Spotlight on Rising Stars: Aberdeen is Dead, Oceanic, and Kevin Ehrenstrom

By: JoAnn Snavely

Week 4: Aberdeen is Dead, Oceanic, and Kevin Ehrenstrom

On November 4th, 2022, Grammy nominations were announced. Among the many household names, quite a few were brand new to the nominee list. Some of which were overnight sensations like Wet Leg, Omar Apollo, and Måneskin. These musicians have risen to the forefront of the industry astronomically, becoming the faces of the next generation of music and the way it’s listened to.

Today, I will be introducing readers to three new musicians who are gunning for their Grammy nominations in the near future as I introduce you to Aberdeen Is Dead, Oceanic, and Kevin Ehrenstrom.

Aberdeen is Dead

Aberdeen is Dead (@aberdeenisdead) is a 2-piece, independent band composed of Jake Linder and Matt Bolling from Dallas, Texas. The band specializes in music with “punk, grunge, emo, psychedelic, and pop influences.” The band released its debut album titled Lamb in July of 2020. This album opens with “Snuff.” The song has an inviting, electric opening and an exuberant post-modern emo sound. It also sports one of my favorite guitar solos to date. 

I had never listened to Aberdeen is Dead until a few months ago after I received a recommendation from a friend, and I must say I was not disappointed. The band’s musical journey began in high school; Matt Bolling explained, “We started hanging out in my freshman year of high school and Jake’s sophomore year. We bonded over a similar love for emo & pop-punk bands such as Green Day and Twenty One Pilots. Through our trial and error of making awful music in our bedrooms together, we were faced with a small gig opportunity. Due to our lack of a singer, we forced Jake from drummer to singer and found a bassist and drummer to fill the gaps for our live shows. After some small, unpaid shows, we found a love for 90’s grunge such as Nirvana and Alice in Chains and eventually used our previous self-producing knowledge to record and release our first album ‘Lamb.’ Ever since, we found ourselves continuing down the path of home-recording our music and self-promoting it and playing shows with our original music.” 

When it came to titling their band, it seemed to have taken a different route. Jake explained the name’s roots by prefacing that their “name is a metaphor for when you can’t find the good at the end of the tunnel without suffering first. A good example would be one of our early influences from the band Nirvana, and that they wouldn’t have existed without the city of Aberdeen. We added the words “is dead” after it in order to separate ourselves from other bands with our name and to signify that we aren’t tied down to a certain sound or idea.”

Since their humble beginnings, they have undoubtedly taken off musically, with their single “The Impulse Theory” having earned more than 3 million all-time listens. With a relatively extensive discography compiled of 38 songs, both members had opposing opinions on which of their songs meant the most to them:

Matt: Our song “Country Club Girl” is one of my favorite songs because it was way too much fun to make. The song is kind of a joke and a diss-track, but it takes me back to a more simpler time when we were having a lot of fun and joking around while making a song.

Jake: The songs that mean the most to me is “Carpe Diem” / “Carpe Noctem” because there’s a lot of relatable lines in them for everyone to apply their own meanings. Plus I got to say stuff that was on my mind at the time that I’ve been struggling with.”

They just released their third album, which is self-titled and 100% worth checking out, but at the time of the interview, the album was yet to be released. I was, however, able to ask them about their sophomore album Bliss, which came out this past April. This album was unlike anything they’ve ever done before. Matt explained the album and its experimentalism by saying, “Bliss was an experiment of an album musically and marketing-wise. We took a psychedelic approach to the songwriting and took a complete turn from our first album. We also experimented with how to reach more people with our music by separating the whole album into four different EPs and then combining it as a whole album at the very end. The concept was supposed to be a psychedelic journey.” It most certainly is quite the journey when listened to from beginning to end. It carries a bit of spookiness, and that same uniqueness in the guitar is what makes them stand out. Even with the lead single “Fumes,” it has an almost eerie opening and vocalism very comparable to Nirvana and its 90s counterparts. The only distinctive difference is one that is very interesting to witness with musicians; you can see their growth in both their sound and the quality of it. They may be a relatively new band, but with two years and three albums under their belt, they have set the course for the future of their musical careers. Looking into their future, they both explained their visions of what it would look like:

Matt: I see us going on tours bigger than we could have imagined and supporting ourselves while doing what we love to do. I want to be able to support my family and be fulfilled with my career and focus on the things in life that make me happy. 

