local music

What Music Means To Me: Evan Balikos

Evan has been a good friend of mine since the days of Tumblr (hah). We bonded over our mutual love of music & writing, and have continued to remain friends since! Evan is an avid music listener, blogger, journalist & member of his college radio station! We had to ask him what music meant to him, and in return he gave us a poem interpreting the questions!

Check it out below!

Evan Balikos (Writer/Music Listener):

press play

It’s not magic but it’s cosmic

what can happen when our heads

connect to heads that are empty

pitchers waiting for sugar water

How they plead for meaning

How they fly across 10,000 globes

sharing their secrets lightning up the skies

cracking a ceiling they could never see in silence

And the words that drive those heads

up tall mountains born from fertile soil

are banners that demand to be hung from the sun

These sirens are unique Gods

They squeeze us into boxes or catapult us into bliss

their voices bind our eardrums to their lips

Never would we dare to try and stop them

We allow stringed weapons to rock us into submission

We are happily bending forward to an anthem

Demanding beats and kicks and strums and licks

that throws bodies into bodies and hands into hearts

Stirring the air into a twister of footwork

Creating colored effigies from ponderous banality

melting and buzzing and glowing all the time

They are able to feel and heal us by holding us in song

We bathe in earthquakes and headaches and mistakes of youth

We stand tall as an invulnerable world shakes within us

We spectate a battle of energy with no end in sight

And so it stands and so it remains

pressing play releases the army

pressing pause halts the war

Evan currently recommends Miami, FL locals - Palomino Blond.

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: Tre Turner

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Vocalist of Spirit Breaker, and generally good person, Tre Turner gave us his take on what music means - not only to him, but to scenes as a whole!

Check out what he had to say below!

Tre Turner (Musician/Vocalist):

“Most of our lives are filled with the strong and constant longing for something more. No matter how much we dive into things that make us happy, most of the time these things end up being conditional, predictable, materialistic,and unfulfilling. At least until one day you stumble upon something that consumes you.

For me, its Progressive Metal. A genre that is so unpredictable, unconditional, and breathtaking. If I could put it into a visual, it's a sky full of overwhelming colors, shape-shifting clouds, a vibrant burning sun with a soothing warmth, and lightly frosted moon with a calming wind in the evening air. For years, I've bared witness to bands expanding on their craft, uniquely redefining their sound and song structure. Periphery, Invent, Animate, and Veil of Maya are all examples of this. The odd time signatures, the complicated guitar-work, the ferocity of the drums, and the soul-infused jazz breaks speak love into this tired body. To me, this genre is love.

Nothing compares, though, to watching someone you know do it in your backyard. Blank Slate: a band paving bright sounds into a gloomy, oversaturated Michigan. What started off as a simple, experimental band has now grown into a storm of color that I've had the pleasure of watching rain over me side stage and intimately from a beautiful home. Something about a Frontwoman gliding her voice in and out of electrifying riffs and drum-work with elegance and charisma. I find myself in awe at the beauty of my local music scene.”

Check out Blank Slate on their Facebook page!

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: Mikie Mayo

Photographer: Richard Sanders

Photographer: Richard Sanders

Rapper & overall human of good vibes, Mikie Mayo has been in and out of the Philadelphia Music Scene for years, collaborating with peers and creating exciting content that pushes the limits, while also overcoming his own struggles with mental health and addiction.

Having been apart of Hook Showcases, and a crowd favorite, how could we not include What Music Means To Mikie Mayo! Check it out!

Mikie Mayo (Writer/Rapper/Collaborator):

Music: These relatable noises that visit you where you are at, take you somewhere you’ve been, somewhere you want to be, or somewhere you’ve never been before.

Currently, Mayo is rockin’ along to Flowermouths by People Eating Fruit, check it out below!

What Music Means To Me: Sierra Binondo

Photographer: Julie Yi

Photographer: Julie Yi

With Sails Ahead is a rising star out of New Jersey, pushing themselves and the limits of the post hardcore genre they’re up against. Sierra Binondo knows all too well what it means to be behind the microphone, but as an avid music listener, and active scene member, she was one of the first people that came to mind when we initially began this project - not to mention, Sierra’s a pretty rad friend & human being above all.

Check out what she had to say down below!

Sierra Binondo (Vocalist/Manager):

In my opinion, the closest thing we have to superhuman abilities is the ability to create music.

You know a beautiful song, or a gifted artist when you hear one - that stirring feeling in your gut; when the music finds the deepest corner in your brain and taps into a nostalgic sense of wonder. There are seldom things outside of everyday human interaction that can make us feel this way, without warning. Music is an extraordinary way of communicating with one another, and when you are a musician, you yearn to replicate this feeling by creating something that transcends yourself. Since age 13, I have never stopped writing and playing music, and I probably never will. I don’t know if I will ever achieve greatness on a plane of virtuosic capability, but I know that a part of me would be missing if playing music did not have a space in my life; if I just gave up.

The stylistic choices in my singing and playing have been altered and marked by every chapter of my life. It has brought me close with other people, and it has been a companion when I felt most isolated. The fact that I have the ability to recreate songs like my inspirations have before me, and be able to create something that is uniquely my own while resonating with others, is the most rewarding feeling. I feel strongly that I have grown into the person I have become because of my musicianship and meeting others who share the same aspirations as me. Being a musician, despite the ebb and flow of its challenges, has been the biggest joy in my entire life. I hope to forever continue learning, growing, and hopefully creating work that brings the same sense of belonging that music does to me.

Sierra is currently listening to NJ Locals, ManDancing, and their EP, Hands On 3. Check it out below!

What Music Means To Me: Brian Walker

Photographer: Brianna Spause

Photographer: Brianna Spause

Philadelphia DIY powerhouse and lead singer of acoustic indie act A Day Without Love, Brian Walker, had to be apart of our collaborative project What Music Means To Me! An active Philadelphia musician and human being, Brian is constantly raising awareness and asking questions for/about DIY culture - and, ultimately, how to do it better.

Brian Walker (Singer/Songwriter/DIY Extraordinaire):

Music is a flow of storytelling, emotions and expression. Without music I would be an uncontrolled and uneasy person. I believe that the gift of playing guitar and songwriting has allowed me to share my story and help me rise above my own adversities. In addition, writing songs has helped me find some truth about myself. When I discovered that I am able to share my thoughts on stage with others I learned more about my own feelings and the feelings of others. Matching myself with other people and myself helps me learn that I am not alone in my own feelings and to never give up on myself. In the past six years of gigging. I feel that I am more at peace with myself. The better I get at music, the better I get at finding myself at my own place of belonging.

Music means finding your tribe and expanding that tribe to create a larger purpose in life.

What that purpose is may vary on the individual.

My purpose is trying to tell myself that I am worth loving, I am worth friendships and I am worth existing in this world. Before playing music I did not feel like I had anything worth saying nor did I believe that anyone would ever want to listen to me or be my friend. Now that I play music I am able to inspire others, find myself, remove myself from negative thoughts, and work harder each day to become a more positive, stronger, and supportive person to the people around me.”

Brian is currently jamming to Ohio local, Esther, and their most recent album, Disillusioned. Check it out streaming below!