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An Interview with Jack Douglas

Jack walked into the study room where I was waiting for him holding a chicken parmesan sandwich loaded with marinara sauce and sprinkled with cheese. He sat in the chair next to me, put his feet up on the table, and took a bite into his sandwich. At first he took the time to chew between his thoughts, but he seemed to forget about the sandwich as we kept talking, and by the end of our interview it was only half eaten. During our interview I noticed his voice sounded deeper than normal, and he took his time to think out each response, speaking slowly and thoughtfully.

Jack’s parents involved him with music when he was very young, signing him up for piano lessons when he was five years old. He went on to take lessons in guitar and violin, but chose to stick with guitar for the remainder of his time at home in Atlanta. He taught himself harmonica in college, and can also “fiddle around on the banjo”.

Jack writes his own songs, both for his band and for himself. He currently is in the band Touch It, which Jack describes as a “hard drunk party band.” He was in a band in high school, called Lotus Slide, where he also played guitar and wrote songs.

Jack describes the differences between writing songs for himself and writing for a band. He says that songs he writes for himself have less of an emphasis on completion, and there is an added level of complexity in order to fill up the sound yourself with a single instrument. Songs that are written for a band are bound to be altered and changed due to the influence of so many other musicians.

“It’s interesting that songs somehow come from nowhere and as you’re creating them you figure out what they’re going to be in grander terms. When I write for myself I sort of get a good feel, maybe write a verse or write a chorus, and then let that lead into whatever the song is going to be. When I write for Touch It, it’s the same, but I’ll let everyone else fill it out and see what else we need to put into it to make it a complete song. I don’t write all the songs for Touch It, that should be made clear.”

Jack says that he doesn’t fully understand his own creative process, but he believes that the songs performed by Touch It have a level of superiority to songs he writes by himself. He calls them “creative projects,” and says that as they work together on the song, it becomes an amalgam of six talented musicians individual sounds.

Jack holds a strong musical presence on campus as a member of Touch It, as most people know him as the singer of the band. However, he considers himself a musician outside of the band as well. He is a music minor and still takes lessons at school. He’s played in a number of events by himself, such as Open Mic night and Coburn Unplugged. Jack says that having two sources of musical expression has been good for him, as each allows him to focus on different aspects of his musicianship.

“There’s a lot of music inside my heart and it needs to come out. Sometimes it comes out for Touch It and sometimes it comes out for myself. Music is one of my favorite things to do, and when you have a lot of musical material that’s been written it’s going to come out in some way or another. It’s nice that I have two outlets for my musical expression.”

Jack says that everyone has an inherent drive to identify something as his creative outlet. Music, playing and writing, serve such a purpose for him. As long as it continues to bring him joy, it will remain such an outlet.

“I think my favorite part is being able to share something that I spend time on and value in my life with other people, in hopes that they will also enjoy and value that experience.”

Touch It will stay together until they graduate, according to Jack, and he will remain playing with them until that day. He doesn’t see himself stopping playing after college, and will continue to utilize it as an expressive tool.

When I asked Jack if there was anything else he wanted to add or wanted people to know, he told me this, and made me promise to include it in my piece: “Start your own band CC. If you don’t like what I have to say about music, or my music, or any of the music at CC, or you do like the music at CC but you’re not quite satisfied, start your own band and quit complaining.”

 

 

 

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An Interview with James Farrell

I saw James walking to Worner through the windows on the first floor. He was coming to meet me for an interview I had asked him about a few days prior. He looked down when he walked with his hands in the pockets of his brightly colored shorts. He was wearing a faded red sweatshirt with a colorful hat that had a stitched weed leaf on it. He slid into the chair across from me at exactly 4:30, when we had agreed to meet. As I explained to him the purpose of my interview and my intentions with the article, he seemed a little uncertain. After we started speaking more openly, however, this vanished and he answered my questions honestly and enthusiastically.

James’s musicianship started in high school when he played bass in a band. He says this was fun for a while, but working with other people has never been one of his strong attributes, and he grew frustrated with the lack of originality they held. Around this time, he heard dubstep for the first time. He was in his friend’s basement, and the exposure to the music sparked an interest almost immediately.

“I had no idea what I was listening to, and I didn’t even like it at first, but I was so interested because I’d never heard anything that sounded like it before. It was dark, not like the candy house bullshit that we listen to clubbing, which I never really liked. It was different and dark, and I really liked that.”