Jake: I see us with a lot more people showing up to our concerts, writing way better music coming from a professional studio environment, and I see us working with people that no one would be able to predict us working with. I also predict that we’re going to do sh*t that’s way different than other bands, and it will help us make our mark on music.”

Aberdeen is preparing to begin their The December Blood Tour that begins this Wednesday, as they begin to tour the country and work their way up towards their dreams. The band seems to be anything and everything less than dead.

Oceanic

Switching gears a little bit, we have Oceanic (@oceanicofficial) They are a Charlotte, NC-based pop band–our first NC natives in the series–comprised of Nathan Wyatt, Jacob Johnson, and Sam Goodwin. The band boasts one primary goal: they “ want everyone to feel like they can be themselves, and also believe that everyone should meditate on the deeper, introspective questions in life”

The name ‘Oceanic’ seemed like one of depth, and when asked, Nathan explained, “I believe we were watching “Lost” (the TV Show) and they’re constantly talking about ‘Oceanic Flight 815’, and so the word was fresh in our minds. And our friend absolutely hated it, so we went for it!”

As best friends, their musical journey began early in their youth, “We all started playing music at an early age, but we met in college and started a band. Since then, this is all we’ve ever wanted to do! We’ve been at it ever since, and that was about six years ago now.” Their bubbly sound carries many influences that range from “Coldplay, The 1975, and COIN, to name a few.” 

However, they’re generally inspired by “bands who make a whole creative universe around their music… Music that is really good, and if you want to go deeper as a fan, there’s plenty of art and meaning behind each song.” 

With a discography currently sitting at ten songs, they believe that out of all their songs, the one that means the most to them is  “a song called Skydive that will be released in January,[this] is probably our favorite song right now. It has some depressing themes, and it signifies a time when we had to band together and support each other a ton. So we really love that song.” 

Although that song isn’t out yet, they just released their newest single titled, “Fooled By You,” which is an exciting pop single that really gets someone moving. It has a very similar sound to COIN (which makes sense, given the trio influences their music) and is a delightful blend of today’s traditional pop sound and indie roots. They’ve been touring, in the triangle even,) and have been having a blast sharing their sound. 

They’ve also recently announced their debut album which will be coming out in late January. From what they could disclose on the album, Nathan explained As they look forward to their future and the releases that will follow that they see themselves “definitely still doing music!” Hopefully, the opportunities have aligned where we can support ourselves fully with the band, that’s our aim for sure! We don’t wanna be doing anything else. Oceanic is a band on the up and up with their passion for music, and their future is as bright as ever!

Kevin Ehrenstrom

Kevin Ehrenstrom (@kevinehrenstrom) is a Chicago-based musician who exhibits himself through musical expression. In a third-person description of his musical persona, he delightfully exclaimed, “He is an ordinary guy who uses minimal equipment in his bedroom to craft songs ranging anywhere from indie pop to psychedelic. His goal in the creative process is to inspire like-minded people that they can also express themselves creatively.” In his minimalistic approach to music and its production, he finds it imperative to address the fact that “It is a common misconception that you need loads of expensive equipment and powerful connections to produce music. But the truth is, you just need a program, a mic, and a creative mind. Art is subjective, and therefore there is no ‘good art’.” 

For someone with such a fresh disposition on the industry, his musical journey began from a young age with an interesting story to pair: “I began making music in 2017 when I was a sophomore in high school. My closest friend, James, had made a diss track on me for fun when we were in 8th grade, and I thought it was hilarious. I asked him if he could show me how he did it, and we ended up making some songs together for the next few years of high school. At this point, the songs we were making were mostly for fun; they were low quality rap songs on beats that we downloaded from YouTube.” However, the true spark began right before his senior year of high school, “ I got the pleasure of seeing Tame Impala live at Lollapalooza Chicago. This was truly a life changing experience, and it made me realize that I wanted to produce alternative music.” That inspiration almost stayed dormant until a time came when many people picked up new hobbies, “When the Covid-19 pandemic arose that year, I decided to download a program called FL Studio and spent countless hours teaching myself how to produce my own music, getting better and better each day. Almost three years later, the program now feels like a second language, and I am polishing my sound as an artist better than ever. I have even had the opportunity of collaborating with larger artists like Max Leonard and Tulips Ballad that I would not have had if I had not learned to produce my own tracks.”

His music has an exciting indie pop sound reflective of the early 2020s and carries a sound similar to Dayglow, Boy Pablo, and Dominic Fike. These comparisons make sense, with his musical inspirations being Dominic Fike, Boy Pablo, and Still Woozy. Even with his humble roots, he creates high-quality music perfect for any indie fan (like myself). 

