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Note, No. 04

Get to know this Louisiana-based lo-fi musician and animator.

“I create things,” his YouTube bio reads. “It’s mostly amateur art stuff, but I enjoy it.” His uploads--short animations, 3D models, visualizers, and bedroom performances of songs he’s made--reveal the work of an artist-in-the-making with an ever-blooming aptitude for his interests. The animated visualization of his latest song “Egg Sushi Salad Speaker Show” features two yellow rectangular speakers set against an orange background. (The rectangular duo obliquely reminds me of Kay Sage’s I Have No Shadow.) Two of their four circles resemble eyes; one, larger and in the middle, resembles a nose; and another, on the very bottom and even larger, resembles a mouth. The video is a succession of 15 different shots of the speakers, each approximately 12 seconds long. It’s interesting and it’s Internetesque. I find the song complemented by the video (and the video complemented by the song) stirring in its simplicity. The speakers somehow do look like they fall into the egg sushi salad category (whatever that even means). There’s a playfulness to these uploads (and to Note's enigmatic titles and entire body of work uploaded to the Internet so far) that I can’t help but like.

His songs are optimum for easy background listening, which is exactly what he intends. I’d best describe his music as a soothing, electronic and guitar-infused video game soundtrack. (After drawing this conclusion, I even discover one of his SoundCloud tags that reads, “idk, sounds like video game music.”) Incidentally, video games are another interest of his. He tells me that the Soulsborne Series is a personal favorite. “ESSSS” in particular was made with 5-6 instruments in a week, through Studio One (although he usually uses Logic Pro X). He tells me that he prefers sketches of art to full-blown artwork, indicated by most of the uploads to his online profiles, which often feel like drafts. Just several days ago, he excitedly shared that he received an opportunity to compose some songs for a local college theater production of Almost, Maine. I anticipate this will be his first composition opportunity of many. Still in the first stages of what can very well become his lifelong audiovisual career, here’s 19-year-old Note.

Who are you?

I am a musician and producer who has always wanted to do something musical with my life. I didn’t really know what until a few years ago when I picked up my first guitar (a cheap Fender Squier that an ex-girlfriend received as a Christmas present and never played), which just felt right.

I’m guessing that your immediate environment hasn’t been musical (which is to say, that you don’t come from a family of musicians), given that it took you awhile to figure out how to take your first musical step. If so, where would you say your musical impulse comes from?

A need to do something with my life.

What was your next guitar after the Fender?

A Schecter Diamond Series Omen Extreme, which I still use now. I bought it myself.

How long after first picking up the Fender did you make what you consider to be your first song?

It was right around my 17th birthday. I used a Presonus Audiobox 22, which I received as a birthday gift. I had been playing guitar for about a year and a half, maybe less, when I got my first audio interface and started writing. It was a crappy chord progression with a melody played over it. I don’t remember what I named it, but I was super proud of it. I also played the flute in my high school band. Before I started playing music, I was a super lazy kid. I’m glad that I found music, because I don’t think I’d want to be the version of me who is still lazy and boring.

How do you make your songs nowadays?

I’ve noticed my process starts one of two different ways: I’m either on my software and fiddling around to see what sounds cool, throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, or (like my very first song) I’m playing an instrument and I find a riff or a chord progression and expand on the idea. I don’t really put lyrics in my music, mostly because I’m doing this alone and I don’t have a good singing voice. Title selecting is probably one of my favorite things about finishing a song, because I feel like I don’t have traditional names for my music. It feels like it gives my music a sense of individuality and uniqueness.

A strong sense of individuality and uniqueness seems to be important in really paving a career in the music industry (and most industries, really). So it's a good sign that you're already figuring out how to incorporate your idiosyncrasies into your process.

Yeah, although sometimes the huge amount of musicians that are out there scares me--I’ve always wanted to do music in some way, shape, or form, and I don’t think that I can really compete. I would like to be friends with them, though. I love meeting other creative people and just talking with them. In general, I try and make my music sound as interesting as possible and give it weird names. I want people to look at the titles and say, “What does that even mean, how could you write a song about that?” And they’ll have to listen to find out. That’s not where I start my songtitling process from, though--usually an abstract thought pops into my head when I listen to the sounds. For example, I recently finished a song called “Egg Sushi Salad Speaker Show.” Like, what does that even mean, you know? The song isn’t directly about egg sushi salad, but that phrase is what came to mind as I was finishing and renaming it. The original title was “Tatsunami,” which doesn’t mean anything either. (It was the placeholder title.)

Not everyone can come up with strange titles--it's a fairly unique talent. You can apply it far and wide.

I agree. I will say that I really plan on figuring out the long-term specifics of my career aspirations in college.

Do you have a daily musicmaking routine?

No, it varies from day to day. Four days out of the week, I work five hour shifts, so I try and do some creative work whenever I’m not working. Video editing, 3D modeling, and animation are small hobbies, but sometimes I can’t help but just be lazy and watch Netflix.

