We are back with our bi-weekly column, “Don’t Sleep on Good Music.” The hope of this column is to shine light on music we enjoy and respect. Today we want to talk about a fucking talented artist and producer: Owen Bones.
Since this is the second edition of the column (peep the first about Chance The Rapper and the Social Experiment here), we can now say as usual. So as usual, it’s highly recommended to check out Owen Bones’ SoundCloud (which we have taken the liberty of posting below) and listen along as you read this piece. His latest release, The Headspin EP, is FIRE. Such a quality production — have fun with it.
Owen Bones. Play some bangers!!!
Owen Bones is a young producer from Chicago making some unique electronic music, for lack of a better term. He’s probably the type of dude that gets frustrated when you try to put his music into a genre. We roll our eyes. But really, his sound is very hard to categorize. What genre is he? He’s one of those musicians that transcends the conversation of genre. It’s electronic… it’s hip-hop… it’s trap… it’s… I’m not sure what he falls under exactly. Oh yeah, I know what type of music he’s making: good music.
He’s big on sampling, layering tracks on top of tracks, while more obscure sounds are dropped throughout the background (Think Fly-Lo). He’s also big on the drums; lots of drum driven beats. Owen spent his early years watching his father make jams on the drums. It was somewhat his introduction into the music world, picking it up himself and playing the drums from a very early age.
He’s got spacey sounds as well, never too slow, but he can also get disco-ey or infuse house samples when he wants to. In some tracks we get heavy bass melodies and heavy trap sounds. He’s a well-versed dude who covers a wide musical range — check out the classic Caribbean steelpan beat that comprises the main sound in “Cool Guy” for an example.
There’s a sense of careful architecture to his music AND his moves. He’s either built up a lot of wisdom on his own, or he has some savvy mentors. He maintains a low profile and keeps his social media presence to a minimum. Same with his musical output. He hasn’t been flooding us with mixes or EPs. But it’s weird, because this dude is all music all the time. His few posts online say he’s working on a lot of projects and is constantly in the studio. If he wanted to he could sign with a label, put out some more constant music, and tour. He could be bringing in good cash flow. Mystery is, he hasn’t and he isn’t.
Conclusion? An artist carefully working on his craft. He knows he’s got time. Patience is a virtue.
Chicago got a rare look at what Owen Bones has in store for the people on February 20th. He was included in the lineup for FLATSstudio‘s first exhibit of 2015, Underground Unseen, as well as the launch of VAM magazine. He debuted his live audio/visual show, and this new twist in his craft is going to be delicious. If he is able to pull off a dope visual concept to ride in clever unison with his music, the fun and connection with the audience will exponentially grow. The VAM team will be releasing some dope videos of the show soon, so keep an eye out for them!
(Sidenote: If anyone out there got a chance to see the show, let us know what you think. Some **** double parked me (What’s a four letter word for a meanie…) in an ice-mountain surrounded parking lot (Insert Chicago weather hatin’ here) in Bridgeport and I spent Friday evening contemplating whether keying cars or breaking down ice-mountains was the way to go. Karma you’ve done me well in the past, but this one hurt. I missed his entire set, but I’m sure there will be more to come.)
Anyways, Bones is meticulous, detail-oriented and it’s obvious that he takes his art seriously. The attention to detail is evident throughout his tracks too. Man this kid is talented. His beats are uptempo, complex, and cover a broad range of sounds. He ties it all together so well, producing a final product that is full of intricate sounds but still really fucking CATCHY. Catchy music tends to suck and be one-dimensional. But not Owen Bones.
His music is also fun to get down to. Blast some of his jams at a good party and shit’s going to turn up. The most extroverted girl there will quickly start a dance circle. The Fly-Lo diehard in the room is going to stop their convo, look up, tighten their brow, and ask “What the fuck is this? Who is this?? This song is on-pointtttt!” Take this remix of T.I. and Young Thug’s “About The Money,” for instance.
I love this track. He took T.I. and Young Thug and made them dance. He turned a southern rap banger into a straight dance jam. Man, he’s got a good ear and knows how to mix. I fucking love that production.
Bones’ music has a lot of depth too. He composes multi-faceted sounds on top of each other that add a lot of emotion to his songs; check out “Home Team” for example. It’s like his beats are communicating more than just a fun time. It’s really comparable to what John Frusciante does with his guitar. Yeah it sounds nice, but you can feel that there’s more to it. John’s guitar is talking to you, it’s got voice and depth. That emotional component is powerful in music. As listeners, whether we are fully aware of it or not, connecting with music emotionally is kind of magical. Owen Bones is not lacking.
When there’s genuine passion behind a person’s craft you’re going to receive a higher quality product. Calidad, baby. Calidad. This kid is passionate about his music. You can tell simply through the composition, it’s fucking hard to make complex tracks sounds so good on top of each other. That takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of practice. His careful release schedule, as mentioned earlier, is one sign of this passion, but more importantly, it really comes out in the music. He’s the type of musician that is carefully expressing himself and his ideas in his art. He’s speaking to the listener and exchanging beliefs.
Yeah, music is made to be a fun time, music can be made to enjoy leisurely and it doesn’t have to be about some ‘hidden’ message that the audience interprets personally. But when artists express ideas to their audience within their music it’s that much more enjoyable and the emotional connection can be magical (see: Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony and the connection to the four seasons).
Both types of music are great, of course. I mean check it, my two favorite Beatles songs are “Something” and “A Day in the Life.” On the one hand we have a straightforward love song on a guitar, and on the other is a fucking complex musical production with insane, intense lyrics that disseminate an underlying message to listeners. Both good songs, but “A Day in the Life” has definitely taken up more of my time and energy.
In November of last year Owen Bones put out a video for “Coolguy,” a badass track off of The Headspin EP. He linked up with a very talented director named Christopher Gatewood (@), and the result is fucking great. It’s a dope video, you can tell there’s good money and production behind it, but the overall theme is deep. Make of it what you want — we’ll all interpret it differently — but I love what I see. It’s like he’s trying to tell us that there’s power in his beats. Put the bullshit aside because we got music, and with music we can all come together to connect physically and emotionally. That’s the message I’m getting. Peep the video — whatcha think?
Owen Bones is talented in that way. He’s making bangers. But he’s also making carefully crafted, intricate art that disturbs the comfortable and comforts the disturbed. Peep the intro to his Spring Break You Mix. It’s a blatant message he’s sending listeners, letting people know that he puts time, energy, and thought into his music. It’s not just bangers — I mean, we love bangers — but it’s about connecting emotionally with the audience throughout his art too.
If you enjoy his music like ya boy does, and you want to shine some light on an up-and-comer, then don’t be shy:
Recognize good music, support what you believe to be good music, and don’t sleep on good music. Owen Bones is young, he’s growing, he’s curating, but we’ll see what he has for us in the very near future. Tell us what you think.