What Music Means To Me: Tyson Evans

Credit to the photographer, please contact us

Credit to the photographer, please contact us

Longtime pal & talented musician, Tyson Evans, (you know from Crooked Teeth), took time out of his busy schedule to enlighten us on what music means to him!

We’re super stoked to share Tyson’s thoughts with you, so check out what he had to say down below!

“What does music mean to me? Literally everything. It’s been with me since I was little kid listening to Matchbox 20 and Dixie Chicks driving to school with my mom. It drew me in completely when I saw Green Day’s music video for “American Idiot” at 13. I knew at that point I had to do whatever it took to get my hands on a guitar and write songs of my own.

I started my first band at 15 with some friends from my hometown. That band took me across the country countless times, was the vehicle that led me to new friendships near and far and ultimately threw me into a sense of community I never found in church or sports or school. 

Today, at 26, it still holds the same weight. I still get excited when someone introduces me to a new band or artist and I still love getting up on stage whether it’s in front of 5 people or 500. 

Right now, a band from LA that has my attention is Mermaed. The alternative punk band fronted by rightful cool kid, Arielle, is everything I wanted and needed from a band in 2019. They’re bringing the nostalgia of bands I grew up listening to such as Hole and Green Day while offering  up their own massive pop hooks to the mix. I first heard Mermaed on the KROQ Locals Only hour that Crooked Teeth was also featured on. They’ve released two undeniable bangers so far and I am so stoked to see where they grow the band from here!”

We never know what’s next (well, sometimes we do) so stay tuned to find out with us, and thanks for reading!

What Music Means To Me: Jay Sakong

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Composer, singer & core member of up & coming band, OWEL, Jay Sakong took some time recently to sit down with us at The Hook Journal & let us in to what music means to him!

We’ve got it all down below, so take a moment and enlighten yourself!

“For me music is the thing that can make mundane moments feel cinematic. A random smile from a stranger on a subway ride, perfectly timed with a song playing in your ear buds will make you remember why you're alive. And why it's good to be alive.

Music is a time machine that can teleport you back to moments that you may not have realized were so special while you were living it the first time. But there you are, able to relive it again and again like some kind of life hack/cheat code.

Music is a drug I use to give me my second wind while exercising, when I'm too out of breathe to even hum the melody I'm hearing.

It's a warm blanket for the days that you're down and a cool breeze for the days that you're up.

And all of that is just in regards to consuming it. Making it brings me a whole other layer of joy and purpose.

When it comes to creating, music is the children I may never have. So that if I end up an old man without ever having had a family, I can rest easier knowing that at least I put some part of myself into this world.

Really, music is just the primary avenue I take to create art. So maybe it's not just music that I'm specifically obsessed with, but more so just the act of creating. If my worst fear ever came true and I lost my hearing, perhaps I would pursue filmmaking or painting or the culinary arts. Whatever it is, I do believe that creating is just as vital to a human being as consuming. We must consume in order to nourish our bodies, but the act of creating will often nourish everything else.”

We’ve got lots more exciting content coming up, so stay tuned for more of What Music Means To Me, and music and life, generally!

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: Shai Bender

Shai Bender isn’t just a boss front woman, vocalist & guitarist in Copley Woods, she is also an active member of the Philadelphia DIY scene. Shai shared with us what she felt about music, and we’re here to share it with you - check out Shai’s What Music Means To Me down below!

“What does music mean to me?

A variety of things honestly: loss, love, anger, pain, happiness, disgust; these are all things that can be evoked from music in all its forms. For me, music has always been an outlet, somewhere I can have some form of therapy. Performing and being on stage has given me freedoms I never would have had in my daily life, and allowed me to process complex emotions under the guise of metaphor, or through direct response. Copley Woods especially has been a project where I can continue to explore relationships in abstract concept; relationships with my mental health, gender identity, and relationships with the people around me. So as far as what music is to me personally, it’s the extreme concentration of my internal perceptions of myself, and external conflicts, whether it’s lyrical or even instrumental. I write a lot of my guitar parts to play off of the emotion of the song we’re working on, as well as to show off my technical prowess. A perfect example of my play style the is the breakdown in our most recent song “Missing Time” is raw and dizzying. The song is about someone experiencing PTSD flashbacks about being abducted by Aliens, and I wanted to reflect the chaotic and painfully experience of reliving someone violating your autonomy, something that I can say I have sadly been through.

I also wear my influences on my sleeve, and a lot of Jane Doe and Harms Way’s recent release from 2018, Post Human, certainly played a central role in the development of that part, which also happen to be both emotionally charged albums about abuse and general anxiety. So for me, music is purely self-expression, whether it’s hardcore, jazz, hip hop, or even country western and folk; it has to trigger some form of emotional response. “

Check out Shai’s influences down below, and stay tuned for more on What Music Means To Me!

