My story starts with my Mexican parents. They eloped from Mexico City then had me in Los Angeles. Their early gift to me was a stand-up piano for kids. According to my mom, I spent most of my time on it, writing songs and playing them over and over. When I was a teenager, I was the frontwoman in a punk/indie cover band, then played in a few post-rock bands. I became obsessed with the label Thrill Jockey, and moved to Chicago because they were based there. My sister was my biggest champion—she accompanied me on the long drive. Even though she slept most of the time in the passenger seat, her love and support meant the world to me.
I remember when I first started the OctoMusic project; I was still playing in my previous band back in 2017-2018. I was kind of tired of playing in that four-piece format, and I just felt we weren’t moving the whole thing forward, so that was the perfect time for me to start working on my own thing. I began releasing different singles and working with a couple of other musicians. When you do everything by yourself, it is very challenging as you have to establish your own deadlines and you have nobody to share the workload with, like when you are in a band, but it’s also very comforting as you can produce your music with much more depth.
Want to know how I became good at making music? I just forgot I sucked at it.
I have a selective memory. Depending on how I feel, things either seem rather gloomy or much more thrilling looking back. However, a feeling I remember experiencing well throughout my upbringing is one of not being good enough. I always tried different things, which made me insightful in many respects but simultaneously mediocre in those very things. I’ve always struggled to do one thing. That always made me feel indecisive and ill-disciplined – two qualities you don’t want as a male where I’m from.
Well, my dad died when I was really young, so most of my life has just been my mother and me. As much as I’d hate to admit it, she significantly influenced my perception of the world and myself in it. Accepting this brought about the meaning behind my latest project: “Stasis,” a collection of songs made at home during points of recovery after wild trips far from home (2021-2022).
I have been a Prince fan since I was 8 and first heard Let’s Go Crazy, with its ear grabbing pyrotechnic guitar ending. Since then, I’ve learned from him, copied him and even just ended up doing the same things as him by osmosis or naturally. His work ethic, energy and diversity are three touchstones of my own ‘career’ and I have many strange ethereal intangible links to prince and ‘signs’ attached to many of my fondest moments in music so far that it’s almost as if he’s been a musical guardian angel since his passing in 2016 – an event that hit me so bad that I bought a streaming package, set up a little shrine on screen and DJ’d for 3 days straight, so fans had a place to hang, and I had some way of expressing my own sense of loss and gratitude for him voluminous output and inspiring presence in my own life. My phone went off non-stop that first day, I was associated with him so much by my circle of friends, they were checking that I was ok!
Okay, that’s not entirely true. I have the language. I can talk about what a particular song means to me, or I can talk about what that drummer is doing on the hi-hat that makes you know it’s them. Music history is an easy one – I’ve devoured all the rock bios, read all the critical analysis, seen all the interviews. I eat, sleep and breathe music. So why does it feel hard to talk about?
Not to sound all new-age about it, but music is elemental. Larger than life. When I was a kid, like most kids, I was into superheroes. The bright colors, the high stakes, the every moment of a story that meant something important to the larger narrative. As I grew up, music was the only “adult” thing that felt that exciting, that vital, that universal and yet intensely personal.
Greetings! My name is Tim Oestmann, from Adelaide, Australia.
Music is such a gift. It is a community event. Many of us are influenced by others’ gifts of a song or a tune, and hopefully, we can provide a tune in return. None of us makes music in a vacuum.
My background is as a guitarist and bass player in a number of local bands. I was fortunate enough to perform for a few years in front of live audiences, which was often a privilege. I also learned a lot from playing to an audience that gave instant feedback if you were hot, or not, they would let you know. I also did some roadie work for other performers, and so heard a lot of live music.
For those who don’t know my name is Alex Black, but I go by many names. I’m Alex Black. I’m Flash The Stampede. I’m Johnny Louisville. Hence the The Man With Three Faces moniker. When I practice martial arts I’m Three Chāoláng (超狼) LOL. My main creative persona is Alex Black, however. I’m an artist in every sense of the word. A dreamer, hard worker, flamboyant, charismatic, experimental. I’m gorgeous, and one of the most dopest people walking this planet. I’m one of one, I do what I want, when I want & how I want which confuses people.
I’ve said this somewhere else but people see a 6’5 dude from Brooklyn, muscular, with an androgynous pretty boy style, constantly rocking something flamboyant. They’ll see this dude pull up in a streetwear brand from London, or maybe he’s rocking some vintage designer clothes from the 80s and 90s, mixing it with crazy footwear and eyeliner. An eccentric human being, but his talent and charisma is undeniable. That’s who Alex Black is.
Hi, my name is Torsten, I play piano and synth in an instrumental band from Bristol, UK called Hexcut. Also in the band are Chris Dreher (electronics), Dominic Fludger (bass guitar) and Rick Entwistle (drums). Our sound is somewhere between rock, modern jazz and electronic dance music and is hard to put into any one genre! It comes from the collective influences of all of us, and we write music together so it comes out as a blend of all our tastes: I am particularly into jazz acts like Gogo Penguin and Mammal Hands as well as alternative electronic acts such as Bonobo and Jon Hopkins, Chris is into hip hop and trip hop such as Blockhead and Portishead, Dom is into progressive rock and metal and Rick is into heavy rock and metal as well as house and drum’n’bass.
Raven and Phan, also known as Utku and Manuel (me), is a duo from Vienna, Austria. Utku is originally from Istanbul, Turkey, and has lived in various countries in Europe and America. Our music is influenced by cultural, musical, melodic, and rhythmic elements, which is why we like to refer to our music as “A sonic odyssey from the Bosporus to the Alps.”
We met in 2014 when I was searching for a guitar player for my project. A mutual friend, Ilkhan, introduced us, and we began playing together. At the time, they were founding a recording label, which I was also indirectly a part of. We spent our summer days chilling on Utku’s balcony, listening to inspiring music such as Caribou’s track “Sun,” Chet Faker, Nicolas Jaar, and Jamie XX. Our goal was to create music that reflected our unique perspectives and shared influences.
When I was proposed to write this article, I was thrilled, but also asked myself if my story as a musician was interesting enough to write an article about. But like music, you don’t know how it will be received until it’s out in the world.
I’m Amox, an independent music artist. I’m located in Bucharest, Romania, for now. My project is called Amok Sun. I like to think about Amok Sun as a band. It needs collaboration as a foundation to work as I envision it. I currently do everything by myself. And I mean everything. Promotion, videos, artwork, social media, and others. All of this is on top of a full-time job as a UX Designer.
Thinking about Amok Sun’s sound, it is difficult for me to define the main genre. Maybe call it electro-rock. I hope that it will determine its own style. This is something for the community to decide. I would describe the music I create as a mix of genres and themes like alternative rock, electronica, IDM, medieval or renaissance, and world genres. Well, that’s the goal anyway, right now I’m pretty much isolated from the artist community because of my late bloom.