He began working out little songs on Garage Band, but soon learned that you can’t really make good music on Garage Band, so he switched to a more official program that allowed him to create the music he wanted to. He taught himself how to create, watching videos and reading forums. He began with a focus on producing, learning new things constantly as he continued to experiment. James has a variety of ways that he goes about creating and producing his music. It can be linear and calculated, or emerge organically, but he made it clear that he never forces anything.

“Sometimes I’ll find vocal samples in someone else’s song that I can use, just like a snippet or something, and take it and slow it down or speed it up or make it go backwards, and then chop it up and make my own melody out of it, and then figure out a beat to go behind that. Sometimes I’ll just think about an idea for a feeling and take a whole bunch of sound bites that will lend themselves to that and throw them together and see where it goes. I find it’s easier to work, especially recently, where I don’t have an end goal in mind. I start with an idea and let myself take it wherever it goes. It ends up sounding more natural that way.”

If you want to see James DJ live, it’ll most likely be at a house party under the name “Sleepy James”. He says that this is where he primarily is able to showcase his abilities, however DJing at a house party has its benefits and drawbacks. As a DJ, James accepts a responsibility to ensure that guests have an enjoyable time. This comes at a cost to his creativity sometimes, for a medium must be achieved between what he really wants to play and what the guests want to hear.

“I can’t always play what I want to. I have to make the party happen and make sure people dance and have a good time. I can’t freak people out with the stuff that I only like. I’m trying to strike a balance between not being too weird so people can dance, but also play things that people haven’t heard before.”

At parties, James does all his mixing on the spot. He has routines that he knows well, such as what songs go well together or lead into each other, but his sets are not normally planned out or practiced. Other than his performance at Battle of the Bands, he tries to stay away from a laid out set, and finds that the longer sets where he can improvise lend themselves to more interesting and unique creations.

James says that creating music is both a routine and a distraction for him. When he starts making music he can get lost in it for hours and forget about anything else of importance. As he continues to talk about why he chooses to make music, I watch a wide grin spread its way across his face. Soon, I’m not asking any more questions, and he’s staring into space talking about the feeling he gets when he creates and DJs.

“It’s satisfying to create something from scratch and from the sounds I hear around me. There’s something in the artistic process that’s very satisfying. It’s cheesy to say I’m expressing myself, but I guess so. DJing is fun- I hope it makes the party better, and people have a great time and have something to dance to- I can make them move. I have control over the mood of the whole thing. I can get really really dark, and bring it to a place that’s happier. I can build up a drop and not drop it and everyone yells at me. It’s really fun to fuck with people like that. That sounds bad, but it’s actually really cool.”

James can fill up a house party easily. Not only is he talented in his creations and performances, but he exudes a passion that the audience can sense. I was surprised by his enthusiasm during our interview, but I realized after that I shouldn’t have been. Seeing him talk about his music openly and honestly made me understand how important it all is to him, and I hope to see him perform again before he graduates.

After graduating this spring, James plans to move back to Paris where he grew up. He’s going to continue to create music, and is hoping to find small venues in Paris to play at and showcase his work. He’s also finally going to make a soundcloud.

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An Interview with Eliza Densmore

I walked to Eliza’s house in an aggressive down pour of soft snow. One of her roommates let me in, and as I adjusted to the warmth the smell of something delicious being cooked trickled into the room and soon engulfed the entire house. We sat down in her living room, me on a wooden table and her on an oversized beanbag chair in the center of room. I asked if she could play me some songs and she pulled out her guitar, placing it on her lap. She played three originals. She looked comfortable singing to me in her loose jeans and wool socks, like an impromptu solo performance for an audience of one was no big deal to her.

The first thing I noticed was that she moved her toes a lot when she sang. After the first song she said she preferred to stand and walked to the center of the room. She stood in front of me, silhouetted against the pastel light behind her.  When she sang her face was full of expression. Her eyebrows moved up and down with the music. Her eyes opened wide, closed suddenly, and opened again more slowly. She looked down, out and down again. During the last song there was a moment when her voice got loud. It was controlled and sudden, and it surprised me. She quickly diffused back into a softer tone effortlessly. It was beautiful, and I wanted to hear that power behind her voice again.

Eliza has been musical since a young age. She started taking piano lessons when she was six, learning by the Suzuki method, which focuses on the development of a musician’s ear rather than their ability to read sheet music. Her musical journey was largely independent. She listened to a wide variety of music growing up, building a repertoire of different styles and techniques. She taught herself guitar, and learned how to harmonize by singing along to songs she heard. Her only formal training was chorus.

