Whenever the women of Electria go against the current, it never quite works out.
The trio got its start when Zara Bolone, a then-Louisville transplant from Arizona, was seeking members to form a one-of-a-kind group. A viola player, Bolone always played classical music, but later joined an electric string quartet.
"I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I thought I was a rock star," she said.
When she moved to Louisville, she noticed there were no groups in the area – or the state, for that matter – that were similar to her unique style.
"There was a huge market here that was untapped," she said.
After going through a life-changing event, she moved closer to Lexington and bought all the equipment needed to start an electric musical group. She found group-member Alison Suell in 2013 online, who then ran a private studio called Louisville Strings.
"It was an instant click with Alison," Bolone said. "We knew we were going to be business partners. (The chance I took moving here and buying the equipment to form the group) was scary, but honestly, if it wasn’t for Alison’s input, it would not have grown. We’re like two sides of a coin. Where she is weak, I am strong (and vice versa).”
Suell is a lifetime viola player, and after college, she built her studio to teach and perform at weddings. The call from Bolone brought the two and a celloist together to form Electric String Fusion.
That name didn’t stick, though. Some competition threatened to sue for the name and bought the website domain out from under them. They let go of it and decided on Electria – the suffix -ia having a feminine sound and -tria playing on the word ‘trio.’
“It was meant to be Electria. There was too much opposition with the other name,” Bolone said.
And so they became -- and are still -- the only electric string group in the region. The group provides entertainment for weddings, parties and corporate events and includes violinist Bolone, violaist Suell and celloist Cecilia Huerta-Lauf. They love to travel – they’ve played at Keeneland and derby parties in Lexington, SEC championship pre-game parties in Georgia and have held their own concerts.
“(Our sound) is the latest sound in string music. We sound just like the radio minus the words,” Bolone said.
Since the trio plays on electric instruments, they’re plugged into a sound system that plays backtracks of the songs they perform.
“It fills it out. It makes it more robust and more interesting,” Suell said. “It’s nice because we can project ourselves more than (if we were playing) acoustic. Many bands and musicians don’t have control over their volume, but we have a lot of control over the sound and volume. The backtracks really separate us from other groups. It’s like having a band without the band.”
They tend to cover popular songs, which is a huge trend in weddings, they said.
“A lot of musicians here are not interested in the pop scene, but clients are very interested in pop music,” Suell said.
Electria does offer classical, acoustic selections too. They’ve built a large repertoire of music and consider themselves a service; meaning if they aren’t available for a certain date, they hire other musicians to play at an event in their place.
The group members also looked to become a quartet by adding a second violinist. Bolone said they went through 10 violinists, only to end up back as a trio.
“Some couldn’t play the rock style, some didn’t like it. Again with the opposition – we were meant to be a trio,” she said.
The group’s original celloist ultimately left the group, and after searching for a female musician whose style matched the group’s distinctive sound, they found Cecilia, who joined in 2015.
“We call ourselves patchwork…musicians,” Suell said. “We have a patchwork way of making our living. We’re all diverse—playing gigs, coaching, Cecilia judges (events) for string players, playing at weddings, we all teach. And we’re all full-time musicians.”
The group’s style has also changed. Suell said they started as more of a rock group with an edge, but it transformed into something more elegant and upscale.
“We decided to ride the wave and see how it evolved,” Bolone said. “When you don’t fight it, success will come. Whenever we tried to change (things), it never worked.”
The group has overcome many hurdles, and not only is it inimitable in its sound, but also in its members.
“We wanted it to be an all-girl thing. There’s a certain chemistry between women. It definitely has its appeal,” Suell said.
“It was absolutely clear, without a doubt, it has to be an all-female (group),” Bolone said. “We love our guy substitutes, but the core of the group – we felt strongly about being a female group and being about female power. We have a (certain) approachability too.”
Booking and further information can be found on Electria at electriastrings.com.