MoPOP’s premier 21 and under battle of the bands supports the local music scene by giving artists of all backgrounds the opportunity to showcase original music on a large platform, connect with peers and industry professionals, and take the next step in their music careers.
Sound Off! 2018 Band Bios
Beyond the Woods
Beyond the Woods uses dynamic contrasts to make every track an unexpected journey through a forest of pure musical rapture. What starts as a smooth jam of delicate riffs over laid back drums may morph into the driving, distorted sounds of classic metal rhythm guitar and matching percussion. But don’t let the word “classic” confuse you. Beyond the Woods brings something new to prog metal with the combination of clean tapping sections, sweet melodies, groovy riffs, and mosh-worthy breakdowns.
A woman needs a room of her own if she is to realize her creative potential. Claudine Magbag joins a long line of female voices reimagining the intimate as universal. With reverberant beats and layered, sampled vocals, Magbag creates her own company while giving shape to the vivid interiority of teenage life. The yearning to start while still bearing the uncertain weight of the present. Her songs play like the soundtrack to your most cinematic fantasies; the feeling of riding your bike up a hilltop under the perfect purple-pink sunset without going anywhere at all.
Oregon City, OR
(Alternative, Hard Rock)
Dreadlight thrives in the space between dreams and reality, demanding action in the face of harsh truths while simultaneously exploring worlds beyond our own. Their lyrics emphasize the importance of balancing the two sides, to both make sense of things and to carve out a way to move forward. Their strength lies in the chemistry between the two members, Kandra Tolvstad and Toria Beck who often sing together: their voices melding into one that keeps nimbleover heavy guitars and stomping percussion.
An alumnus of The Residency—MoPOP’s hip-hop focused program—EyezOthelo combines the gritty, old-school sound of hip-hop pioneers with the uplifting, soulful styles of modern music. His strong hooks, smooth rhymes, and restrained production combine to make tracks that balance easy aural consumption with challenging social commentary. With songs rooted in Seattle, EyezOthelo’s music reflects his experiences dealing with social and racial injustice in a city he sees as gentrifying.
Performed with the confidence of a musician twice his age, Jawzilla’s driving rhymes fly over expertly produced beats, delicate chimes, and smooth guitar. What sets Jaw apart are his lyric-heavy tracks that reveal a mindful person filled with passion and poetry. From profound observations about the world around him to clever lines that hook the listeners ear (“I’m leaking ink just like I’m Stan Lee”), Jawzilla’s music is the real deal.
Artists like Maiah Wynne remind us that we have a choice in how we engage with the world. A multi-instrumentalist, Wynne is adept at embodying a mood or theme in one song and then swapping it for another in the next. What emerges is a shifting and engaging experience that is threaded through by Wynne’s lilting, evocative voice and earnest lyrics. Where others might balk at making statements, in favor of courting the passive listener, Wynne is intentional in the subjects she chooses to write about. She believes in art—music in particular—as a means for change and has dedicated projects to causes including the preservation of ocean life.
It’s clear from the first listen that Micaiah Sawyer’s lifelong devotion is to music. Her folk-meets-blues style reveals a musical instinct that can’t be taught, but only uncovered. This distinct style pairs perfectly with lyrics that cut to the heart of aa emotional restlessness recognizable to all. Exuberant, powerful vocals sail over intricate finger picked acoustic guitar to create a sonic experience much larger than its traditional singer-songwriter setup. If you want to see the future of folk music, look no further than Micaiah Sawyer.
The word “misunderstood” is often defined as a type of confusion, but make no mistake. When Misundvrstood gets on the mic there is no chance of misinterpretation. Her raw lyrical talent, catchy hooks, and musical confidence set her apart from others in the hip-hop game. As an artist, she is often inspired by her emotions, but no matter the content, the pure joy Misundvrstood feels while performing shines through every track. Whether you get on the wave or not, you’re gonna get swept up.
Nestra is a singer, composer, and artist from North Seattle. While he considers himself an R&B artist, Nestra’s music draws on influences from traditional soul and blues singers, atmospheric indie and electronic music, and his East African heritage. As a first-generation immigrant, his lyrics reflect the raw emotion of growing up in a country and culture foreign to his family while navigating love, the loss of family to Africa, and the determination to succeed. Nestra channels these emotions and struggles in his music and voice. His music is organic, enigmatic, and always directly from the heart.
Sam Foster is an 18-year old singer-songwriter from Issaquah, WA. The overarching themes of his music are tied to his struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Soulful and blues-influenced, his songs are stories that illustrate a journey through life with anxiety and the way it can color one’s experience.
(Psych Rock, Surf Rock)
Step Dads have been playing garage/surf rock for over a year now. The band released the EPs Quarter-Life Crisis in March 2017 and Memento in August 2017. Tours in support of both have taken the band from their hometown Bellingham, WA across the U.S. where they’ve broken their sound in at many a hot and sweaty house show - preparing them well for turns at hotter and sweatier music festivals. With a sound that places them squarely in the pantheon of the best grimy, frenetic garage rock, Step Dads is a band you get in with on the ground floor and then watch them grow and cave-in the ceiling.
Strawberry Mountain began as the side project of Moon Human frontman (and brainfather of both projects) Carter Prince, and rings with his typical eccentric stylings. The project is a compelling milieu of tight, frenetic samples, electronics, solid guitar work, pedal magic and jungle-percussion that make the shows more lit than any psych show ought to be. The energy of the band is incredible, in their sugarblast electronic breakdowns, guitar absurdities and the amount of material the band has managed to create in such a short amount of time. At their worst, Strawberry Mountain is some of the best Seattle psych-rock of 2018, at its best, it’s some of the best psych of 2028.