“I didn’t really consider myself skilled at singing until late in high school. I was sort of a loner in high school and I would come home and be angsty and play the piano to myself. I would try and belt it all out. Eventually you learn how to work with what you have and adapt and find your own sound.”

Eliza first started writing songs on the piano, but switched to the guitar her junior year of high school. The piano was framed in her mind as a more classical instrument, and the guitar lent itself more useful for the singer-songwriter vibe she wanted. She wrote her first song when she was fifteen. She laughed when I asked her about it, and offered to play it for me. It’s called “Out of Here”. It’s angsty, and the lyrics are hilariously trivial, but behind is an impressive chord progression that Eliza says she still enjoys.

When Eliza came to CC she hesitantly entered the music scene. She started with nervous performances of covers at open mic and ended up in a few student bands her freshman year. It wasn’t really what she was looking for, but eventually she met the right people and found those that had interests more aligned with hers. She is currently in the band Randy and the Reptiles, and is a member of Room 46, an a cappella group on campus.

“I don’t know if I ever felt totally comfortable voicing what I wanted to do at the beginning. It was definitely hard. A lot of the guys wanted to play their electric guitars super loud and told me I could do the ‘belty singing’ part on the side, but I wanted to be more involved than that. I think Randy is really good about that.”

Eliza thinks that singing with other people is about community. Once she started collaborating more and forging new relationships, she grew more comfortable in her abilities. Her songwriting followed suit, and since her high school years she’s developed a more advanced approach to writing.

“Songwriting has gotten a lot less ‘me me me I I I’. It’s still a little that way- when you write a song I feel like that’s what’s relatable, but it’s more subtle now and I’m looking more at the details of things. I have a long way to go and grow as a songwriter and I think it progresses with each song. The way I would have written “Out of Here” is to just have written it and not gone back at all or reedited. Now it’s a lot more of piecing things together. I’ll write for five pages and take bits and put them together.”

Between her group musical commitments and her classwork, Eliza’s found that she hasn’t had as much time as she hoped for. She wants to focus more on her own work and get a better grasp on what exactly she wants to be doing. Her songwriting, while advancing, hasn’t been as much of a center point as she wants it to, and in the months to come she hopes to learn more about who she is as a musician.

“I was scared about post-grad in the fall but now it’s sort of fine. Working on music is something I’m thinking about, and I feel like at CC I’ve taken advantage of all the musical connections I’ve made with people, but haven’t focused on myself as much. But I don’t think that will hurt me at all. I do want to spend more time alone, reading and writing.”

I asked Eliza about her emotional connection to music, like what purpose it serves for her and why she engages with it. She thought about it for a moment and stumbled on her words as she tried to articulate her thoughts. She decided to tell me about the times she plays piano by herself in Shove, and the feeling it instills in her when the sound fills the room.

“Sound fills up a space with something. It’s physical, it’s emotional, it’s everything. I feel like I have to do it. It’s comfort, emotional stability, relationships with people. Everything. It’s discipline, it’s something you work at, it’s a craft. Especially with song writing, you can piece everything in there. It’s simply everything.”

Eliza’s commitment to her work shows clearly in her compositions. She does not rely on her natural talent to carry her forward, she works for it- meticulously and persistently. Her devotion reveals itself in her creations and performances, and in the coming months I look forward to seeing what she comes up with. If you haven’t seen Eliza perform, you should really try and catch her before she’s gone.

 

 

 

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DJ Profile- “Jazz n’ Shit” with Cole Emhoff

Monday nights from ten to eleven pm you’ll find Cole Emhoff in the SOCC studio djing his radio show, Jazz n’ Shit. The name is pretty self-explanatory- Cole plays his favorite jazz music, and the ‘shit’ is basically an excuse to play whatever else he wants at any point.

He came up with the name long before he actually had a radio show, or even thought he would have one.

“I remember fantasizing in my car one time while I was driving and pretending I was a DJ, putting on songs and announcing them. I was thinking of things I could call a show and ‘Jazz n’ Shit’ came to my head. I knew that’s exactly what I wanted to call it.”

Cole always intended to have his show focus on jazz music. His taste for jazz developed when he was young and involved in musical theater. He performed in a surprising amount of productions, but his favorite musical was Anything Goes by Cole Porter, a notable jazz standard composer. The score for Anything Goes has been called Porter’s best composition, and many jazz musicians continue to play and interpret these songs. The songs from the musical resonated with Cole from an early age, before he knew exactly how influential they were to more popular jazz songs of the time.

