The OSYX Interview

Photo Credit: Farrah Skieky

Dec 12th – Alternative Sound brings you another interview with the amazing rockers of D.C. band The OSYX! You can read the full interview below to see what the band has to say about their art, the D.C. scene, and where their sound comes from!

Photo Credit: Farrah Skieky

Welcome to Alternative Sound! First off, tell us your names, pronouns, and who does what in The OSYX!

Selena Benally – She Her – vocals, guitar, bass

      Ara Casey – She Her – vocals, guitar

      Erin Frisby – She Her – vocals, guitar, keys, banjo

      Maya Renfro – She Her – bass, vocals, guitar

      Robzie Trulove – She Her – drums

‘The OSYX’ is a really cool name for a band! Does it have a special meaning or back story?

The band is named after the famous Yellowstone wolf, The 06 (that’s the pronunciation oh-six), named after her birth year. She was an unusual wolf, large, capable of bringing down a mature elk on her own. She revitalized the Lamar pack in the park by becoming a pack leader and taking two younger males as her partners. The pack operated in a super nontraditional way and she led them to growth and success before she was shot by a trophy hunter in 2012. The pack is still strong from her legacy. Her story kept popping up as we were deciding on a band name and we figured it was meant to be. Interestingly, concepts surrounding the wolf pack find their way into our collaboration and structure all the time.

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?

      Unlike a lot of bands, we have multiple songwriters and lead singers. We jam a lot and write together so there is a really diverse and full sound that draws on all of our individual influences. We also layer three guitars most of the time, and sometimes introduce unexpected instruments like cello, banjo, or harmonica so there’s some complexity laced into the more overt post punk and riot grrl influences. We sound like Joan Jett, The Breeders, Sleater Kinney, and Fanny got to hang out and become best friends and then jam together. 

Are there any particular bands or artists who influence your music?

      Since we’re all contributing writers we bring a ton of influences to the band. 

There are way too many to count! A smattering of influences would include – Heartless Bastards, Courtney Barnett, The Distillers, Black Sabbath, PJ Harvey and The Breeders, Karen Carpenter and Stella Mozgawa

Y’all are from the D.C. area, right? How has living in that city affected your music? Are there any inspirations or hardships that come with living there?

We live in the DMV, technically all of us live in Maryland and that highlights one of the difficulties in this area. It’s extremely expensive to live here. The city is taking steps to help artists survive, but with a lack of practice space, and cost of living, combined with the need to have flexible work hours for practice and touring it can be pretty tough in this town.

On the other hand, we enjoy an incredibly diverse and active music scene. We have some excellent DIY spaces as well as historic rock clubs and all ages spaces. Independent music is deeply rooted in D.C. from Go-Go to punk, this music scene has long supported outspoken, brave music that doesn’t bend its will so easily to the music marketing machine. That’s made it a perfect place to find a community that naturally wants to rally around lesser-heard voices.

Your new self-titled record is really good! What was it like taking those songs from ideas to a completed record?

The band started out as a way for a couple of us to get together and jam on some new ideas outside of the bands we were already in. We’re all a little blown away by how quickly we meshed, started performing and were ready to record, especially since some of the songs were brought in by three of us almost totally finished arrangement wise while others were fully collaborative and stemmed from improvising together or splitting up songwriting tasks like lyrics or writing a riff or chord progression. The vision for the record fell into place pretty easily after playing a ton of live shows together last year. We recorded totally DIY at Erin and Maya’s house and at a friend’s historical home nearby. We got to tour Furnace Records our local vinyl pressing facility when we picked up boxes of our brand new record there. It was pretty surreal and exciting. Of course some of the songs have changed a little by now just through playing them over time. But we’re really happy with the record and feel like it captured the togetherness and excitement of our stage show.

Which do you prefer- the grind of the studio, or the rush of on-stage performances?

      Both! Live shows are exciting because it’s the ultimate trust exercise. You’re in real time, playing as a team. Things invariably go wrong. We had an amp die mid set on our first tour date. But we made it work. It’s reassuring to know that the band has everyone’s back and that we will make it through. It’s also exciting to feed off of the energy from the audience whether it’s a brand new audience or supporters who have been there from the get go. Sometimes our audience members howl during the set (an homage to the 06). That kind of feedback from the audience really participating can heighten the emotion and excitement around a performance. 