He released his debut single in April of 2020 titled “New Year Same Me,”; this single has an electric opening reminiscent of Wallows’ Remote EP released in that same COVID period. The single about the impending dread of aging and the fear of not changing at all that comes with the drop of the New Years’ ball. In the single, he exclaims 

“New year same me

I’ve been taking life for granted

Acting like it’s free

I’ve been wondering who I want to be

Thinking about the world

And how much I gotta see”

This feeling (especially when the United States was on lockdown) is almost universal (unless you’ve never once been sad) with the association of growing up. We’ve seen all of these movies about coming of age, and sometimes it can feel like we aren’t reaching those points. Under the sea of college applications and the workloads of courses, it can be hard not to feel complacent, and this song addresses it. Since that release, he has built up a discography of 11 songs. Out of all of those songs, Ehrenstrom feels that “the song that means the most to me is probably ‘Just Dive In.’ This song idea came to me right after my 19th birthday. I remember overthinking about how it was the last year of my teens and how I felt like my life was flying by so quickly. I felt very unprepared to be in my twenties, so I wanted to write a song about these feelings. This song definitely resonates with me the most, as the chorus is about my decision to put 100% effort into my music despite my fear of what other people might think. This song helped me realize that if I did not give music my all, I would regret not trying later in my life.” 

In early October, he released his single “Pls Don’t Take Me Back” with David Terner. The exuberant single was quite the experience to produce, “Working with David was an incredible experience. In my journey as an artist I have found many artists difficult to work with, but David was great. He connected with  me as a friend and supporter of my music initially, which made me much more inclined to work with him. When I heard him post the snippet of the song on his story, I immediately reached out and told him I wanted to be a part of it. He told me I could record the chorus, and the rest is history! David and I still send each other demos back and forth; in fact, I am currently producing a song that he has in the works. You can expect more from us in the future”

Speaking of Ehrenstrom’s future, he has many short-term and long-term goals. From a near-future standpoint, he “intends to drop a short EP (4-6 songs) likely in the summer of 2023. I have been working hard behind the scenes to perfect my sound before I release this project to ensure that it represents me, and my life, the way I would like.” Long-term, his goals for what his future looks like includes “see[ing] myself as the man behind the curtains on everyone’s favorite tracks. I hope that my brand as a solo artist does well in the future, but my main goal is to be the one who produces tracks for many talented artists in the underground. I had not started producing beats for other artists until very recently this year, but I find it very exciting to be a part of other creatives’ artistic journeys. I do not make music to chase fame, I am okay with having a small, loyal fanbase while producing beats for larger artists along the way…Success to me is convincing others to create their own art of any kind, and get past the mental wall that their art may not be good enough.” That mental wall that Ehrenstrom is speaking upon is one anyone who produces art (music, writing, painting, anything) can relate to. It can be challenging to look at past works and appreciate them and their growth, but it can be even more challenging to appreciate the art one creates. Nonetheless, Ehrenstrom’s art is one you DO NOT want to miss. 

Before I go onto the usual author’s note, I thought it would be an excellent time to give a personal anecdote on this series. Throughout this series, there has been an overarching theme depicting the teenage experience. Whether in retrospect of happier moments, tales about being in love or lack thereof, or even reflections on current struggles, it can be a powerful thing to hear. It is a very similar resemblance to many of the other musicians that have been featured in the ‘Spotlight on Rising Stars’ series, and it was an intentional commonality. I wanted to feature musicians who were making music for our generation, about our generation. I did this because I think music is one of the single-most unifying factors in humanity. Whether you like emo, hyperpop, indie, punk, pop, or most music that falls under the alternative umbrella, I wanted people to use this series in order to associate those ever-so-terrifying teenage feelings. Because those feelings are present, and if they go unacknowledged, progress is almost impossible. Music is powerful, and I want this series to introduce our readers to musicians that empower you.

