Asher Swisa and I share a profound connection that has spanned many years, our paths intertwining naturally within the music world.
Our fateful encounter occurred at an electrifying event hosted by my label during the esteemed Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE). Playing together that night only deepened our bond, and it was clear that our shared passion for music would lead us to embark on a creative journey together.
On our sophomore full-length album, “No Easy Way Out,” we examine tragedy underneath a bed of pulsating drone-rock following the murder of our bass player Aron Christensen in 2022, inspired by artists like Spacemen 3, The Velvet Underground, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
We do a lot of things: heavy blues, psychedelic, and atmospheric rock. It’s not as psychedelic/jammy as our first record. It’s more dark and brooding. It has some jams in it, but it’s far more focused.
Tragically, the biggest story isn’t our sound but the death of Aron Christensen, who was murdered while hiking with his four-month-old puppy, Buzzo. Inept police work, a lazy district attorney, and many questions that will probably never be answered have led many news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, to write about Aron’s mysterious murder. However, before his passing, we were finishing what would become No Easy Way Out, an eight-track collection of songs that explore, examine, and contemplate life, death, and how nobody makes it out alive.
As I sit down to write this, I have several topics swirling around in my brain. I could spill my life’s story, I could educate you about music for the video game and film trailer industries, I could ramble about my frustrations and stress around having to wear too many hats, and so on. But for your sake (and mine honestly), I’ll keep it simple.
Welcome to my blog post! Thanks for being here. My name is Megan McDuffee and I’m a composer, music producer, and artist primarily for video games. I’ve built a successful client business over the past decade, and have gotten to work on some very cool things like all the Atari Recharged games, River City Girls 1 & 2 from WayForward, Apex Legends Mobile, the trailers for Annihilation and The Predator, and many more. You can even hear my songs in reality TV shows like The Bachelor and Love Is Blind. It’s been a wild journey, and there’s still so much more to tackle.
Bugs are really cool. I own a bunch of bugs encased in glass and you can look at them and go “Wow, that’s cool.” My favorite is a flower mantis that sits atop one of my shelves. I like how it looks. I wanted to make songs about bugs, so I did. In my opinion, you wouldn’t call a crab, a spider, or a shrimp an insect, but I’m perfectly comfortable calling them bugs. I even think I am a bug sometimes too. We’re all bugs if you really think about it.
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.