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: David Lisowski

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David Lisowski is a Tri-State area native, and one of the best photographers around!

The first time I listen through a song, I never listen to lyrics. At least, I don't make an effort to listen to lyrics. The first listen through is always about the music and how it makes me feel. It's for deciding what mood the song is for. Some of my favorite songs, I hardly know any words. That's the power of music for me- it's this language-less thing that anybody can connect with and that connects others. Why else would hundreds of strangers pay money to pack into a room and stand on their feet for four hour straight? That's what music is to me, among so much else.

Once I know the words to a song, it's passed a personal rite of passage, meaning it's a song that means enough to me to dive into it a little deeper. For some reason this usually ends up being the pop punk/heavy songs, I don't know why that is haha. The awesome thing about that is the ridiculous talent we've got in Philly for that. The dudes in Midfield, who I'm lucky to call great friends of mine, are writing insanely catchy songs- and yep, I could recite all the lyrics by heart, haha. Something about their music in particular feels nostalgic to me, like the music I "grew up" listening to during those shitty early high school years. The music they make just kinda resonates with something that's made me who I am, and being around those guys during the recording process reminded me of the first music I loved that I found on my own.

All in all, I guess it's hard to avoid the cliche, but I wouldn't be who I am without music in my life. To this day it's such a key part of all aspects of my life, everyday and professionally, and sometimes it's easy to take that for granted. I think all of us should stop every once in a while and appreciate it more than we normally do.”

What Music Means To Me: Dean Ridgeway

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Our good pal & former Hook writer, Dean Ridgeway, recently rose from the ashes to remind us why he’s amazing, why he likes music, and most importantly, what music means to him!

Check it out below!

Dean Ridgeway (Musician/Writer):

Music means a lot, obviously. But to me, music has always been a shorthand for energy, for communicating direct feeling and tone. As a kid, I was convinced that I wasn’t a fan of music. I wasn't into any bands or anything like that. But what I did listen to was movie music, because I watched a lot of movies. John William’s scores for Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Superman, and Star Wars. The music in those movies provided you with a way to feel the way the movie wanted you to feel. It was dynamic and full of emotion to enhance any moment. And you always knew what emotion to feel, and it controls you with simple composition. Someone wrote that! And I cry when the Superman motif happens! Like, what?! Music is an enhancement of storytelling. Music fills in the emotional gaps of an experience like water in a jar of rocks.

I eventually expanded into listening to other kinds of music. There are so many types of experiences and genres to explore, I was bound to get interested in a few of them at some point. But the whole concept of “music as emotional shorthand” stuck with me. Structuring playlists, set lists, and moment-to-moment music are some of my favorite hobbies. I get goosebumps when the right song hits at the right time. I definitely try to channel that feeling into the art I make.

So to me, music is shorthand for feelings. A perfect blend of how a moment feels and how to convey it all at the same time.”

What Music Means To Me: Ari Michaels

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Ari Michaels has been a compassionate friend of ours, an opinionated woman, and someone who celebrates Body Positivity for femme folx of every shape & size. A truly inspiring, and not to mention, hugely talented human being who we’re happy to have as part of our What Music Means To Me project.

Check out Ari’s thoughts down below!

Ari Michaels (Advocate/Singer/Songwriter):

”I think one really special thing about music is that just about everybody likes it. Even with a variety of genres to favor over others, music has an ability to be objectively uplifting, to bring us to dance or tears, to recall memories and help us escape. Everyone is welcome in music, everyone has a spot. Shower acoustics and highway breeze car-rides can transport a person into their rockstar fantasies, just as overhearing “Take On Me” by AHA on the radio can trigger a sweet, hilarious memory.

Lately I find myself listening to funk like Parliament Funkadelic, upbeat Hip Hop like Anderson Paak. or pretty much anything under Soul, old and new. It makes me feel slick and reminds me how cool I am, since I forget from time to time.

Point blank, music address a core desire in all people which is a sense of belonging. A local artist who I feel encapsulates this feeling is Remember Jones, a Soul/Pop singer out of Asbury Park, NJ. The album “Tranquilizer!” is full of tight band hits and old-school harmonies. RJ produces hypnotizing melodies and original lyrics that’ll pull you in like a magnet and bring you to your feet. I’m thankful I’ve been able to see RJ live on a handful of occasions because the live performances completely transform the listening experience. Not only does the band have intense energy on stage, but all the members actively turn their performance into a space for you to let go and join in.

You’re never left out of the Remember Jones experience.”