PA Local

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: Katie Miller

Photographer: Stavi Xinou

Photographer: Stavi Xinou

Katie Miller of Kate Dressed Up has been working her butt off in the local scene to create music, network, and generally be a good human being. As an integral member of our local scene, we wanted to know what Katie’s thoughts were on music & what it means to her!

Check it out below!

Katie Miller (Singer/Songwriter/Instrumentalist):

”Emily reached out and asked me to write at least 250 words about what music means to me. Last night, I went to Union Transfer with my friends and saw Better Oblivion Community Center, a band I would call a supergroup made up of Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers. I cried 3 times during the show. On the way out, the task of writing this article jumped to the forefront of my mind.

Music means everything to me. Everything. Not an exaggeration. Music means everything to me.

Music is the way I connect to the world around me. In everything I do, in all my relationships with others, there’s music. It’s been that way since my very first memories and has never changed. My parents told me that at their very first parent-teacher conference (I’m talking nursery school, here), the teachers told them I was a great kid but that I sang a LOT, and loudly. It was probably Celine Dion. Point being, I’ve thought about music all day, every day, forever. It’s my deepest obsession and I could never change it if I tried, and I’d never want to.

As one so deeply in love with music itself, I look at myself and the world around me and see all the ways that music serves The Big Picture and all its infinite minutia. Music is a mandala of expression. We sing, we play, we listen, maybe we dance, and then it’s over. Music not only helps us celebrate, but it is the celebration itself. Music not only helps us grieve, but we literally pack our grief into the song until it becomes grief itself. We are able to lose ourselves in these vibrations and come out the other side changed. The creation of music is an extremely intimate thing, but we share these moments and people come together and connect through them in the most beautiful ways.

Having my feet planted in both Philadelphia and New Jersey means that I get to experience the best of both of these musical scenes and all the characters therein. Right now my favorite artist in Philadelphia is Elaine Rasnake, an incredible indie pop artist that I went on tour with in 2018. We now play in each other’s bands. Some other honorable Philly mentions include Secret Nudist Friends, Wallace, and Dominy. New Jersey seems to be constantly bursting with talent, but right now I’m really digging all the new stuff that The Vaughns and Lowlight have been putting out. Jeff Linden is another artist I listen to consistently; my favorite release is Sad Bastard Songs.

I feel blessed every day because music is central to my existence. In a way, that is living the dream: being able to spend time daily with this art form, whether it’s my own or other people’s. Having other people respond to my art, or feeling responses within myself to others’ art, is where the magic truly lies. We are able to reach one another at the most vulnerable level, and also experience our own vulnerability in doing so. My adventures with music have taught me to feel gratitude for my life and everyone in it, whose unwavering love, honesty, and support help me know that everything is working itself out.”

What Music Means To Me: Dustin Schumacher

Photographer: Andrew Ehritz

Photographer: Andrew Ehritz

Dustin Schumacher is a force to be reckoned with - a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, the Pennsylvania native has been bringing back emotion into the local rock scene with his ongoing project, Inner Temple (one of our faves, tbh).

Dustin Schumacher (Singer/Songwriter/Instrumentalist):

Music to me means no fear. For an instance, I am immortal. The world’s harm can no longer burden me. The dirt beneath my feet can no longer bury me. I’m as alive as I was when I left the womb. Music is the air in my lungs and the armor clenched tightly around my skin.

I feel like we’re too often surrounded by fashion trends that come and go, family and friends that don’t reach out, and toxic romantic relationships that are anything but fluid. One thing always stays constant and that’s musical release and energy. Too many people are afraid to be real with themselves and to others. Music demands you to be real. It holds you down on the floor and begs you to be completely naked and bare for it. It wants to see every inch of you from the inside out and then go back inside again. It wants to learn your deepest secrets that no one knows. It wants you in every definition and in every language, shape, and form. Music wants your emotional honesty and it can easily tell deceit.

The best songs we’ve heard are filled with singers who had tears in their eyes while reciting their poetic freedom and whose voices cracked and shattered from the emotional strain of hitting their highest note possible until their vocal chords ripped apart like a sharp knife through a tightly wound ball of yarn. Some call that imperfection. I call it human.

Dustin is currently hype on Wilkes Barre, PA natives, Toothless & their most recent EP from 2018, RED. Check out the EP streaming below!

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!