Spotlight on Rising Stars Series: an Author’s Note

This is the fourth edition in the “Spotlight on Rising Stars”series. In the last article in the series, I introduced the herald to The Johns and Jordan Dean. Unfortunately, this is the last article in the series for a while; I will be briefly pausing in order to round out the year with some end-of-year articles (yes, they will be music related!). Nevertheless, don’t fret because I will be back and better than ever with a new edition of this series soon, and there is SO much more to come that I cannot wait to share with the Herald’s readers! Until the next release in the series, check out Aberdeen is Dead, Oceanic, and Kevin Ehrenstrom’s links and the link to my ‘Spotlight on Rising Stars’ playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify that is updated with each article release! You can also read the full interview below:

Aberdeen is Dead

Instagram

Spotify

Oceanic

Instagram

Spotify

Kevin Ehrenstrom

Instagram

Spotify

Spotlight on Rising Stars Playlist:

Spotify

Apple Music

Week 4 Interviews:

Aberdeen is Dead: Who I spoke to: Matt

Who is Aberdeen? For example, if you were talking to someone who had absolutely no idea who ‘Aberdeen is Dead’ was, what would you tell them?

We are a 90’s/2000’s style alternative rock band from Dallas, Texas with punk, grunge, emo, psychedelic and pop influences. (- Matt)

How did you start making music (what was that journey like)/ who were the influences that made you start making music?

We started hanging out in my freshman year of high school and jakes sophomore year. We bonded over a similar love for emo & pop-punk bands such as Green Day and Twenty One Pilots. Through our trial and errors of making awful music in our bedrooms together, we were faced with a small gig opportunity. Due to our lack of a singer, we forced Jake from drummer to singer and found a bassist and drummer to fill the gaps for our live shows. After some small unpaid shows we found a love for 90’s grunge such as Nirvana and Alice in Chains and eventually used our previous self-producing knowledge to record and release our first album “Lamb”. Ever since we found ourselves continuing down the path of home recording our music and self promoting it and playing shows with our original music ( – Matt)

What song of yours means the most to you/ why?

Matt: Our song Country Club Girl is one of my favorite songs because it was way too much fun to make. The song is kind of a joke and a diss-track but it takes me back to a more simpler time when we were having a lot of fun and joking around while making a song.

Jake: The songs that mean the most to me is Carpe Diem / Carpe Noctem because there’s a lot of relatable lines in them for everyone to apply their own meanings. Plus I got to say stuff that was on my mind at the time that I’ve been struggling with.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years (what is the future of Aberdeen, what do you want it to look like?)

I see us going on tours bigger than we could have imagined, and supporting ourselves while doing what we love to do. I want to be able to support my family and be fulfilled with my career and focus on the things in life that make me happy. (-matt)

I see us with a lot more people showing up to our concerts, writing way better music coming from a professional studio environment, and I see us working with people that no one would be able to predict us working with. I also predict that we’re going to do shit that’s way different than other bands and it will help us make our mark on music. (-jake)

You just released your sophomore album Bliss this past April, what does that project mean to you, and what does the future hold for you musically?

Bliss was an experiment of an album musically and marketing-wise. We took a psychedelic approach to the songwriting and took a complete turn from our first album. We also experimented with how to reach more people with our music by separating the whole album into 4 different EP’s and then combining it as a whole album at the very end. The concept was supposed to be a psychedelic journey

Where did the name ‘Aberdeen is Dead’ come from, what is its origin?

Our name is a metaphor for you can’t find the good at the end of the tunnel without suffering first. A good example would be one of our early influences from

the band Nirvana, and that they wouldn’t have existed without the city of Aberdeen. We added the words “is dead” after it in order to separate ourselves from other bands with our name and to signify that we aren’t tied down to a certain sound or idea. (-Jake)

Oceanic: Who I spoke to: Nathan

Who is Oceanic? For example; if you were talking to someone who had absolutely no idea who ‘Oceanic’ was— what would you tell them?

Oceanic is a pop group of nice boys who want everyone to feel like they can be themselves, and also believe that everyone should meditate on the deeper, introspective questions in life! Briefly, that’s who we are. Oh, also we’re best friends who love making music together. 

How did the band start making music (what were your journey’s like, whether individual or collective)/ who were the influences that inspired you to make music.

We all started playing music at an early age, but we met in college and started a band. Since then, this is all we’ve ever wanted to do! We’ve been at it ever since, and that was about six years ago now. We truly were and are inspired by bands who make a whole creative universe around their music. Coldplay, The 1975, and COIN, to name a few. Music that is really good, and if you want to go deeper as a fan, there’s plenty of art and meaning behind each song. Very inspiring. 

What song of yours means the most to your (again either collectively or individually)/why?

 We have a song called Skydive that will be released in January, that is probably our favorite song right now. It has some depressing themes, and it signifies a time where we had to band together and support each other a ton. So we really love that song. 

Where do you see yourself in five years (what is the future of Oceanic/where do you want to be in the future)?

