."

That was in 2011, and this weekend is the fourth run of the cook-off—clearly there are people who think the idea is awesome enough to keep showing up each consecutive year, and as I recall last year's event was mobbed. To get ready for this year's cook-off I teamed up with Luca Cimarusti and a couple of our talented videographers to interview Naucke and Wanzer at the latter's apartment, where we discussed how they came up with such a ludicrous performance-slash-contest, listened to a delightful synthesizer ditty about the foodstuffs from 1980 (it's Claude Larson's "Hot Chili," if you're curious), and chowed down on some chili. Really, I kind of just went to eat some chili, which hit the spot on a particularly cold Sunday. We asked Naucke and Wanzer for a recipe, but they made it up as they went along (or "followed their hearts," if you will) and couldn't recall the precise amount of navy beans and chocolate (yep) they included—trust me when I say it was delicious. Anyway, take a peek at our interview below:

The fourth annual Synth-Chili Cook-Off kicks off at 7 PM on Sunday; Travis Thatcher, Michael Perkins, Diana Luck, and Ben Billington will vie for the audiences' votes to see who will take home the prized peanut trophy and a chance to perform in next year's cook-off. The-Drum's Jeremiah Meece will DJ once it all wraps up. Be sure to get there early in order to try every last chili, witness all the sets, and make an informed decision at the cook-off poll.

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