Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker
|Also known as||USS|
|Genres||Alternative dance, Drum and bass, Electronica|
|Instruments||Guitar, Erhu, Turntables, Electronic instrumentation/programming|
|Labels||Smashing World Records|
Jason "Human Kebab" Parsons
USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) is an alternative dance musical duo that began working out of Parkdale, a neighbourhood situated in the west end of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The band is composed of vocalist, guitarist and erhu player Ashley Buchholz (aka Ash Boo-Schultz) and turntablist/hype man Jason "Human Kebab" Parsons.
The USS sound is a mixture of drum and bass beats, grunge-like guitar riffs and 2-step rhythms. "We like to call what we do the campfire after-party," Ash said, "It's like you're at Nirvana Unplugged but there's a drum and bass party and glow sticks all around you."
USS hails from the outskirts of the Greater Toronto Area, Ash being from the city of Markham and Kebab from the adjacent town of Stouffville. They met in 2004, while stocking the beer fridge and discussing music when they worked at a golf course; the pair hit it off instantaneously. A couple of months later, Ash's sister was looking for someone to DJ at her upcoming wedding and Human Kebab was suggested for the job. "It was love at first scratch" Ash said, who later moved into Kebab's parents' basement to begin experimenting musically.
The band's name came about when Ash sketched out map of exactly who he wanted to be in life. At the top of this life-plan he wrote, "Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker." Although this title was to become the band’s moniker, the duo says that the name is for everyone: “It's singular — it's the title of a characteristic, not the title of two guys”, Ash said.
“Opportunity exists as a result of what you’re putting out to the world,” said Kebab.
They hadn't predicted the success that was to follow the EP’s release. The band parted ways to pursue different avenues; Kebab went west, to the province of Alberta to work on an oil pipeline and Ash went south, to the US, on an emotional pilgrimage. Everything changed when a friend of Kebab's called to report that Toronto radio station 102.1 The Edge had put their first single, Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole, into heavy rotation. The duo then returned to Toronto, to shoot their first video for Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole which was soon featured across Canada on the MuchMusic channel.
Shortly after the destruction in Haiti took place, Toronto's alternative performers came together on Feb. 2, 2010, at The Sound Academy, for the 102.1 The Edge sponsored Toronto Plays For Haiti benefit. USS headlined the event, alongside Choclair, The Salads, Die Mannequin, The Trews and Moneen. That evening, on impulse, Human Kebab played DJ to Canadian Hip-hop legend, Maestro Fresh Wes. (Round two of the USS/Maestro mash-up happened at Wakestock 2010, in Collingwood, Ontario.)
March/April was all about the Highway to Health tour. USS headlined Western Canada, from Barrie to British Columbia, with The Stables, a Durham Region band, along for the ride as direct support.
USS brought home their second consecutive COCA Award (Canadian Organization of Campus Activities) for Emerging Artist, (Winner of Emerging Artist Award 2009/2010), on June 25, 2010.
In September, Smirnoff launched their most ambitious “Be There” campaign ever, the Nightlife Exchange Project. The countries that participated, Canada, USA, Great Britain, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, Ireland, Lebanon, Poland, South Africa, Thailand and Venezuela all exchanged their culture with another country, and on Nov. 27, the world partied "together." USS were named as the Canadian curators, to deliver Canadian nightlife to India.
Human Kebab explains, "To truly experience Canadian nightlife, you need a curator that's all about its awesomeness, and we are honoured and proud to be asked by Smirnoff to accept this role. Having toured our great nation from coast to coast we have rocked hard with Canadians nightly for many years now, so we're stoked to fill our crate with every inch of our country and show our exchange city how it's done."
In October, mid-campaign, USS flew to Mumbai, India to truly experience the culture. Human Kebab spoke to Eye Weekly about the experience: “We started off by going to a few really well-known spots in Mumbai, like the Indus restaurant in the Hotel Diplomat, right beside the Taj Mahal Hotel, which of course was attacked by terrorists in 2008. We also saw the Leopold Café and Café Mondegar, which are their own version of what you might see here in North America. For the sake of the United Kingdom, we got to go to the Manchester United bar. And then we went to a club, a real hot spot for dance music called the blueFROG where you have to go through metal detectors to enter the bar, which was amazing and strange.”
USS merged their progressive dance-folk flavour with eastern bad-boy Ashley MacIsaac’s fiery story-telling fiddle, and in November, USS released the single "Mavericks", a lyrical throwback to the notoriously dangerous big-break wave in Northern California. The single is riddled with underlying metaphors, asking the listener to realize their own impossible task; "Mavericks" is Jeff Clark’s dream, applied to your own life (Clark is famous for surfing the wave for 15 years before it was widely discovered).
