Artist Spotlight: Calyxa

"Beyond The Wall", "Fern", Ableton Live, Adventure Time, Akai APC40, Brittney Chantele, Calyx, Calyxa, Clarion Collective, Focusrite, GRN+GLD, Hannah Skowronek, HBO Max, JBL 3 Series, Las Chicas Tristes, Long Beach Music Scene, Michael Williams, Novation Launchkey, Novation Launchpad, Ohio, Paul Gonsalez, Pioneer DJ, Que Sera, Queer Thursdays, Shure SM58, Toledo, Utena -

Artist Spotlight: Calyxa

The Basics:
- Who are you and Where are you from?

I’m Hannah Skowronek aka Calyxa! Originally from Toledo, Ohio, I now call Long Beach my home.


- When did you start making music under Calyxa, and how did you come up with the name?

I started making music for Calyxa late 2015. My favorite anime character’s name is Utena, which means Calyx. The calyx is the part of the flower that holds the petals. I love Utena and love flowers, so I was going to be Calyx. An artist was already using the name Calyx, so I threw an “a” on the end and here we are.

- How did you get involved in the Long Beach music scene?

After moving to Long Beach I just started checking out shows and local artists to get acquainted with the scene. After some time asking around I eventually got booked at Que Sera for my first Long Beach show!

The Process:

- What is the writing process like? How do you flush out your ideas?

It tends to go like this: I start with a theme or feeling that has been sticking with me. I brainstorm lyric and music ideas by writing in the notes app and recording voice memos. Once I feel I have a solid jumping-off point, I bring it into Ableton.

Calyxa Music Long Beach Music Scene Artist Spotlight Stacks FX


- Do you find it somewhat difficult to take studio songs to the live setting? Or is it a fairly organic transition? How has that changed over the years?


I don’t find it difficult. I think some years of doing it has helped that. Over the years I have tried out different ways to transition my studio songs for a live setting. I’ve sometimes made it where there is more focus on the MIDI controllers and I’ve also tried performing sets with as little interaction with controllers as possible. Right now, I feel there is a good mix. Some songs feel better just focusing on the vocal effects and performance while others demand greater use of the controllers. At the end of the day, I do what feels right for me in a performance role. I don’t always feel very in-tune with my body, but I’ve found controllers and keyboards help alleviate that. Beyond what they can do for the music itself, controllers provide a structured, yet expressive way for me to interact with my music physically in a live setting.

- Do you self record / self produce? Have you collaborated with any songwriters, engineers or producers that you’d like to mention? If so, what was that experience like?

I do self record and self produce! I have not done any collaboration as Calyxa that has led to a finished product. It’s something I haven’t really felt comfortable with, but recently have been more interested in trying. The most I’ve done is some production and writing with Brittney Chantele (Chicago) a few years ago. They sent me a hook and some verses to a beat and I had a lot of fun producing a backing track and adding to the lyrics and structure. I even brought it out for performances for a little bit!

 

Photo By: baeblade_future


The Sound:

- Most dreaded question every band has to answer, how would you describe your sound?

Oh this is always a challenge. I might say along the lines of pop or hyper pop. My music can be a catchy, uncanny, and intense.


- What do you want to communicate through your music?

My music is how I express myself. Through communicating my thoughts, my feelings, my passions, I hope to also communicate truths that resonate with others and help them feel recognized. Much of my work is influenced by my experience with mental health, my experience as a queer person, and my love of animation. When a listener identifies with a song or idea, that connection and understanding feels so validating. I hope it is a mutual feeling!

- What song are you MOST proud of? Why?

“Fern,” which I wrote for the Adventure Time Remix Challenge put on by HBOMax and Pioneer DJ. I was already considering writing a song about the character Fern. I had been feeling depressed about a lot of things that seemed out of my control, including music, and identified with Fern’s frustrations and feelings of futility. When the contest was announced it was a huge motivator to get the ball rolling with music again and really explore those feelings. Completing the song itself was cathartic and fulfilling. To then win the competition and receive such an enthusiastic reception from the Adventure Time community and Long Beach scene— it blew my mind and filled me with feelings of gratitude and validation. Definitely one of the brightest moments of my life.

 

 


- What piece of equipment is central to your sound?
While not a physical piece of equipment, Ableton is the workstation I have always used for Calyxa. It is an essential part of every song and every performance.

 


- Is there anything you’ve had your eyes / ears on recently that you’d like to incorporate into your sound?
Lately I have been a bit thirsty for some software synths and plug-ins that cost money. I mostly build my songs using the tools provided within Ableton. I do my best to emulate what I can, but it would be fun to explore a fancy new toy or two.

The Gear:

Gear List: Be as specific as you’d like! include photos of your studio /  live setup please!

For my live setup I use my MacBook with Ableton, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, Shure SM58 mic, Akai APC40, and a Novation Launchpad and Launchkey. My APC40 has been with me since I started performing. I love it’s flexibility with MIDI mapping, how I can change it to control whatever I want it to for live sets.
My studio setup is pretty similar except I don’t use the APC40 and I have a pair of JBL studio monitors.

Calyxa Live Setup Input Sheet Long Beach Music Scene Stacks FX

Above: Illustration of Calyxa's LIve Setup


Big Picture:

- Any new releases coming up or that just came out that you're excited to share?

My latest single “Beyond the Wall” came out in January! It explores the horror of homophobia/queerphobia, including internalized, and how that plays out socially in terms of exclusion, isolation, stigmatization, and discrimination.

 


- Can you share any long term goals for Calyxa?

Oh gosh. I would love to get to travel and perform. To be able to support myself more financially through my music would really be a dream come true.
- what do you feel is most unique or special about the long beach music scene?
I’m inspired by the hard work and authenticity of the artists! Everyone’s style feels so personal. There’s such a sense of community, too. Seeing other members of the scene find joy in supporting and experiencing each others’ art makes me happy to be a part of the Long Beach scene.

- Do you want to shout out to anyone special In the community?
Yes! Las Chicas Tristes, Paul Gonzalez, GRN+GLD, Michael Williams, thank you for what you bring to the LB scene and for helping me be a part of it! To Queer Thursdays LBC and Clarion Collective for celebrating queer and female artists! Shout out to Brian with excellent sound and lights! And to my roommates, Modus!

Current favorites:
- album
Crash by Charli XCX
- local band(s)
So many! Right now I’d say Furcast, Smooth Jas, Saint Shivers, Nifegun
- local restaurant
39 Degrees
- local bar
Vine, the Grasshopper, Que Sera, and any place with a pool table
- spot to play
All of them!


Calyxa Bandcamp

Calyxa IG

 

 

 

* Artist Spotlight is a weekly blog that features local Long Beach Musicians. Want to nominate yourself or someone you know for a feature? leave a comment below *


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