Shuffle: Ambient Artist High Aura'd Finds Inspiration in Northeast Ohio's Landscape

Nov 23, 2017
Originally published on November 24, 2017 5:27 am

A musician who’s relatively new to Northeast Ohio found inspiration in the landscape for his latest album. 

For this week’s Shuffle, WKSU’s Amanda Rabinowitz talked to John Kolodij of Chagrin Falls. He writes ambient music under the moniker High aura’d.

Fly fishing at Steelhead Alley

Kolodij says since moving to Northeast Ohio with his family from Rhode Island in 2015, he’s spent a lot of time at the area's prime fishing spot, Steelhead Alley, which spans the Lake Erie tributaries. His new album is called No River Long Enough Doesn’t Contain A Bend.

"I've always fished since I was a little kid but when I moved here, this area is a hotbed for fly fishing. I know it's not the most punk rock thing," he jokes. 

"It's like another love of my life -- the pedal steel guitar --- which I'm also pretty abysmal at. But I can do it well enough enough where I can land a fish and let it go and not harm it -- and basically do the same with the pedal steel."

Black Grasshopper

Kolodij says a song on the album, Black Grasshopper, was inspired by Ernest Hemingway's Nick Adams stories.

"The character, Nick Adams, is a fly fisher. This specifically is about an area that Nick goes to that is supposed to be Yosemite National Park. And there's been a forest fire and these grasshoppers are covered in soot. I feel that it touches on these environmental things, which is just something that's on my mind."

A visual component

Kolodij partnered with Cleveland-area audio-visual artist Jeremy Bible to create a video for Black Grasshopper

"He's been working on this piece for about two years, documenting Superfund sites throughout Ohio and other states -- Just man's hand upon the land.

You see this beauty and you see these algal blooms that are red and green and these vibrant colors that are not natural. And yes, it's beautiful to look at from 300 ft. up, but when you realize what it's really documenting, it's not as spectacular as it might seem."

Kolodij studied video and cinema in college. "When I play live, I love to play to video. It gives people something to get lost in, which is what I'm trying to do with a music in a way, so I think it creates a nice environment."

Angel Olsen collaboration

Kolodij also partnered with singer-songwriter Angel Olsen on the album's closer, Red Rocks. She also created a video for the song. 

"We've played together and I just thought it would be perfect for her. She really aspires to be a filmmaker and she's done a lot of her own videos."

Kolodij says he plans to continue making more music in Northeast Ohio. 

"The greatest thing is that there are some people who really look forward to whatever i might do and i know it's a small number, but I'm 100 percent cool with that. And I just try to invest in that and see what can I do. And I just don't see when I would stop."

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