Beats, sax, song, energy make for unique show

Amber McKenna

You’ve heard of one-man bands, but Boy Eats Drum Machine is a one-man sensation. That man is Jon Ragel.
Native Portlander Ragel describes his sound as experimental and fun. As a producer, singer, songwriter, illustrator, turntablist and musician who plays saxophone, guitar, organ, synthesizer and percussion, calling Ragel talented might be an understatement.
“I’ve always had a passion for pop music, like Michael Jackson and Prince, and a fondness for hooks,” Ragel said.
He was inspired to produce after hearing the sound score on video games such as Pac Man and Metroid.
“I like quirky video game sounds, turntables and funk breaks,” Ragel said.
Performing all over the Northwest, BEDM had the opportunity to play large venues, such as Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, and intimate spaces, such as house parties.
“It’s nice to have the opportunity to connect with people by being on the same level as them,” he said. “I’m honored to get to share my heart with people.”
Senior Renata Tirta, musical events chair for the Linfield Activities Board, pegged BEDM as a good act to for a Cat Cab when she saw him live in September at Musicfest NW in Portland.
“BEDM takes a little bit of every genre,” Tirta said. “I think he appeals to a lot of people,”
This year, Tirta said she aims to have a variety of dynamics at performances and thinks Regal is a nice twist to the kind of singer/songwriters that are usually featured in Cat Cabs. She wanted to bring an artist who brings energy and would get the audience involved, as BEDM often does.
“He’s funky and unique,” she said. “Plus, he lets the audience play tambourine.”
Ragel compares himself to artists such as DJ Shadow, Queen, Morphine and Postal Service. He started recording as BEDM in 2001, and he has since released three full-length albums. On “Two Ghosts,” Ragel collaborated with other Portland-area artists. National Public Radio called him fresh and unexpected.
As the poster boy for multitalented individuals, Ragel even does the artwork for his albums.
His latest album, just released last month under the Portland-based label Tender Loving Empire, is titled “Boooomboxxx.” It features 10 tracks and, in true indie style, is available in vinyl, as well as CD. Some of Ragel’s favorite tracks are “Planets + Stars” and “We Are An Army,” the latter of which almost didn’t make it on the album.
“When things happen on accident, I tend to favor those things,” he said.
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