Music Scene

What Music Means To Me: Jashon Bell

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Former Hook writer, and current friend, supporter and music maker, Jay Bell is a jack of all trades. Jay decided to sit down with us and take some time to think about What Music Means to him, and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with you!

Short & sweet, check out what Jay had to say below!

“Music is who I am. 

When I say that, I mean that music so deeply ingrained into who I am as a person that it’s figuratively impossible for me to describe myself to others separately from it. Ever since I first picked up a recorder in elementary school, or picked up the violin at 12, or picked up the guitar at 14, it’s been a driving force in my life.

Everything about it took me over completely. All the sadness, the pain, the loneliness, the happiness, the love; all of things I could express through sound made me feel like my life had become purposeful. Every noise has meaning and intent, and every composition is a piece of another person I can connect to. I could never draw or paint, but I could turn my overflowing emotions into symphony of art that everyone could understand. And as I grew as a musician, I found myself growing as a person. Therefore, if the things I can learn to do musically are infinite, then the ways I can learn and grow are infinite as well.”

Jashon recommends single “Insomnia” by Philadelphia locals, 4vr & SAD Marquise, check it out below!

What Music Means To Me: Jimmy Lo Fi

Photographer: Rachel Malvich

Photographer: Rachel Malvich

Jimmy Wilkens of The Sonder Bombs & Jimmy Lo Fi (as well as countless other music endeavors like Drag Daze & The Scuzzballs) is making his second appearance with The Hook Journal! The first being a gig back in Philadelphia, and now to share his thoughts on what music means to him!

Check it out below!

“It's hard to describe what music means to me because music is so abstract. I can't explain why myself, and thousands of other people, are willing to risk their health & financial livelihood all over 12 notes rearranged in different-yet-sometimes-the-same pattern. But for me, it's the only way I've ever truly been able to express myself. I tried drawing, I tried writing, but none of it stuck the way music did. Music allows me to connect with other people, to learn new perspectives, to discover things I like and don't like about people in a safe, constructive way. It also helps me make friends as an adult. I'm not in college anymore but I'm still in a community where I get to meet new people all of the time and that's pretty cool. Also, it's such a weird feeling listening to a song all the time and then meeting the creators of that song. You feel like you know them, but in reality you don't. That can be a good or bad thing, depending on the circumstance, but it's an amazing feeling when you meet that person and then end up being really good friends.

Music also means I get to help others.

Playing in The Sonder Bombs has been wonderful because the songs we put out have connected with people in ways that words alone may or may not have. Willow & I started this band a little over 3 years ago and it has grown beyond something we ever thought it would, and having people come up to us after shows to tell us how a song of ours has helped them through something, it's incredible. Willow is a superb songwriter and the excitement I feel when she says "I have a new song" cannot be contained because it means I get to find a way to add a piece of myself to it and then ultimately share it with others.

I guess all of this can be summed into on statement: Music means to me that you'll never be alone.

A local artist I've really be into lately is Teamonade. They just dropped an EP, THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING and they have this song "Wreck" that literally wrecks me. The lyric "...so much has changed in the worst way" has me doubled over because it had effectively ripped my guts straight from my body."

You can check out Teamonade down below & stay tuned for more artists as we delve into What Music Means To Me!


What Music Means To Me: Ky O'Connor

Core member of local band, Steve., Ky O’Conner has been apart of the music scene for as long as I can remember. An advocate for marginalized groups, and a human who asks tough questions, I’ve always admired them as someone who has no fear in speaking their mind and inciting important change. Especially in local DIY scenes in which we still harbor people who have done bad things, or those who have not been confronted about extremely dangerous topics & issues including sexual assault, and white privilege. They were one of the first that came to mind when this project was incepted, and I’ve never been more excited to read why someone was into music than Ky!

Check out what they had to say down below!

Ky (Musician/Advocate):

”Music helps me speak. I'm a very open person, and I feel my music reflects that. I like to tell my stories in ways that convey emotion, which is why I think I gravitated towards playing punk rock. Punk, to me, is unfiltered passion. Through music I found a voice that's loud and unapologetic. I listen to all kinds of music, so it's hard to define what shapes my creativity. I can pull apart any one of my songs and find subtle nods to the vocal melodies of Tammi Terrell, or the overall wordiness of my lyrics, something that I stole from Elvis Costello. I'm typically a first draft kind of person. I'm a big fan of letting whatever comes out be the entire song, so sometimes they're short, sometimes they're even shorter - I don't really care. I’m not a great songwriter. I think that is reflected in what I create, and I’m totally fine with being mediocre.

