A young man with curly hair going by the stage name of MC Crumpdaddy stood nervously behind a table topped with drum machines, a slew of cables and his laptop. He announced this would be his first performance, then took a deep breath and began tapping at his keyboard, launching into an ambient landscape of electronic music.
Though not traditionally melodic, the layered celestial soundscapes commanded the attention of the students crammed into the Cowell Fireside Lounge on April 11.
MC Crumpdaddy, born Michael Crumpler, was one of seven UC Santa Cruz students and musicians who performed at an event dubbed BrainWASH last Friday. BrainWASH was the first event hosted by a new campus music collective called WASH, or We All Sound Human.
“It just started with the simple idea of creating a community of musicians to bring together talented musicians on campus,” said WASH member Sean Foster.
Inklings of WASH began to surface during summer 2013. Undergraduate Jesus Villegas, a musician himself, had the idea to organize a collective for other musicians on campus.
The plan was to create a space where musicians from all genres and levels of experience could come together for the sake of their craft. They would have the opportunity to soak up tips from more experienced students, record their music and share it with the UCSC community through compilation albums and performances.
“Fundamentally, it’s a community of musicians and artists who want to try to take that next step to being a professional musician,” Villegas said.
WASH intends to help musicians improve their skills, offering workshops for different levels of musical ability and areas of interest. The group meets every Saturday at noon in a reserved room on the ground floor of McHenry Library, where they do everything from planning upcoming events to sharing music they’ve been working on.
The collective’s diversity ranges from electronic artists to acoustic guitar folk musicians. The collective also features photographers, web designers and production engineers. This wide range of interests allows WASH to pool its resources, sharing equipment and expertise in order to get the group off the ground.
WASH’s methods follow the self-reliant DIY philosophy to a T. As Villegas explained, keeping the production within the collective allows for greater creative control in the artistic process, not to mention saving them from the financial headaches that can arise from dealing with third parties.
“Right now, WASH is what keeps my music endeavors going because I can’t do it by myself,” said WASH member Katie Sweeney.
Sweeney became involved with WASH after meeting Villegas in the Stevenson Coffee House. Fairly new to the guitar herself, Sweeney said her involvement with WASH has not only been a learning experience but also a way to connect with fellow musicians in the hopes of advancing her own personal projects.
In her case, WASH helped her with a musical pursuit very near and dear to her heart — recording songs her late mother left behind. With the help of a fellow musician she met via WASH, the songs will serve as a soundtrack to a documentary Sweeney and her father are working on about the life and legacy of her mother.
Whether it’s getting a solid grasp on production software or learning how to DJ for events, these workshops allow participants to learn from their peers in an interactive environment.
While they’ve organized a handful of such events in the past, the collective is hoping to do more over the coming school year. These workshops are angled toward a more hands-on approach to learning the craft.
“That was a key thing we wanted to incorporate from the beginning,” said WASH member Sean Foster. “We recognize that we’re all students and we’re all here to learn — that’s a huge part of what we want to get out of this.”
The group is currently toying with the idea of organizing a workshop featuring a DJ faceoff, where two new musicians are asked to go head-to-head mixing two songs using the techniques they’ve learned during their time in the collective.
“We want to make the workshops interesting and fascinating while also enhancing the musician’s talent,” Villegas said.
Over the next year, WASH hopes to become an official club under SOAR, organize more performances like the inaugural BrainWASH and continue to foster creativity and collaboration among UCSC musicians.
“I dont think there’s any organization that really helps connect all the musicians on campus,” Sweeney said. “They’re kind of scattered. There might be a lot of musicians who want to get serious and collaborate with other artists but don’t have a way to. This would be a forum for people to connect, collaborate and create music.”