The wide scale audience singalongs and dancefloor pandemoniums are sure to continue. USS are singing and scratching up new storms, alongside producer Tawgs Salter (Lights, Elliot Yamin, Josh Groban). The studio's secluded sanctuary allows for frequent intermissions of wandering the woods, wishing on stars, and quiet moments of self-reflection.
USS’s new single, N/A OK, released on February, 14, 2011 - Valentine’s Day – across Canada. 102.1 The Edge, in Toronto was the first to jump on the trail, with legendary DJ Alan Cross once again supporting the band.
In an interview with Eye Weekly, Human Kebab elaborates on what USS has been working on:
“It’s amazing. We’re working with Tawgs Salter, who’s done records with Lights, The Midway State and Josh Groban, and he’s been helping us define what the new USS is, from a songwriting perspective. We’re free to be quirky, acoustic, singer-songwriter, electronic turntable-based music, but in a bigger sounding format that has global aspirations. We’ve returned more to the minimal that we showed on our first EP, Welding The C:/, but we’re doing it with the right producer, to make it sound as big and powerful as we can be. At the start of the year we did a song with Ashley MacIsaac, and we followed that with what’s hopefully going to become our new EP.” 
In an interview with Niagara Music Scene, Ash explains the EP's title: "Approved, because it seems like everyone has issues of self-worth. YOU'RE ALL GOOD ENOUGH! Most of life is just overcompensation for not feeling like you are good enough. APPROVED!
The new EP entitled, “USS Approved,” was released digitally worldwide on May 3, 2011, the day of the album release party at Toronto's MOD Club + the kick-off date for the "USS Approved" Spring/Summer Cross-Canada tour. The physical copy is available exclusively in Canada, at the merch booth on tour or on their official site.
On Saturday August 20, USS played at Budweiser Canada's fifth annual Bud Camp.
On September 21, USS revealed their official live drummer, Matthew Murphy, at their Kingston, Ontario show.
By the end of summer 2011, the second single from their record "USS APPROVED" - Yo Hello Hooray (Everyday) - popped up all over Canadian rock radio stations. This song is the bands highest charting rock radio single in Canada to date.
N/A OK is nominated in the 'Rock' format at the 2012 Canadian Radio Music Awards.
In February, USS' second single from "USS APPROVED", 'Yo Hello Hooray (Everyday), appears on Degrassi, Season 11, Episode 32.
The band's third single from "USS APPROVED" - Damini - hits Canadian rock radio charts.
In April, the NHL Network on NHL.com featured Damini for their XM Plays of the Week.
At the end of May, USS travelled to Singapore to play five shows as a part of Music Matters 2012.
During the summer, Damini hits number one three times in the Modern Rock Countdown on Sonic 102.9 FM in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.
In August, USS traveled to Europe to support fellow Canadian band Walk off the Earth on their sold out tour there.This tour took the band to Germany,Austria,The Netherlands,France and the United Kingdom.
On June 4th, USS released This Is The Best, the first single off of their "Advanced Basics" record.
USS released "Advanced Basics" in Canada on February 11, 2014.
Welding the C:/
The band's EP, Welding the C:/, was released July 30, 2008 and became a hot seller across Canada. After the video for Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole started airing regularly on MuchMusic, the band was offered a music video production grant from VideoFACT to do a partially animated video for the follow-up single, 2 15/16 - which also found its way onto the MuchMusic charts.
On May 30, 2008 the band headlined 102.1 The Edge's Next Big Thing Concert Series, to a record-setting capacity crowd of over 2600 people. The pair performed at the 2008 World Electronic Music Festival and were also the opening act on the main stage of the annual new-music festival, Edgefest, held by 102.1 The Edge. August 2008 saw the duo opening at the Cutting Edge Music Festival in Grand Bend Ontario.
On Sep 16, 2008 the duo performed live on MTV Canada. By October 22, 2008, USS won both of the CASBY Awards for which they were nominated: Best New Artist, and Best New Single, for the song Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole. In winning the 'as voted by fans' awards, USS bested the likes of Bedouin Soundclash, Sam Roberts, Die Mannequin and Tokyo Police Club.
Welding the C:/ track list:
- "2 15/16" (3:34)
- "Hollow Point Sniper Hyperbole" (3:43)
- "Drop Around The Clock" (3:12)
- "Form Onederful" (3:19)
- "Pornostartrek" (4:16)
- The original version of the EP contained the song "Turquoise 1:11", but later versions have "The Honeypot".