His actual interest in popular jazz music comes with a notable story. It started in 10th grade after he’d gotten his license. His mom enforced a strict curfew at the time, and one night Cole spent a little too much time at his girlfriend’s house and was going to be late.

“I was freaking out and bolted out the door. I was driving back on the freeway pretty fast and I knew I needed to relax. My friend Jake had told me he was listening to Kind of Blue, a classic penultimate jazz album. I put it on, specifically the song Blue in Green, and it really mellowed me out. I was a different person after hearing that song. It’s still my favorite jazz song. I remember listening to it and being amazed at how it affected me emotionally. I’d enjoyed other good music objectively, but I hadn’t really heard anything that had that kind of physical affect on me.”

After his initial exposure Cole began researching other jazz artists, spending hours on Wikipedia and music blogs. He sought out information on jazz artists he’d heard of and then went further to see who they played with and who they were associated with. In the process he discovered not only the music, but the stories surrounding the musicians, as well.

“I mean, Charlie Parker lit himself on fire and jumped out a window. They’re all crazy, but it was the epitome of cool. They were cool when being cool meant something different than it means now.”

Jazz n’ Shit is Cole’s attempt to bring awareness to the music he loves and to share it with others. He says sternly that jazz is under appreciated, as it was before, and wants people to recognize the historical elements and the skill that surrounds the music.

“There’s talent behind the music they’re playing. The way they use their instruments is amazing, and I feel like there’s not that many parallels now in terms of just pure skill. You gotta be crazy and the best, and these musicians are.”

His radio show also serves his own sanity, and offers him a time during his busy day to forgo what weighs on his mind and simply relax.

“I love jazz and I love sitting and listening to it. The show gives me an excuse to drop whatever I’m doing and whatever is stressing me out and just chill. That’s why I started listening to it originally. It mellows me out.”

Cole says he will definitely continue Jazz n’ Shit for the rest of the semester, and hopefully into his remaining time at CC. He has developed an incredible taste for jazz over the years through diligent research and a natural ear for good music. His show is perfect for Monday nights, and listeners who are looking to expand their jazz repertoire or, as Cole says, mellow out, should tune in.

Hans Castrup and Ralf Dublatz of Poison Dwarfs

The Nearly Forgotten Poison Dwarfs

Hans Castrup and Ralf Dublatz of Poison Dwarfs

Hans Castrup and Ralf Dublatz of Poison Dwarfs

If you’re into the whole underground cassette culture that bloomed in Europe and America during the 1980’s, you know that a lot of the European electronic/ industrial/ minimalistic/ acts sound very similar. A typical album example often features hand crafted cover and insert art, contact information, and a cassette full of similar sounding pieces with that lo-fi aura to it. Poison Dwarfs fits into this niche nicely; their cassettes were often designed by the members themselves, there was a reasonable amount of information about the band (credits, contacts, date etc.), and a lot of their lo-fi ambient music sounded similar. Understandably, many people simply treat their work as a nostalgic vestige of that corny post-punk 80’s culture. I believe that there is more to this group. Although it is easy to categorize Poison Dwarfs with other cassette groups of the time, their music has an intelligent structure that is not immediately recognizable in their first release (a sample of which is featured below). The cold ambiance of the synths that is augmented by bass, guitar, and drums comes into its own in 1983’s Wechselbad. This release was limited to 100 copies, each featuring art designed by the band. The sound is all about the atmosphere: various components of the sound combine neatly into a unique track. This alone sets the release apart from the brute , hackneyed electronic noodling of other bands. I fondly remember first discovering the world of esoteric music on the Mutant Sounds Blog. This was my first discovery so there is some bias. That being said, judge for yourself.

Information concerning the band:

Poison Dwarf is a German band from Osnabrück that was formed in 1980 by Helmut Westerfeld (guitar + electronics) and Hans Castrup (electronics, tapes + Studio). They got their name from the fact that Castrup’s English teacher used this title to refer to angry, little men. Though Westerfield left, others would come and go before Poison Dwarfs was distilled into the duo of Castrup and Ralf Dublatz. They toured in various clubs and released several albums before taking a hiatus in 1990. They’re back together and still making music. I’ve had the pleasure of talking to them over e-mail so I got to delve a little deeper into this neat act. Their influences include New Wave, Krautrock, Psychedelia and Jazz. The singer is also a fan of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis and Alan Vega.

