men in music

What Music Means To Me: Mochi Robinson

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One of The Hook’s most favorite music makers, Mochi Robinson, delighted us when he agreed to participate in our What Music Means To Me Series. The experimental artist has been one of our favorite to review, to talk about, and for almost four months stayed as our featured album!

Here’s what Mochi had to say about music’s impact on himself & growing up!

Mochi Robinson (Artist/Musician):

”Music wasn’t something I always had, it was something I had to find. But, once it gripped its teeth into me, I haven’t been able to look the other way.

Music has been a source of identity for me since middle school. As an interracial kid, growing up in a predominantly white area, I was able to shed the burden of trying to identify myself through race from music. It gave me an identity as an artist, and as a creative, which has been empowering ever since. Painting landscapes with sound, and being able to connect to so many people globally through one common denominator have been the most powerful tools given to me.

On the other hand, listening to music has become a tool to either narrate my own adventure, or to help sort through thoughts, always cathartic along the way. When the wintertime blues hit, Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago will always make its way to the top for a melancholic morning. Or if I need summertime energy, Kendrick Lamar’s to pimp a butterfly has the hits that slap and bring energy to the forefront. There seem to be songs and albums that surpass being songs, and remain in your life forever and never being obsolete however many times you listen, usually always because of its nostalgic connection. I.e songs your parents played growing up, first car mixed CD, Etc.

Recently, I’ve been able to add a good friend, Sam Bekt, to that list of songs. In his new record Selfie, the second song, “Switzerland,” is an absolute bop that brings a sense familiarity for me. Would absolutely recommend listening to the whole record, each track feels like its own character.”

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: Sam Gellerstein

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Sam Gellerstein plays trombone, but not just any trombone, the most beautiful trombone playing to hit your ears! Whether it was for Cute Girl From English or Jazz Performance, Gellerstein is a powerhouse in the Philadelphia, PA area if you want impeccable live sounds, and to hang out with a stellar & kind human being! We had to get his take on “What Music Means To Me” because music is such a huge part of Sam’s life, so we did!

Check it out below!

Sam Gellerstein (Musician/Dog Dad):

I think as humans, we are consistently striving, pushing, and struggling for the most we can get with the time we’re given. Now, in no way do I think it’s a bad thing, in fact most beautiful things are created for that specific reason. To create not for fame, or money, but because we the artist, absolutely HAVE to do it. Once we move on past the initial phase of deciding that we want to become artists for a living, we give ourselves some options. We can become jaded, and fall out of love, and forget what we got into this path for, or the path which I have chosen and hope to retain; unabashedly, and unapologetically grateful for what we have.

Music has given me so much more than just a “career”, it has given me a purpose. We are able to communicate love, sorrow, pain, and everything in between, when people can’t think of what to say, or how to say it. Now we are given the daunting, but incredible task of recreating that for someone else. So, I implore to the other young creatives, be grateful, be humble, and never forget why we did this. Reach down before the anxieties, the comparisons, the deadlines, and the bills. We do this, not only because we want to, but honestly we never had another choice.

Please listen to Max Swan's "The Fisherman", while I do play in his band I think this is an album that everyone needs to hear. He has poured his soul into this and I think you will all love it.

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: Eoin Murphy

Photographer: Aaron Jenkins

Photographer: Aaron Jenkins

Eoin Murphy has been a collaborator, peer, and heavyweight supporter in the experimental, jazzed up, indie scene here in Philadelphia. An audio engineer, instrumentalist, and lead in his own project, Brushstroke, Eoin is a come one, come all type of guy - and that’s just some of the stuff we love about him!

Check out his thoughts below on what music means to him!

Eoin Murphy (Audio Engineer/Instrumentalist/Singer):

Music to me has always been a form of communication, it allows me to say anything and feel anything in ways I could never put into words, it also allows me to truly meditate on my life and recenter my focus!

Currently, Eoin is bumping along to “Crispus Attacks” by Killiam Shakespeare, check it out below!

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: 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!

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!