If it wasn't for Theo Huxtable, Brendon Whitney might still be living the woods of Southern Maine. Raised by a church organist/hobby store clerk and a firefighting jazz drummer on six acres of land in rural Hollis, little Bren never had cable television. It was a sad affair, and when the MTV receptors started flaring up in his 13-year-old brain, something had to be done. With only three general stores in town, the musical pickings were slim, so Bren and big sis Aubrey would stay up combing their five TV channels for some sort of sign. And that was when they found Theo, nee Malcolm-Jamal Warner, hosting NBC's 'Friday Night Videos.'
Specifically, it was Special Ed's I'm the Magnificent' that did it. A 16-year-old who wears big clothes and claims to own 74 Honda scooters is hot shit to a kid growing up where the nearest person his age lives on the other side of a small forest peppered with toothless itinerants. Bren began buying every hip-hop magazine he could find, plastering the walls of his bedroom (shared by younger brother Ehren, age 3) with torn-out pictures of rappers feverishly grabbing their crotches. His parents were unsure about the crotches, but supportive of his passion, so on Christmas of 1992 they gave him his first drum machine. Exit little Bren, enter big Alias.
Alias was a drummer in the high school band, but he was a gangster with his boom box in the woods. In 1993, a trip to the Maine Mall brought him to the feet of a real life Karl Kani-fitted hip-hop guru. Alias, 17, listened to the wisdom spoken through the then-spotty red beard and before long found himself battling in the ciphers he'd only read about. He moved his "studio" to a friend's basement, taught himself to use an MPC3000 and an ADAT machine, and-three years later-joined Sole (who'd since ditched the Karl Kani) as a member of the Live Poets.
It was in 1998, working in Minneapolis on the seminal Deep Puddle Dynamics project with Sole, Dose, and Atmosphere's Slug, that Alias realized he had no choice but to make music his entire life. He and his wife Jenn were on their way to the Laundromat when they got a copy of the finished record. They sold the car, quit their jobs, packed everything into a U-Haul and headed out west. With $300 left, they moved into an East Oakland warehouse with the rest of the Anticon's first migratory wave. Beyond the razor wire and the rabid, garbage-eating dogs, just behind the bullet holes in the plywood walls, Alias concocted his first opus-a rap-heavy, poetic and brooding introspective called The Other Side of the Looking Glass (2002).
In working on tracks for Sole's Selling Live Water, Alias found himself moving away from vinyl sampling and lyric-writing. He learned the secrets of the keyboard while touring with Themselves. And when he was back home (this time protected by the luxury of drywall), Alias began crafting wordless moodpieces out of live and electronic instrumentation. His Eyes Closed EP and Muted full-length (2003) officially marked a corner turned-rich atmospherics tied to a hip-hop pulse, guitars and keys and tapped drums all rolling forward in one big ball of gorgeous. When Alias' little brother heard the music, it was decided: Ehren-who'd since become quite the virtuoso-would fly out to Oakland and the two would make a record together. A year later they did, and the resulting LP, Lillian, was released in August of 2005.
Alias has since started his own label (Goodwithmoney Recordings) and more recently has released a full-length album that he recorded with singer Tarsier (of Brooklyn-based electronic duo Healamonster and Tarsier) called Oaklyn/Brookland via Anticon. He has collaborated with every member of the Anticon roster, Sage Francis, Will Oldham, Saul Williams, DJ Krush, Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie/The Postal Service), Styrofoam, and members of the Notwist. He has done remixes for Lali Puna, Lunz, JD Walker, Lucky Pierre, Deep Thinkers, Sixtoo, Giardini di Miro, Boy in Static, Christ., and The One AM Radio, many of which will be compiled a released via Anticon in spring 2007. He has toured the world, sharing a stage with such acts as The Roots, Dalek, Freestyle Fellowship, Kid 606, Xiu Xiu, Lali Puna, American Analog Set, The Go Find, Grand Buffet, Damo Suzuki, The Notwist, B. Fleischmann/Duo 505, Non-Phixion, The Beatnuts, DJ Krush, and Fog. Alias is now busy working on his full-length instrumental solo follow up to Muted.