Discography

Poison Dwarfs (Cass, C-10) Eigenvertrieb, 1981
Angst und Ekstase (Cass, C-40) Eigenvertrieb, 1982
Wechselbad (Cass, C-40) Eigenvertrieb, 1983
Take Care (Split-Cass, Poison Dwarfs – Set Fatale) IndepenDance, 1985
La Ronde (LP, Album) Roof Records, Rough Trade, 1988
…CUT! (Cass, C40) Irre Tapes, 1989
La Ronde (CD) WOM, jpc, 2010
…CUT! (CD), WOM, jpc, 2010
labil (CD, Cass), Timezone Records, 2012
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An Interview with Bo Malcolm

I interviewed Bo in his room. It was small, incredibly neat, with more books than decorations. He sat across from me at his desk chair while I sat on the bed. He asked me if he should play some of his songs and pulled his guitar out from under the bed.

“How can you interview me without knowing the music, right?”

I said of course, and he proceeded to play me two songs. When he plays he looks down, out into nothing, or at the window, but never at me. He has a look of deep concentration with hints of ease in it. Something is going on in his head, but I have no idea what it is. He smiles to himself occasionally as he’s playing, but I’m not sure if he notices he’s doing it. Most of the time his eyes are wide and open, concentrating, expressing.

Bo’s parents bought him a guitar when he was young, around eleven years old, and after taking classical lessons for a year he decided to drop it. He says he wasn’t passionate enough, for the mind of an eleven year old is busy in the imaginary world. Now playing guitar helps him rediscover that feeling, but back then he didn’t need it for that purpose. He didn’t pick the guitar back up again until the fall semester before he came to CC as a winter start. It was at this time he wrote his first song.

“It was kind of an exorcism. I felt really troubled I was a bit heart broken you could say, but there was more than that going on. I was very isolated. I’d been thinking for a while. I had an internship on a farm for a few months and that whole time I was thinking about music and really wanting to involve myself with music. I had remembered 3 or 4 chords so I just played those until lyrics occurred to me.”

He played that first song for me. It was melodically advanced, honest, and beautiful. When he finished playing I wished he’d play it again. Bo approaches his songwriting in an incredibly mature way. He seems to have a tight grasp on where he stands in his musical capabilities and knows what he wants to keep working on.

“I still work on annunciation. I think singing has been a visceral act, it’s very cathartic, but I also like to write lyrics and be very deliberate with what I sing. I’m trying to find a balance between losing myself and singing and conveying a message to an audience.”

I asked Bo about his influences. The first few that came to his head were Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, and Marvin Gaye. Talking about his influences brought up a concept that he referred to as the “anxiety of influence.” He talked about the pitfall of touching too much on your influences and never achieving a sense of individuality- something that happens when you’ve been too cultured into a movement of singer songwriter. It’s not definite, but rising above it requires practice, attentiveness, and time.

“I think it has to do with really… it has to do with practice, and close attention paid to your influences. It’s tricky in that way because many say that the beginning is imitation. All you can do is imitate the greats and maybe create something that touches on the excellent qualities that you admire so much, but at a certain point after you’ve read and read and are a more experienced player and writer, I feel that those artists are in dwelling, you know, you carry them with you and you’re unconsciously writing with certain turns and techniques that they used. But because you don’t realize it, it’s something unique and original. It’s applying a different aesthetic quality than your own to your perception of the world. It’s really living with those subjects.”

Bo says he is still working towards achieving an individual style. He doesn’t think he’s old enough or that he’s had enough experience. I understand what he’s saying, but I don’t think I’m a close enough listener to really notice this lack of uniqueness. I’m inclined to disagree with his assessment of himself. I haven’t heard another performer at CC that sounds like Bo, or even comes close to echoing his creative ability. His lyrics are honest and creative, and he delivers them in a way that is incredibly deliberate.

I’ve only seen Bo perform a few times outside of our interview, and every time he was alone. I asked him about it, and he told me he’s started to play with other people more recently. Bo isn’t musically educated, he plays by ear, and so in the past he hasn’t been confident in his abilities to play with other musicians. As he’s grown more experienced that’s changed, however, and he’s even given some thought to starting a band.

“I’ve thought about cover bands, that’s a really interesting idea to me. A band that would do all rockabilly music, like Buddy Holly, of Chuck Berry, those kinds of songs. It’s part of my music preference, and it’s also music people still dance to even though it’s 70 years old, which I think is fascinating.”

Bo says that music is about sharing each other’s creative work, and that sometimes the music scene here can be too exclusive.

“We need to engender creative conversations, and that starts with people wanting to share.”

