The Columbia music scene underwent something of a renaissance last year. As established acts like Morningsiders and Sun Looks Down prepared to graduate, a host of new and exciting artists set out to take their place. From EDM impresarios to weirdo scuzz-punks, here’s the 2014 guide to Columbia musicians.
Jack + Eliza
Members: Eliza Callahan, CC ’17, and Jack Staffen, NYU ’17
Sound: Nostalgic indie pop. Think She & Him with half the effort and twice the cool.
Claim to fame: Where to begin? The duo got signed last fall, performed at Music Hall of Williamsburg in the spring, have been named one of Time magazine’s under-the-radar artists to watch, and are set to release their debut EP, “No Wonders,” on Sept. 23. The duo worked with Mumford and Sons’ producer Chris Zane, so expect big things.
Essential lyric: “We’ll be playing in an old man’s world / Picking flowers off a corner store.”
Solid Gold Luxury
Members: Sean Delanty, CC ’16
Sound: Menacing future pop, replete with drones, air horns, and Lorde samples.
Claim to fame: Performances at WBAR’s WBANGERZ show, 4x4’s Punk Poetry, and the inaugural Hi-Fi Snock Uptown have made Delanty one of Columbia’s go-to DJs this past year. Delanty hinted at a debut release when we interviewed him in February—we’re still waiting in anticipation.
Essential quote: “I’m drawing from Oneohtrix Point Never, but I’m also remixing Miley Cyrus.”
Won Ton Death
Members: Jake Gagne, CC ’16
Sound: Acerbic genre-less queercore. Half Xiu Xiu, half Pavement, with just a hint of Beyoncé.
Claim to fame: Gagne is a hard worker. Since last summer, Gagne has released two original EPs, a covers EP, and multiple singles and remixes (including the immortal “Drowning in Hummus”). In July he put out his debut full-length “With Spiders.”
Essential lyric: “Do you know how hard it is to be your own big spoon?”
Members: Conrad Tao, CC ’15.
Sound: Classical but contemporary.
Claim to fame: Performing since toddlerhood, Tao has featured as a soloist with renowned orchestras in the States and worldwide. His debut album, “Voyages” was released last year, combining original material with arrangements of Ravel and Rachmaninoff. No wonder he was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts.
Essential quote: “It’s all about engagement with what classical music represents and has come to mean and, most importantly, what is the musician’s role today in the post-Internet age.”
Members: Miguel Gallego and Brian Thorn, both CC ’15, Alex Drivanos, Dan Lay, Berklee College of Music ’14, Jon Riemer, Vassar ’15.
Sound: #cirocnroll. Scuzzy garage punk extraordinaire.
Claim to fame: Earlier this year, the group released one of the weirdest concept albums in recent memory. “H*CKHOUND” takes in themes of death, loss, and the body, along with morbidly obese beagles and skeletal dream-dogs. Odd, tragic, and infinitely catchy, “H*CKHOUND” is essential listening for rock fans and dog lovers alike.
Essential quote: “We are a ‘rock ’n’ roll group.’ We are staunch goths. We want to show you a good time!”
Members: Mitchell Veith, CC ’15
Sound: Uplifting polyrhythmic EDM, like Porter Robinson with classical training.
Claim to fame: Veith came to the attention of the Columbia community in a big way last semester, jointly winning Bacchanal’s Battle of the Bands with California Love and opening for Lupe Fiasco at last year’s spring concert.
Essential quote: “I think a lot of EDM these days is just about the drop and how hard it can hit. As nerdy as it sounds, I try make my music more artful.”
Members: Nick Perloff, CC ’14
Sound: Emotional trap.
Claim to fame: After winning a nationwide DJ competition last summer, Perloff has had a stellar year. Along with a series of blistering remixes, he released his debut vocal track, “Erode,” and was hired to perform at Bacchanal along with The Chainsmokers and Lupe Fiasco.
Essential lyric: “Watch my body explode, bursting in the air / As my blood erodes, and there’s nothing left.”