After releasing their music video “The Unconquered” under the university’s Cozy Concert series, student band Ownlife is expecting to make a comeback in the summer.
Collaborating has been difficult after bassist Mat Benavidez moved to Chico for school.
Band member Jesse Haugen remembers the joys of older performances.
“Everyone we love is in the same place making a lot of noise,” said Ownlife guitarist and current film and television composer, Jesse Haugen. “It’s a group of friends enjoying or hating the music together.”
While Ownlife is a recently formed band, the members have long history together.
“Some friends come together and smoke weed,” Haugen said. “We come together and make music.”
Members of Ownlife have been playing together since high school under the name Catachresis, which was changed to Ownlife for purposes of practicality.
According to third year music industry studies major and guitar player for the band Jordan Di Donato, the name Ownlife derived from George Orwell’s book, “1984.”
“Ownlife is people doing things because they enjoy it,” Di Donato said. “It’s doing something because I want to, not because anyone is telling me to.”
Ownlife is an unconventional band. It’s a melting pot of genres. Each member has various musical influences from post rock, jazz and heavy metal.
Rather than choosing to fit into one genre, Ownlife incorporates elements from various genres.
“It broke the rules,” said Mat Benavidez, Ownlife bassist. “When we made the band we didn’t want to solidify into one genre.”
Considering the band doesn’t fall into one genre, it was difficult for members to decide on a song to perform for the CPP cozy concert series.
Members agreed to perform their single “The Unconquered,” because it shows the band’s capabilities.
“It’s a song we’re proud of because it’s really complex and it has a lot of elements and interesting harmonies and it showcases a lot of our strong points without being outrageous to listen to the whole time,” Haugen said.
With their roots as a high school band, much of their support came from friends and family; the band didn’t start making a name for themselves until they started playing at shows.
“The first show was Battle of the Bands at La Mirada county fair, and we didn’t think we had a shot at winning,” Benavidez said. “We ended up getting first place and it was very rewarding and people recognized us after that.”
Ownlife started hosting an annual music festival of their own every summer in Benavidez’s backyard.
“It’s a really fun event,” Benavidez said. “We have 10 bands play from noon to midnight and it felt like an actual music festival, because my backyard is quite large.”
All bands are welcome to play and they’ve had a variety from blues rock, jazz, metal and folk pop.
According to Benavidez, the event is open to the public and last year 300 people showed up to the event.
At just $3 per person, $1000 were raised at the festival and the proceeds were given back to the bands that performed.
While Ownlife won’t collaborate in person until the summer, they don’t let the distance stump their creative thinking.
Each member keeps note of what they wish to experiment with, and in the summer they will create new music.
“I write down little ideas every other day … I put it in a virtual notebook filled up with ideas that I’ll flip through when we meet up and see which sparks inspiration,” Benavidez said.
The process seems easy going, but it can put members to the test.
With input from each member increasing, so does the clash of ideas.
“When we have that many conflicting interests our ideas are going to rub together … it’s hard to have so many people agree on something,” Haugen said.
All members agreed the clashes of collaboration are worthwhile in the end.
“Anything I write is made richer with their influence. Nothing that I write by myself compares in complexity and usually it’s a lot cooler,” says Di Donato.
Ownlife’s members have played together since high school, and it is easy to take one another for granted.
“My favorite part is the ability to play with real musicians,” Benavidez said. “I forget how much of an honor it is to play with them and I forget how skilled my bandmates are.”
With a group filled with motivated band members, Ownlife is nowhere near giving up on new music.
Stay on the lookout for new releases in the summer.
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