The night of Friday, Feb. 8 was a particularly wet one, but that did not keep local musicians in their beds. Instead, they bundled up in the cozy interior of vintage clothing store A Satellite of Love and played varying blends of electronic music.
Along with selling clothes, A Satellite of Love also boasts a collection of classic books, records and antiques, attracting the artistically inclined from all around San Luis Obispo. The store also opens its doors to local musicians who want to perform in the intimate, birchwood-scented space.
“A lot of the acts are kinda just people [who] have come here and saw a show, and they’re like, ‘Oh hey, I have a band,’” A Satellite of Love owner Malik Thorne said. “There aren’t many venues for people to play at. If I can, [I] kinda just help out and have a space here that people can … come [to] and do a little show.”
Bryant Bayhan, a local musician who goes by the stage name .paperman, called Thorne one day and asked if he and his friends could do a show, and the lineup was settled.
Five dollars gave entry to see artists like Oso Blanco, SK Fountain, the zlorngler, Fort Ord and .paperman. Concert attendees who scoped the counter could also purchase Pale Sunbathers, an ambient album made by .paperman while he was in Germany over the summer. The album is only available as a physical copy.
The album has a special place in .paperman’s heart; he had been creating it while watching over children with special needs for eight hours a day at a privately-owned health clinic in the Black Forest.
It was a particularly challenging job for Bayhan, who had limited experience with German. Still, he said will never forget the time he got to play music with one of the children and his brother in the top room of the clinic’s school. They contributed melodies to .paperman’s album, which can be heard on the closing track, “Brothers Boxing.”
“I try and bring people through all the songs and show them all the electronics and kinda show them everything as it’s happening,” Bayhan said. “I want them to feel … the circuits … I want them to be a part of the process with me.”
According to Bayhan, a lot of technique and hard work goes into putting on an electronic show and connecting with the audience. For artists like Neil Koons, a liberal arts and engineering studies senior who goes by the name zlorngler, disorientation can be a good thing.
Koons’ instrument of choice is the saxophone, and he breathes into a woodwind MIDI controller to get different sounds for his music. Coupled with a pixelated background displayed by a projectionist in the back of the store, audience members often struggle to describe what they just heard.
“More often it’s just sort of a ‘Damn, that was weird,’ or, ‘That was cool, yeah,’” Koons said. “Normally their compliments are that they got tripped by it and that’s sort of the intent … different mind spin, you know, something you hopefully haven’t heard before.”
Koons said that while he has many different approaches to making his music, it all begins with just making a sound and building up from there.
If local artists want to follow in the footsteps of Koons and Bayhan and share their music with the rest of the world, Thorne at A Satellite of Love is just a phone call away.