- 2017: Jason McCue, Falon Sierra, Torpoise, The Good Weird, Cult Bride, Fluencie, Mission 253, Girl Teeth, Koga Shabazz, Animals in the Attic, Brotha’ Groove, Nomad
- 2016: Animal Camera; Copalis; COSMOS; Crews; Dre'zy and Too Smoove; Hello, I'm Sorry; Jazzy Tee; LEE; Paralexis; Paris Alexa; Party Shark; Travis Thompson
- 2015: One Above Below None, Naked Giants, Emma Lee Toyoda, Bleachbear, Champagne Babylon, Hemlock Lane, Charlie and the Rays, Honcho Poncho, Mystery Machines, Nightspace, Righteous Minds, Super Soaked
- 2014: Otieno Terry, Fauna Shade, Laser Fox, Thee Samedi, Calico the Band, Tommy Cassidy, Dames, Sophia Duccini, KSneak, Manatee Commune, Nabii Ko$mo, The Onlies
- 2013: Dave B, SHEBEAR, The Fame Riot, As it Starts, Vervex, Maiah Manser, I for Eye, Mister Mista, Rose, Shogun Barbie, SoccerMom, The Female Fiends
- 2012: Nude Pop, The Deep Wake, Feet, Special Explosion, Honora, Sam Lachow, Brothers From Another, Cassiopeia, Dungeon Science, The Unibroz, Ulrich, Your Rival
- 2011: Tomten, Northern Departure, Fit for Hounds, The Oh Wells, Kung Foo Grip, Land of Pines, Ambulance, Electricity and its Double, Kids and Animals, Kithkin, Micah B, The Oh Wells, Young Pacific
- 2010: Great Waves, Hooves and Beak, Candysound, SEACATS, Pan Pan, Sea Fever, A Cozy Kitchen, Apache Chief, Subtle Like a T-Rex, (Sui-Generis), The Cat From Hue, Us on Roofs
- 2009: Dyno Jamz, Sol, Dearboy, Makeup Monsters, The Mission Orange, Cyrus Fell Down, Brier Rose, Free City Collective, Kids Get Hit By Buses, Love Trucker, Schoolboy Gutbuster, Razpy & The Vigilantes
- 2008: New Faces, Nextdoor Neighbors, Man Down Medic, The Dead Are Judged, Southgate, KnowMads, Pat Goodwin, Scribes, Deer City, Kusikia, Shotty, The Batteries
- 2007: The Globes, Brite Futures, The Army Corps of Architects, Don't Tell Sophie, Halfbreed, The Oregon Donor, Dreamwright, Left At the Castle, Black Swade, The Freetown, Skull bot, Emi Meyer
- 2006: The Lonely Forest, Ben Rice and The Youth of Blues, Capital Basement, Ballroom Integrity and Grace, Dynamik, The Histrionics, Marquetta Miller, Dyme Def, Get Dressed
- 2005: Gruff Mummies, The Last Romance, Handshakes, The Sutures (formerly the Neons), Paper or Plastic, Aluzjun, Nameless Danger, The Paramours, Squid vs. Shark
- 2004: Mon Frere, The Lonely H, Idiot Pilot, Massive Habit, The Mechanical Dolls, Courtney Fortune, Abident
- 2003: The Split Licks, Schoolyard Heroes, The Hollow Points, Bench Grinder, Royale, The Revelators, Soybomb, Massive Habit, Red Fish Blue Fish
- 2002: Aaron Richner and the Blues Drivers, Asahi, Magnetic North, k through six, Vespin, Orizon, Steve Koozer, Sub-Motive
More from Sound Off! Artists
Sound Off! finalists win a slew of awesome prizes such as recording time, gear, radio airplay, festival performances, and more. Finals take place in MoPOP’s Sky Church and will be broadcast live on KEXP’s Audioasis.
All Semifinalists receive a professional photoshoot, an opportunity to connect with professional music industry mentors, a MoPOP membership, professional videos of their performance at Sound Off! 2018, a tour of KEXP, passes to Timber! Outdoor Music Festival, and more.
Participants must be age 21 or under and residents of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or British Columbia.
Three panels review all the applicants, choosing twelve bands to perform live at MoPOP. Panels include MoPOP’s Youth Advisory Board, MoPOP staff, and music industry professionals. Bands are scored based on song composition and arrangement, creativity and originality, technical ability and musicianship. All categories will be weighted equally. Following are examples of questions the judges may consider when rating bands:
COMPOSITION AND ARRANGEMENT
How strong is the songwriting/composition (musical arrangement, lyrics, harmonies, instrumentation, rhythm, use of technology etc)?
Does the music sound inspired? Do they have an artistic identity? Are they bringing something interesting to their genre?
TECHNICAL ABILITY AND MUSICIANSHIP
How impressive is the musicianship? Are they proficient with instruments, vocals, and in time and/or in tune?
Band selection criteria subject to change without notice.
Sound Off! 2018 Results
- Maiah Wynne | Wildcard
- Strawberry Mountain | Winner
- Micaiah Sawyer | Winner
- Sam Foster
- Step Dads | Wildcard
- Beyond the Woods | Wildcard
- Claudine Magbag
- Misundvrstood | Winner
- Strawberry Mountain
- Micaiah Sawyer | Winner
- Maiah Wynne | Runner up