I love hearing anything new. When I find a new artist’s music, I listen for the rhythm, and if I like it enough, I'll come back to it and focus more on the lyrics if there are any. Both elements of a song exist to tell the story and that's the part that I really want to find. Through the vast community of DIY across the country I've found friends that I love as people and as artists. We share stories that bring us closer, build friendships outside of shows, and in DIY establishing out of state contacts is necessary if you want to keep going. The community allows me to see parts of the country I would otherwise never go to. It's thrilling for me to hear a lyric in a friend's song and be able to understand the reference, or catch a little guitar part I’ve heard them noodling around with for the past year.

Don't Be a Stranger by Nervous Dater is an absolute bop. It's a record that covers all the bases for me: good riffs, killer choruses, carefully crafted chord progressions, etc. When I heard the line, “I love in small doses...” from the song “Vominos” for the first time I cried because of how intense the build up is to that lyric, and it feels incredibly relatable for me.”

Check out Nervous Dater’s “Don’t Be A Stranger” streaming down below!

What Music Means To Me: Lauren DeSantis

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Lauren DeSantis is a NJ local entrepreneur & music goer & friend who does nothing but support not only her local scene, but the scene as a whole. As someone who has always loved music & impressed me with the genuinity and free-thinking, Lauren had to be part of our series!

Check out what she had to say below!

Lauren DeSantis: (Entrepreneur/Music Listener):

As an entrepreneur and a tournament softball player, I couldn’t envision life without music, as cliché as that sounds. Music plays a huge role in both of those passions. Music means literally everything to me. I live in band shirts. I spend all of my money on concert tickets and meet and greets. It’s just something that’s too hard to put into words sometimes, you know. It’s something you have to experience in order to understand. Nothing makes me happier than being in a sweaty pit at a metal show (even at 26 years old with bad back!). When I was in middle school, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Being my own boss was the ultimate dream of mine. I got into the music scene shortly after when I attended my first Warped Tour. From that very day, I knew I wanted to forever be involved with music. It has allowed me to meet so many great people, and discover so many talented musicians.

Music fueled me to start a project called Remedies (still in the very beginning steps) - which I’m gearing towards feeding both local and touring bands and artists while on the road. I have a bunch of friends that tour frequently, so I know how hard it is to eat an actual meal, and that it can get costly. My main goal is to be able to use a huge passion of mine to help keep the dream going for others. Music has allowed me to appreciate life more. It’s just something that can’t be explained.

One of my favorite songs from a local band that I jam to almost everyday is Hold My Breath by Forest Green, from Michigan. I found them on whim one day, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. Also, if you’re in a band and ever pass through the Ocean County area of NJ, and want to be fed, please feel free to reach out and we can set something up!

What Music Means To Me: Blake Horner

Photographer Credit: Original Photographer   (Plz contact us)

Photographer Credit: Original Photographer (Plz contact us)

Rich People is just one aspect of Blake Horner - a human being, a poet, a band member, a partner, a son and the first contributor for this month’s community out reach. Following up on a post we released last week called “What Music Means To Me,” we have set out to hear from contributors, friends, peers, colleagues from fans, to music makers, to visual artists, to writers, to people with opinions on things that seem important - and we asked them “What does music mean to you?”

Seems like a big question - but, we left it open for their interpretation, abstract or concrete, based in an art form or reality, using words or not, we just wanted to know. More importantly, we wanted to create the sense that, in all of our individual journeys, standpoints, behind a pen, or a microphone, or a stage, or a camera, the experiences we share give us commonality, hope, community - and, we can’t forget that.

Blake was one of our first respondents to the community effort - and, with his knowledge, basis, and general artistry, it’s sure to be an empowering read. Feel inspired, feel connected, feel like sticking it out - just one more day; but, first check it out below!

Blake Horner (Rich People/Poet/Artist):

”What does music mean to me? This is something I ask myself every single day. Something that I base every single move I make off of.

I made the firm decision when I was 17, (I’m 24 now), that I was going to do whatever it takes to make this my plan. I currently play in a band called Rich People, out of the Greater Philadelphia Area, that has been together since 2015. The process for anything worthwhile is draining, almost defeating at times. I do my best to keep a positive mindset about things. My mind is very business-oriented and I always try to find new ways of reinvigorating/reinforcing the concrete plans and goals I create both for myself, as well as group efforts that often span quite some time. If you haven’t yet decided on your concrete plans, think of what you want to do and how you can accomplish them. If something doesn’t currently exist for you to be a part of, or if nothing really feels like home, create it and figure out how you can collaborate with others and grow something substantial.

To be straightforward, you will just have to figure a lot of things out on your own; it’s definitely beneficial to ask friends for help, but at the end of the day, you should just go out there and fall on your face one thousand times. That’s why I’m proud to be a part of Rich People. We are four fully-committed friends who are constantly learning so much together. Throughout all of our hardships, there have been continuous victories that are only beginning to compound and unravel.

Although the journey can be so push/pull at times, the kind words from friends, family, and so many strangers, all make it worth the fight.”

Blake is currently listening to “Penny” by The Insides, a Philadelphia local - and you can check out “Penny” down below!