Tune into local music at Sound Off

Trevor+Eulau+and+his+quartet+performing+at+the+third+Sound+Off.+

Preethika Makineni

Trevor Eulau and his quartet performing at the third Sound Off.

Alissa Lau and Preethika Makineni

This year, the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) hosted its 21st annual Sound Off music showcase during late February and early March. Sound Off is held to highlight young and upcoming artists ages 21 and under in the Pacific Northwest. The showcase occurred in three separate installations on Feb. 19, Feb. 26 and Mar. 5, each presenting different artists from varying musical genres such as hip hop, indie rock, electronic, blues and pop.

During each set, the neon stage lights cast a colorful light on the audiences, the artists and the stage. The acoustics of the MoPOP Sky Church caused the music to be felt throughout the room and the audience. Behind the stage, there was a screen that projected animations, which matched the performers’ songs and the ambience of the performance. Overall, the concerts were a nice and refreshing experience that provided a fresh view of the local music scene. 

Instant Crush was the first band to perform at Sound Off 2022. Instant Crush is an indie rock band from Seattle, Washington, which formed over the summer in July 2021. For lead singer Megan Cannon, the band was a dream come true.

“When I was a little kid, I always wanted to be a rock star,” said Cannon. “I grew up playing the Xbox game Rock Band. And ever since then, I just wanted to be on stage.” 

Although pursuing music professionally is a potential career path, it is not easy for independent artists such as Instant Crush to make money. Guitarist Keegan Mangahas understands this reality, and looks to other career options to support himself economically.

“I’m about to finish college. So that’s a big major stepping stone for me,” he said. “I can still pursue music as much as I want, but I also have the option to get a job if I need to. It’s a nice balance between the two.”

At 16 years old, Emma Wang and her band were the youngest of this year’s Sound Off performers. Wang and her band attend Eastside Preparatory school and they formed a month prior to the Sound Off showcase. All three members were familiar with each other through school and extracurricular activities. Despite their skill and experience in musical performance, Wang and her band said they must consider the rationality of pursuing music professionally and making a career out of their art. 

One of the main ways that artists make profit from their music is from touring and merchandise, said the band’s keyboardist Oliver Crosby. Regardless of whether or not they pursue music professionally in the future, Wang and her band enjoy making music together. 

Many artists that performed at Sound Off were musicians who were experimenting with performance. For jazz pianist and electronic artist Saezo, Sound Off was the first time he had performed on his own. Through his music, Saezo said he has an outlet to work through his feelings of self doubt and imposter syndrome (the feeling of being incompetent despite knowing your work) within the competitive music industry. Saezo said he is currently considering the idea of pursuing music professionally, but he is accomplishing a dream just by performing his electronic act. 

Musical artists often take years to perfect their showmanship, but hip hop aficionado Kiddusfecto makes his rapping and dancing look as easy as breathing. Taking inspiration from artists such as Kanye West, Kid Cudi and MIA, Kiddusfecto said he has been performing since seventh grade. 

Vancouver-based Latino rapper Refugio also gained interest in music in middle school and has been producing and rapping ever since. He takes influence from many hip hop artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill, André 3000 and Tyler the Creator. Songwriting and rap is an important outlet of self expression and activism to Refugio, who says it is his favorite way of expressing himself.

“You could take someone who doesn’t really agree with me or doesn’t really care that much about what I have to say,” said Refugio, “But if they like the music, then it’s kind of just like, they have to hear it either way.” 

For guitarist Trevor Eulau and his jazz quartet, music has always been a defining part their lives. The quartet formed during late January of this year, and they utilize improvisation as their main tool when performing. One member of the quartet usually writes the basis of the song, and the rest of the quartet improvises as they’re playing. 

“The thing with jazz is the sheet music is very vague, or doesn’t give as much detail as something like classical music wherever a note is dictated because we’re really all actively involved in the compositional process,” said the quartet’s bassist Tony Lafay

To get involved in future Sound Off performances, you can find information on the MoPOP website (www.mopop.org). Recordings of the 2022 Sound Off performance can be found on the MoPOP Youtube channel. Sound Off is an opportunity for passionate musicians to find their outlet. 

“Music is really a way of appealing, comes from the deepest part of the heart,” said Eulau. “There’s nothing like it in terms of bringing people together. That, to me, is a really beautiful thing.”