Hundred Waters off to successful start 

click to enlarge Hundred Waters
  • courtesy photo
  • Art rockers Hundred Waters' new CD is “The Moon Rang Like a Bell.”
Nicole Miglis is quite the reluctant rock star. The vocalist-keyboardist-flautist for the ethereal Hundred Waters didn't plan to record an eponymous 2012 debut, or have it snapped up by Sonny Moore (aka DJ Skrillex) as the inaugural release on his label.

Miglis, who appears with the band Tuesday at the Independent, merely was trying to finish her first folksy solo album when her three Gainesville, Fla., housemates invited her to contribute to experimental tracks they were working on.

"We didn't really set out to form a band or anything," she says. "But through those two songs, we serendipitously ended up working on what wound up being 12 or 13. It was strange how that happened."

After a trial by fire on Skrillex's "Full Flex Express" tour across Canada, Hundred Waters coalesced, and recorded an even edgier sophomore CD, "The Moon Rang Like a Bell."

The album's distinctive sound features waves of somber synth textures, often accompanied by jagged percussion, and Miglis' fluttering voice, which sometimes settles into Philip Glass-school repetition (as on the single "Murmurs").

"With our first record, I knew that we made something that we were proud of and I myself felt like it was pretty special," says Miglis, who now resides in Los Angeles with her band. "But to be honest, I was surprised that a lot of people liked it, because I thought it was pretty complex. I knew that we made something different, but I didn't really know if anybody was going to listen to it."

That made keeping the cutting-edge flame alive on "Bell" hard work.

Even the "Bell" cover art proved stressful. The members deliberated on it forever, then – four days before deadline – guitarist Trayer Tryon sent a Picasso-meets-Flintstones sketch from Orlando to Miglis in L.A., and she painted in warm colors.

"That's very similar to how we work, musically," she says. "We all have our hands in it, and everybody's contributing what they're most interested in. And I'm the resident flautist, like Ron Burgundy, but I'm also good with songwriting, its assembly and form."

Miglis, who earned a fine arts degree from the University of Florida in piano performance, also played improvisational keyboards for modern dance classes, which helped her in Hundred Waters.

"I had to play very rhythmically and riff off of what the dancers were doing, and be constantly aware of what the teacher wanted," she says. "So I learned a lot about making music on the spot."

IF YOU GO

Hundred Waters

Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: $12 to $14

Contact: (415) 771-1421, www.ticketfly.com

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Tom Lanham

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