      Studio work is fun too though. So far we’ve done a lot of it ourselves and with help from friends so there is a ton of creative control and not as much pressure to get things done within a very restricted time frame. Several of us have varying degrees of experience as engineers/producers and we enjoy coming up with studio ideas like having our friend Hannah Sternberg sit in on cello. 

Playing music on as serious a scale as The OSYX does comes with its own set of challenges and frustrations. What’s the most rewarding thing about being in a band, and particularly a DIY band? Have there been any moments for you that make you think, ‘oh yeah, this is all worth it?’

            All the time! We have a very special camaraderie as a band. We spend a lot of time together doing things outside of playing. It’s extremely rewarding to make music with people you care about as artists and as friends. We’ve benefitted from a ton of community support spiraling out from our close-knit circle as well. It always feels good to hear from women and young people who feel inspired by the band and who tell us about their musical studies or aspirations. We had such a good time on our recent tour supporting the record both from traveling together and from meeting new bands and fans, it was by far and away the most fun and relaxing tour any of us has been on. 

The OSYX is on a D.C. collective called This Could Go Boom!. How did y’all get involved in that project and what’s it like making music under a collective?

This Could Go Boom! is a 501 c 3 nonprofit that the members of The OSYX founded around the time we were talking about doing a crowdfunder to put out a record. That idea felt really flat to us because it was so temporary and only encompassed one project. It felt like there had to be a better way to harness the community energy that was surrounding the band to make some positive changes in the world. We’re all very passionate about gender equality in the music world and that seemed like the perfect place to start. TCGB! offers record label services, educational opportunities, and performances for womxn and nonbinary students, professionals, and hobbyists in all aspects of the music business. We run off of donations and anyone wanting to help support what we do can donate here: https://www.thiscouldgoboom.com/

What would you say to anyone considering getting involved in music?

There are so many fulfilling ways to be involved in music. The idea of the music industry is always butting heads with music as a fairly universal, prehistoric, free concept, one that is the inheritance of all people and to be equally shared and enjoyed. We present a workshop on making improvisational music with other people for musicians at all levels and absolutely encourage anyone and everyone to participate in music making and to enjoy it with their friends. Those artists who are putting in the tireless hours to perfect their craft and hone their vision deserve the chance to be heard and to contribute to the shape of our culture regardless of the marketability of their identity. That’s why we created This Could Go Boom!

Are there any stand-out moments from your time in The OSYX that made you really proud or excited? Anything that really felt like a high-point for your music?

We got to participate in this really cool free public performance this past summer with two local bands that we love, Bacchae and Park Snakes that was produced by Smithsonian Folkways. It was such a fun show. It was outdoors, accessible, attended by people of all ages. We had a blast. It’s also been an honor to receive feedback on the record from esteemed journalistic voices like Jim DeRigotis of Sound Opinions who said the album was one of the best heavy albums he’s heard all year. That’s a thrilling thing to experience with a debut record.

The OSYX must have some really cool things coming up! Any plans for the future you want to share?

We’re already writing new material and starting to plan a tour for spring 2020. We’ve been asked to contribute a track to a forthcoming 7-inch and we’ll be playing a concert at The Smithsonian Luce Center in April. Stay tuned for new releases from This Could Go Boom!

What’s the #1 reason everyone should check out your music?

      There’s a lot to sink your teeth into artistically on the record. We weren’t beholden to anyone in writing or producing it so we didn’t hold back and it’s pretty honest music making. It’s also kind of unique for a band to make space for as many artistic voices as we do. You can really get lost in the journey of unraveling where the individual voices cross over each other and weave a collaborative and complete piece. We each got to showcase major strengths on the record and the result is a powerful musical alliance between five women. 

Any last words?

The OSYX and This Could Go Boom! are both really active on Instagram and Facebook so be sure to follow us for upcoming events and musical treats.

@theosyxband

@thiscouldgoboom

Huge thank you to The OSYX for being a part of Alternative Sound! Make sure you check them out on Spotify and follow them on Facebook via the links above to stay up-to-date on everything they’re doing! ❤

Photo Credit: Farrah Skieky

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