COVID-19, electronic dance music: 3420 shares their perspective

Maddy Erskine

When most people think of electronic dance music, they don’t think of a live band fronting it. Fort Collins band 3420 is pushing the genre of electronic music by adding live instruments, creating a psychedelic rock feel.

Before the pandemic, 3420 was gaining lots of momentum in the music scene, even headlining one of the last shows at Hodi’s Half Note. Band members Marty Muzik (drums), Josh Sommerfeld (guitar) and Stryker Steele (bass) are all inspired by a variety of genres but draw most of their inspiration from the music festival community and culture. 

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“When you go to a festival and you see all these people just down for whatever it is, it’s so encouraging to do something like put a bunch of genres together,” Muzik said.

Putting a bunch of genres together is exactly what 3420 did in their new album “Bridging the Gap.” “Bridging the Gap” is an extended play record of seven songs that showcases the band’s diverse range and unique sound.  

We wanted to give people something to listen to, since there’s not a lot of that happening right now.” -Marty Muzik, drummer for 3420

“Screw genres,” Sommerfeld said. “I just like listening to how different people can manipulate the 12 notes in western music, the hundreds of notes in eastern music and then just adding on the electronic aspect of sound design. … There (are) no limits to it.” 

Their song “Percy” has been in the works since 2018.

“(The songs) just kinda naturally keep evolving,” Muzik said. “And we all bring our own ideas to the table.”

Since the band is newer to Ableton, a music production program, and the electronic aspect of their music, most of their songs begin on their instruments.

“I’m a little bit more used to jamming out on my guitar and coming up with something than sitting in front of the grid,” Sommerfeld said. 

Sommerfeld also talked about how instrumental electronic music like “Bridging the Gap” is best experienced live.

“The live aspect is completely different than just listening to it out of your computer speaker or your phone speaker,” Sommerfeld said. Due to the pandemic, the live aspect of music is being hit hard, which makes these times extremely tough on artists who are known for live performances. 

“A lot of the people (who) have interacted with our music have reached out to us, and I just love building relationships with people (who) have that same sort of vision artistically or are like, ‘That’s dope you guys are putting all these different elements together,’ and they can relate to that,” Muzik said.

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In the future, 3420 wants to start incorporating lyrics into their music, but the idea is relatively new. While all members have been playing their instruments for many years, the current trio of 3420 has only been playing together for about a year. 

“Everyone that we’ve talked to, the same thing has been said,” Sommerfeld said. “We’re winging it.”

The release of “Bridging the Gap” was originally planned for the spring. But as we all know, 2020 has been a wild ride for everyone.

“We all had to take the time to get our priorities together to take care of ourselves so we can put more into this project,” Muzik said.

“(The album) still kinda put itself together in a really natural way,” Muzik said, adding that they completed some last minute additions that wouldn’t have been done in the spring.

With a lot of music on hold right now because of the pandemic, 3420 felt somewhat obligated to put out something for their fans and the community. Muzik said they just wanted to give people something to listen to.

We are just doing our best to keep everyone engaged and let people know we are still here because we do need people’s help.”-Marty Muzik, drummer for 3420

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the music scene, including the unfortunate closure of Hodi’s Half Note. 3420 played one of the last-ever shows at that venue back in February.

“The day I moved out here, I went to a show there,” Muzik said. “And I was like, ‘Wow, this is a scene. This is a cool place for people to connect. Everybody’s just having a good time.'”

Smaller venues in town, like Hodi’s, provide a space for newer musicians to start getting exposure and share their music with the community. Closures of these places are scary for local musicians, but bands like 3420 still have high hopes for the music community.

“Everybody’s just trying to do everything they can to maintain something,” Muzik said. “We are just doing our best to keep everyone engaged and let people know we are still here because we do need people’s help. We got our favorite venue closing. It’s a shame that it’s come to that, but that’s just one out of the thousands across the entire country that have shut down.” 

Recently, stages turned their lights red in support of the Save Our Stages Act. Many artists and people in the music industry are depending on this act so they can resume live music where it left off after COVID-19. 3420 hopes this act passes and they don’t see anymore of their favorite venues closing down.

The band has done two live shows outdoors over the summer, saying that’s a format they believe live shows will move toward.

With this significant decrease in gigging opportunities, musicians are left with more spare time.

“(The band is) making the best out of it, trying to be more creative and make more music and get more content out for people to enjoy,” Muzik said. “Because that’s what we love to do.”

Maddy Erskine can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @maddyerskine_.