Bo says he’s going to continue playing open mic at Sacred Grounds, and maybe even try to play at Coburn Unplugged. If you’ve never heard Bo play, you really should try and go see him. He has a sound that will make your heart hurt- not in a bad way, but in a way that’s incredibly vulnerable, even meaningful. Listening to Bo play alone in his room left me feeling inspired, and all I can say is that I am waiting to hear his voice again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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EP OF THE DAY: Tom Misch & Carmody – “Out to Sea”

Tom Misch & Carmody’s debut EP “Out to Sea,” released on December 8th, strikes a beautiful combination of R&B and electro-dream pop. The EP features five duets from the London-based duo. Misch, at 19, is an up-and-coming songwriter who makes tracks from his bedroom studio and just created a new label called Beyond the Groove (check it out here).

Their lyrics speak of love and loss and have their illustrative strengths and downfalls, but I think the most striking aspect of the EP is how Misch and Carmody’s voices gently interweave to create a real groove. On “So Close,” the EP’s strongest song, syncopated handclaps, quick guitar riffs, and other beats create a lively backdrop for the close harmonies between the two. Misch’s voice also carries a few traces of James Blake. He’s definitely one to watch. Check out the EP for yourself.

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An Interview with Austin Langsdorf

I know Austin pretty well, so when he told me he wouldn’t let me interview him unless I bought him a banana I reluctantly handed him my gold card. He came back a few moments later with no banana, reporting that none were ripe enough to meet his satisfaction. He slid into the seat across from me, folded his hands over one another, and looked me straight in the eye.

Austin started playing piano when he was five, was singing before that, and learned guitar when he was twelve because he thought it was cool. He started writing his own songs on a camping trip when he was fifteen.

If you watch Austin play it’s easy to notice his impressive musicianship. He plays by ear, having never taken a real formal lesson until this year, and lets the music flow through him in a way you can see by the expression on his face.

“I’ve always played by ear and had a very moderate scale knowledge. I’m taking jazz lessons now to bridge the gap between feeling the music and playing by ear, and having some structure with a more theoretical basis. More scales diversifies what you can play so much.”

When Austin came to Colorado College he underwent a yearlong hiatus. Years of untrained playing were catching up to him, and as he continued to play more in college he found that his shoulders and hands were in pain from improper technique.

“I don’t think it was totally physical. At some point I decided that I couldn’t play anymore and just made it so I was either playing or not playing, instead of that I was doing it wrong and needed to learn to do it better.”

With the introduction of new lessons and a little alternative physical therapy, Austin has picked up his guitar again and formed a group on campus called Randy and the Reptiles. The band was formed last spring semester with a few different members, but only this year has the band found stability. Having a reliable group of people to practice with combined with a formal practice space has propelled them into new territory, allowing the members to feel comfortable with one another and progress musically.

“I’ve always wanted to play music with other people. I didn’t push it for a really long time and I would play by myself or with one other person. It’s a lot different to jam and present your music to an audience. It’s kind of selfish to be a talented musician and not share it with other people. Music isn’t just about having a hobby, for me, it’s a powerful tool to bring people together. To have tons of people dancing and smiling together is an awesome thing.”

Randy and the Reptiles has filled a void in the music scene at CC. The current bands on campus are full of good musicians, perform well, and are fun to watch. However The Reptiles offer an emotional experience that is not found in many other groups. When they’re performing they give off a vibe that instills a sense of ease in the listener. By presenting themselves in a fun, comfortable, and relaxed way, they allow the listener to tune into this mindset and forgo any fear of judgment in a way that feels incredibly inclusive.

“There are bands on campus that I think are a lot better than us technically. Their musicianship and what they can play together is much tighter. I think honestly there’s a long way to go in the development of our sound. I also think that’s what a lot of people don’t realize. The actual notes that you’re playing are maybe a quarter to half of what’s going on. The way that you present yourself and the dynamic of the band is vastly more important.”

If you’ve ever gone to a Randy and the Reptiles show, what Austin is saying becomes evident. They cover songs that people know and aren’t that technically complicated, yet the audience is incredibly receptive to their music. There has yet to be a Reptiles show where people aren’t generally having a fun, carefree time.

“Even when we play basic covers that we learned two days ago and practiced once, as soon as we present them in an open and relaxed way where we’re not worried, it feeds with everyone there who can open up and have fun.”

So what’s in store for Austin’s future? He plans to keep playing with Randy and the Reptiles until the end of this semester when most of the members will be graduating. After that, Austin has no idea.

“I have no fucking clue what I’m going to do. I’ll be playing music all my life.”

 

Photo Credit: Richard Forbes