USS released their first full length album Questamation, through their independent label, Smashing World Records, on Mar 9, 2009. For the recording, USS teamed up again with Matthew Von Wagner (Crystal Castles, Alpha Galates) for production and engineering, while Chris Davies and Charles Topping 'aided musically'. Music engineer Bob Ludwig was recruited to master the original album in Portland, Maine. James Black of Finger Eleven is featured playing guitar on "P.S. I Can Change".
Parallel to the album release, USS created the video for Laces Out, which followed onto MuchMusic in March 2009
USS won the award for Favourite Group/Duo at the CMW Indie Awards on March 14, 2009 in Toronto. During their performance, the duo lit up the stage with a high-energy set, complete with handstands and full-size cardboard cutouts of Barack Obama and Einstein. The duo sat down and talked to Gene Simmons of Kiss in Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern after meeting at a local radio station.
During the holiday season of 2008, USS found themselves touring the Western provinces for a second time. Come March 18 and 19, 2009, USS crossed the border to showcase in the RedGorilla Music Fest, in Texas. USS made their way to Los Angeles to play the Viper Room March 31, 2009 and continued on to New York City's Mercury Lounge on April 6, 2009. Between April 14–25, 2009, the duo returned to play Western Canada, this time performing at the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival, April 21 in Whistler, British Columbia.
In honour of the Questamation album, USS hosted their 'Let's Get Weird' concert to a variety of artists at Toronto's Sound Academy on May 1, 2009. Describing the evening, Human Kebab said, "It's our official hello to the world." Up first were The Good Times, contest winners from Etobicoke, Ontario, followed by 15-year old rockers from the US, Crooked X. Blackie Jackett Jr's set was next featuring James Black and Rick Jackett from Finger Eleven. USS finished the night with singing, smoothies and a volcano.
Below is the track listing of Questamation:
- "Cloudboy" (3:56)
- "Laces Out" (2:33)
- "P.S. I Can Change" (4:49)
- "Anti-Venom" (3:47)
- "Neurochemical Warfare Gas Masquerade" (4:19)
- "Stationery Robbery" (2:58)
- "Better Living Centre" (1:14)
- "3 Purple Butterflies" (3:31)
- "Stranger to Myself" (4:15)
- "Man Makes The Zoo" (5:08)
- "Visionary Science Patrol" (4:37)
- "Me vs Us" (19:03) *11 minutes of meditation included.
Approved is an EP released by USS. The band released their 2nd extended play on May 3, 2011. Below is the track listing:
- “Yo Hello Hooray (Everyday)” (3:47)
- “Damini” (4:07)
- “Heaven on Mars” (3:20)
- “Prefontaine” (3:32)
- “Minus Me” (3:15)
- “N/A OK” (3:22)
- “K.I.T.” (4:10)
- "Hydrogenuine" (3:55)
- "This Is The Best" (2:58)
- "Nepal" (3:27)
- "Freakquency" (4:16)
- "Shipwreck" (3:56)
- "Yin Yang" (3:14)
- "Built To Break" (3:49)
|2008||"Hollow Point Sniper Hyperbole"||—||×||Welding the C:/|
|2011||"N/A OK"||—||8||USS Approved|
|"Yo Hello Hooray (Everyday)"||—||7|
|2013||"This Is The Best"||75||3||Advanced Basics|
|"—" denotes a release that did not chart.
"×" denotes periods where charts did not exist or were not archived.
- Artist bio on MuchMusic.com Last accessed Mar 11, 2009
- Carey, Steve, “Good old fashioned Victoria block party”, Victoria Times Colonist, Aug 17, 2008 Last accessed Mar 11, 2009
- Arbour, Ross, “Band needs your help”, yorkregion.com, Oct 17, 2008 Last accessed Jun 4, 2011
- Interview for Crave TV Last accessed Mar 11, 2009
- Paul, Andrew, “Vocab Junkies”, See Magazine, Aug 14, 2008 Last accessed Mar 11, 2009
- Mavericks (location)
- Alexisonfire, Arkells And IllScarlett To Play Cutting Edge Music Festival Last accessed June 12, 2009
- MTV Canada performance, Sept 16, 2008 Last accessed Mar 11, 2009
- 2008 CASBY Award Winners Last accessed Mar 11, 2009
- "USS Ready To Be Ubiquitous Again", ChartAttack, Jan 27, 2009 Last accessed Mar 11, 2009
- "U.S.S. Questamation", Kill The 8 Merch Last accessed June 12th, 2009
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