We see ourselves definitely still doing music! Hopefully the opportunities have aligned where we can support ourselves fully with the band, that’s our aim for sure! We don’t wanna be doing anything else. 🙂

You’re currently on tour right now and have recently released your single ‘Fooled By You’, how has that been, and what’s to come?

5) Yes! We’re very proud of Fooled By You, and we’re so happy to have been able to play these shows on the road. We will be releasing our debut album, called “No, Human” on January 27, 2023. We’re so incredibly proud of it and we cannot wait for it to be out, it’s been a long, long time in the making. Then, we’ll be hitting the road again, going farther than we ever have before! Tons of shows coming next year, we seriously can’t wait. 

Where did the name ‘Oceanic’ come from? What is the inspiration behind the name?

6) I believe we were watching “Lost” (the TV Show) and they’re constantly talking about “Oceanic Flight 815” and so the word was fresh in our minds! And our friend absolutely hated it, so we went for it! 😉

Kevin Ehrenstrom:

Who is Kevin Ehrenstrom? for example; if you were talking to someone who had absolutely no idea who Kevin Ehrenstrom was— what would you tell them?

Kevin Ehrenstrom is a creative who chooses to express himself through musical composition. He is an ordinary guy who uses minimal equipment in his bedroom to craft songs ranging anywhere from indie pop to psychedelic.His goal in the creative process is to inspire like-minded people that they can also express themselves creatively. It is a common misconception that you need loads of expensive equipment and powerful connections to produce music. But the truth is, you just need a program, a mic, and a creative mind. Art is subjective, and therefore there is no ‘good art’. Success to me is convincing others to create their own art of any kind, and get past the mental wall that their art may not be good enough.

How did you start making music (what was that journey like)/ who were the influences that made you start making music?

I began making music in 2017 when I was a sophomore in high school. My closest friend, James, had made a diss track on me for fun when we were in 8th grade, and I thought it was hilarious. I asked him if he could show me how we did it, and we ended up making some songs together for the next few years of high school. At this point, the songs we were making were mostly for fun; they were low quality rap songs on beats that we downloaded from YouTube. Before my senior year of high school, I got the pleasure of seeing Tame Impala live at Lollapalooza Chicago. This was truly a life changing experience and it made me realize that I wanted to produce alternative music. Some other inspirations that I was into when I was first starting my journey were Dominic Fike, Boy Pablo, Still Woozy. When the Covid 19 pandemic arose that year, I decided to download a program called FL Studio and spend countless hours teaching myself how to produce my own music, getting better and better each day. Almost three years later, the program now feels like a second language, and I am polishing my sound as an artist better than ever. I have even had the opportunity of collaborating with larger artists like Max Leonard and Tulips Ballad that I would not have had if I had not learned to produce my own tracks.

What song of yours means the most to you/ why?

The song that means the most to me is probably Just Dive In. This song idea came to me right after my 19th birthday. I remember overthinking about how it was the last year of my teens and how I felt like my life was flying by so quickly. I felt very unprepared to be in my twenties, so I wanted to write a song about these feelings. This song definitely resonates with me the most, as the chorus is about my decision to put 100% effort into my music despite my fear of what other people might think. This song helped me realize that if I did not give music my all, I would regret not trying later in my life.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years (what is the future of Kevin Ehrensrom/what do you want to be in the future)?

In the next 5 years, I see myself as the man behind the curtains on everyone’s favorite tracks. I hope that my brand as a solo artist does well in the future, but my main goal is to be the one who produces tracks for many talented artists in the underground. I had not started producing beats for other artists until very recently this year, but I find it very exciting to be a part of other creatives’ artistic journeys. I do not make music to chase fame, I am okay with having a small, loyal fanbase while producing beats for larger artists along the way.

You released your single ‘Pls Don’t Take Me Back’ with David Terner this past month, how has that experience been, what’s to come?

Working with David was an incredible experience. In my journey as an artist I have found many artists difficult to work with, but David was great. He connected with  me as a friend and supporter of my music initially, which made me much more inclined to work with him. When I heard him post the snippet of the song on his story, I immediately reached out and told him I wanted to be a part of it. He told me I could record the chorus, and the rest is history! David and I still send each other demos back and forth, in fact, I am currently producing a song that he has in the works. You can expect more from us in the future. As for the future of my music, I intend to drop a short EP (4-6 songs) likely in the summer of 2023. I have been working hard behind the scenes to perfect my sound before I release this project to ensure that it represents me, and my life, the way I would like.

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