Duke Skellington, aka Chad Sells, takes his Air Force training in IT and his current technology day job and at nights twists it into something that welcomes the dark: DJ gigs and playing Future Swing as the Vaude Villainz with DJ Skyler Gilmore. The San Gabriel Valley-based Sells will be one of the locals brought in to give an LA County flavor to the San Francisco-based Edwardian Ball at the Fonda Theatre (6126 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles) tonight (9 February 2019).
Born in OC, but raised mostly in San Bernardino County, Sells was 12 or 13 when he “started getting really into music” and at that times it was punk rock, grunge and ska–“the genres of the time.” He actually “begged my parents to give me piano lessons” because Sells recalls, “I decided I wanted to play keyboard” because of the ska band, Let’s Go Bowling.
His piano teacher gave him a foundation in music theory, helping him learn to analyze classical music and Sells was then caught up in the swing revival of the mid-90s: Voodoo Daddy and the Royal Crown Review.
From there he dived into rave music before emerging with his own Future Swing thing. Sells describes future wave as “a synthesis developed from pioneering electronic music like (insert dope classic drum and bass that shaped you here), dance-heavy big-band swing from the 1920’s and 1930’s, and lo-fi avant-garde soundscapes that lift your mind to the clouds.”
If you want to sample some tracks check out The Vaude Villainz recent record “Voodoo Swing” (released in 2017) under Ragtime Records. This year The Duke Skellington “Devils, Dames and Debauchery” EP will be dropping with Ragtime. But between 10 p.m. to midnight, you can hear Vaude Villainz in person on the roof top garden of the Edwardian Ball.
The Edwardian Ball turns ten in Los Angeles but just finished its 19th year in San Francisco. The Edward referenced is not the British king who was Queen Victoria’s eldest son and reigned from 1901-1914 nor Edward VIII who reigned for less than a year and abdicated to marry the woman he loved –that would be too boring! The ball themes itself on stories by writer/illustrator Edward Gorey (1925-2000). Sells said “The sets that we play are very nuanced and specific and really old Edwardian era oldest forms of jazz music.” Then they add “darker industrial dance beats” because the Edwardian Ball is “half fantasy, half steam punk element with an edgier side to it.”
His advice on what to wear? “The bigger the better. Don’t worry about being too flamboyant to too flashy. Dress up; have fun.” And even if you don’t dress up, he added, “You can have fun just watching people” who have entered “a realm of fantasy.”
So leave the modern era behind and enter the Fonda Theatre for a fantastic 10th Edwardian Ball.