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Orange Pop: Polaris at Noon changes course

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

When Jason Suwito was 6 years old he dreaded going to piano lessons. Nowadays, the local musician says he’s thankful his parents pushed him to learn the keys at an early age -- he considers it a blessing. Suwito, now 25, has been performing under the moniker Polaris at Noon and just last week released his new EP, En Pointe.

To help celebrate and promote the release, Polaris at Noon is appearing with the Boxer Rebellion on May 1 at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa, as well as a few dates with British electro trio Dirty Vegas, including a May 6 stop at the Echoplex in Los Angeles.

Suwito wrote, performed, mixed and recorded all of the music on the EP in his home studio in Costa Mesa. En Pointe is a departure, he says, from his previous full-length release from 2008, Season One; that album had a more traditional pop/rock sound.

“Before I was writing in a more rock style with piano, and I wrote some ballads and what-not, but then I started messing with electronic music,” he explains. “It was all new to me and I wanted to challenge myself. I was so familiar with the typical guitar/bass/keyboard setup, and I was looking to grow as a producer, so I started getting into learning new techniques, which is really apparent in the new stuff. It’s just a lot more fun.”

His biggest influences are Swedish indie-pop act Miike Snow, L.A. darlings Foster the People, Sam’s Town by the Killers (one of his all-time favorite albums) and, since he grew up in Irvine, local rock success story Thrice. “They’ve always been a huge inspiration. They’re what probably got me into music in the first place and the reason why I picked up guitar.”

While attending Woodbridge High School in Irvine, Suwito joined several bands that subsequently broke up fast. In early 2008 he started his solo project Polaris at Noon and began writing songs until he had enough to release Season One before summer arrived. He continued to play steadily locally and kept up interest in his music by posting new songs and videos on his Facebook and YouTube page regularly, yet he knew he wanted to reinvent himself with a fresh approach.

With the new EP, he says, he was strove for a more dance-rock feel in the vein of the Sounds and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. As that sound has matured, so has his songwriting: “Music is an outlet for me, and in the end I feel like (the lyrics) carry the weight of what I’m feeling,” Suwito says. “Music helps me release it and take it off of my shoulders. It feels good.”

Though on record Suwito is a solo act, he has three local musicians -- bassist Josh Beck, guitarist Philippe Gutierrez and drummer Kevin Jordan -- joining him for these coming gigs. In the future, he says, Polaris at Noon will continue to release songs online via social-networking sites as often as possible to cultivate an even more solid following. Suwito is content doing things DIY style for the moment; getting signed to a major label is not his first priority.

“I’m not closed off to the idea but I think you just need to find the right label that actually cares about you,” he says. “Right now I feel like an indie music label would be a smart move if you wanted to sign with someone because they actually are about the music. If you sign to a major label, they have their money artists that they need to take care of and it’s easy for you to get lost in the mix.

"For now I just want to release music as often as possible -- maybe another EP later this year.”

Polaris at Noon plays May 1 at 9 p.m. with the Boxer Rebellion and We Are Augustines at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., in Costa Mesa. Tickets are $12.

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