This past Thursday, the Binghamton University Union Underground Cafe was the place to be as students came together for the newest Binghamton Underground Music Presents (BUMP) show — featuring Blue Hawaii and opener DJ Ambrosia.
Blue Hawaii consists of Raphaelle “Ra” Standell-Preston and Alex “Agor” Cowan. They are known for their dreamy and electronic beats. Sonically, they take inspiration from ‘90s dance music, while their lyricism speaks to their emotional vulnerabilities surrounding the complexities of love, heartbreak and separation.
Madeline Schalk, BUMP chair and a senior majoring in economics, described her reasoning behind bringing Blue Hawaii to BU.
“I had been listening to Blue Hawaii for a few years now,” Schalk said. “My sister introduced me to the group and I wanted to get a very high-energy performance that would get the crowd going. They also did the best on our fall survey for BUMP shows to see at the school.”
The Underground Cafe was transformed by way of mood lighting that illuminated the space in a mixture of deep purples, greens and blues. Along with the eclectic lighting, the intimate setting allowed both performers to truly hone in on their music while connecting it to the audience.
DJ Ambrosia’s high-energy infused set was a total body experience, as you could quite literally feel the vibrations of the music within your chest. The combination of their killer beat drops, heavy bass and dream-like tones throughout their set made for an impactful opening for the audience.
DJ Ambrosia, also known as Genie Fyodorova — a senior majoring in biology — reflected on the focus they tap into before a performance.
“You look at the crowd and you see how the crowd is feeling and you respond to that,” Fyodorova said. “You look at how they’re doing and what they’re vibing with and pick your next song from there. I try to be very deliberate with my song choices.”
When Blue Hawaii took the stage, they continued to build on the energy that DJ Ambrosia had started. Their opening song “L.O.V.E.” — off of their 2022 EP “My Bestfriend’s House” — introduced the crowd to Standell-Preston’s ethereal vocals and Cowan’s DJ skills. They continued their set by playing their 2020 EP “Under 1 House,” which included “Let it Be Us” — a song that started off stripped down but slowly built the bass under Standell-Preston’s vocals, exuding a longing feeling of intense love. Their third title track off of this EP, “Not my Boss!” got the crowd going as they shouted back the lyrics “You’re not my boss!” and “I’m my own damn woman.” The duo’s electric presence on stage shined when Standell-Preston performed “I Felt Love,” which created an entrancing mood that was felt among the crowd.
Standell-Preston said Blue Hawaii represents a joyful experience for her.
“It’s something that we do very quickly, that we do naturally, very joyfully and very easefully,” Standell-Preston said. “That’s something that I definitely honor very much within my working relationship with Agor. Bringing joy and ease to the process and seeing that within the audience of people letting loose and letting their guard down and us letting our guard down.”
As their set came to a close, the duo began to improvise and even played Britney Spears’s “Toxic,” which continued their ability to produce a space of infectious dancing all the way until the end.
According to Schalk, the night was a success.
“Blue Hawaii was really good at outreaching the crowd and making everyone feel really comfortable, really empowered and really good about themselves,” Schalk said. “I think that reflected in the dancing everybody did.”