When did you pick up these hobbies?

I’ve been on and off for a long time but really started getting into it at the beginning of this year. I wanted a visual medium for my music--I tend to view physical and visual art as being superior to music on its own. So I picked them up as different ways of conveying my art.

Favorite animators?

Felix Colgrave and Egoraptor (aka Arin Joseph Hanson). Double King by Colgrave is one of my favorite animations.

Which instruments do you play besides piano, guitar, and flute?

I try and play whatever I can put my hands on. I haven’t used flute in any of my songs yet, although that would be cool to try out.

Where are you from?

I was born in Montana, but I’m currently living in Louisiana. I hope to go to Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington next fall for music performance and composition.

What’s Montana like? It’s one of the states I haven’t yet been to.

The scenery is absolutely beautiful and the air feels so clean compared to Louisiana. It’s an amazing experience.

Is the scenery mountainous? (Hence the name Montana?)

Yes, mountains and plains as far as the eye can see.

Is there anywhere in particular that you hope to one day live?

Somewhere up north where it’s cold but not too cold.

Why Note?

I like how short it is. And I don’t think I’ve seen another artist with that name before.

The Spotify album art for your album Recovery is three individually bandaided fingers resting on a table. Why?

I wanted to be clever with the bandaids, and since I play guitar, I figured I could use my post-playing blistered fingers. It’s funny, I actually got a call from my dad asking what I did to my fingers after he saw the album. He thought I’d hurt them, but they were just for show.

Recovery is a straightforward and even serious title, which is surprising given that bizarre and somewhat nonsensical titles seem to be one of your specialties.

That’s true, I think the difference is that it’s an album name instead of a song name, so I wanted to make it a bit more serious.

Given the album title and cover art, though, I can understand your dad's phone call. How would you explain your aesthetic to someone who’s never heard your music?

I actually don’t have an aesthetic for my music, I mostly just make what I feel sounds good. And I’ve never really had listeners, so I’ve never really thought about explaining my aesthetic to anyone. Although if people did listen to my music, I would mostly want them to listen to it as background noise while they're studying, to enjoy and appreciate it while not having to pay microscopic attention.

Is this the kind of music that you personally prefer to listen to?

Yes, I’m really into lofi, electronic (no specific subgenre), and rock types. My favorite musicians right now are Louie Zong, Sarah Longfield, Rob Scallon, Nick Johnston, Polyphia, and CHON.

Do you consider any or all of these artists to be dream collaborators?

Yes, absolutely. It would be an amazing experience to collab with them, even though I don’t think I could contribute much because they are leagues above me talentwise.

Practice apparently makes perfect (or something close to it), so if you really stick with it, anything might happen. Do you perform live?

I currently have no experience with live performance, but I’m hoping to gain some before the year ends at local venues.

What's your equipment rundown?

The first Fender I used had a small amplifier, which I used for ~2 years. The Schecter I then got had bats in the inlays instead of birds or dots. It’s an amazingly beautiful metal guitar. I actually wanted to get into and only into metal music when I first got it, but a flood rolled through my town and its surrounding areas soon after I did, which really messed up the guitar for awhile. I traded my Fender for a 7-stringed guitar (I still mostly wanted to do metal at this point) and eventually sold both for my most recent guitar (an Ibanez bass). I sold the bass a few months ago for some extra cash, though. I wasn’t using it all that much. And I’ve had my interface for over two years. I hope to eventually have a Strandberg Headless guitar and an OP-1 from teenage engineering.

When and how did you start to get into genres besides metal (like lofi and electronic)?

I started with metal because

I thought it would be easiest with guitar. But I just loved making these other types of music more, so that's what I've done and am continuing to do.

Have you experienced many floods besides the one that damaged your Schecter? I’ve endured my share of hurricanes, but never a flood.

No, that was the worst we’ve had in our town and the surrounding towns in like, 100 years.

Speaking of the destruction of natural disasters: does the range of threats facing humanity (climate change, nuclear war, sociopolitical tensions, artificial intelligence, etc etc etc)--or even the very enigma of existence itself--ever keep you up at night?

I consider myself to be an optimistic nihilist. Actually, now that I’m thinking about this question, I feel that a big reason why I make music is to escape the world and its problems. In general, we’re all going to die, whether from old age or nuclear fire from idiotic political leaders. So I want to be satisfied with my life instead of worrying that my country’s going to war or that the planet’s getting too hot. As long as I keep my head where I want it, then I think that I’ll be happy.

Are there any other main reasons why you make music?

I’ve asked myself that same thing. I don’t have a sure answer. I don’t do it for any fans or friends or family--it just feels really nice to create.

Note is on SoundCloud, YouTube, Spotify, Tumblr, iTunes, Google Music, Twitter, and Instagram.

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By Cloude