The Road to Reform is underway and for this installment Los-Angeles based artist Ønyx shares her love affair with music. When words have failed to express what needs to be said, music has been her solace. Her artist project explores the unique relationship between sound and visuals and how these two senses can heighten your appreciation for music. Since starting as a video editor at Insomniac Events, Ønyx has been determined to learn as much as she can in creating a rich music-going experience. She is the real deal and is ready to take the decks at this year’s REFORM, a day into night house and techno music event.
Thanks for sitting down with us today! How are you doing and what have you been up to lately?
Thank you guys for having me! The last two years have had some major life-changing transitions in my personal life, inner world, and outer world as we’ve collectively experienced. It’s shown me that the one thing constant in this life is change. An ever-evolving change. Sometimes that change hits when we least expect it. It’s important to sit with and process that grief for what no longer is, at the pace and in the ways that feel true to you. So throughout all this, shifting gears and prioritizing the focus on my mental and emotional health has been huge. Really been taking the time to reflect and sit with the way I feel since my baby brother and best friend Thomas died in 2019. Just six months before lockdown. Facing the trauma of losing him with a good support system — has truly saved my life. I realize that immense grief will be a lifelong journey.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What first got you into music, how long have you been DJing and making music (and making films)–what came first?
Creative expression was a big part of my upbringing. First came the music. At around nine years old, I started playing the guitar. [It] led to writing my own songs too. Putting lyrics and chords together singing about heartbreak and love.
Flash forward to the video. At a young age, I was lucky to be deeply in touch with my passion and dreams. Early on I already knew what I wanted to do with my life — work in film. I’ve been creating films for as long as I can remember. From making troll videos with my brother at home, to filming skate videos when we’d hit the skatepark, to creating award-winning independent films in high school and freelancing professionally long before college. By the time I was in my sophomore year of college, I had secured a job as an assistant video editor at Insomniac Events. It’s been a grind for as long as I can remember haha!
You fall so in love with the music and feel so inspired by the scene, the community, and the artists — that before you know it, you start DJ-ing too and that was me. Over time, things got more serious. That’s when Ønyx came about.
Love at first sound, Ønyx was born out of a passion for music.
It was while I worked at Insomniac that my passion for film began to expand within that of the dance music industry. It’s then that I started getting deeper into dance music. I went from being a shuffling bass house kid to being drawn to the underground techno scene in LA. It was there that my passion for film expanded into creating event “after movies”: telling stories of nightlife. It was at this point in my life that my love for electronic dance music began to evolve in ways I hadn’t imagined before. You fall so in love with the music and feel so inspired by the scene, the community, and the artists — that before you know it, you start DJ-ing too and that was me. Over time, things got more serious. That’s when Ønyx came about.
Are there any artists who’ve really inspired your work as an artist?
Inspiration is everything. Throughout my journey, there have definitely been pivotal artists I’ve looked up to as I’ve developed my sound and creative identity. Two of my biggest inspirations to date are Rosa Anschütz and I Hate Models — I love the edge in their unique sounds, and the ways in which they sound design their music.
Rosa’s production is very much unafraid: dark and truthful. With death becoming ever so present in my life, I’ve found myself really inspired by and validated in listening to her music. It very much carries this wisdom in the shadows that resonate with me deeply. The layers of me that have unfolded in the wake of loss, feel heard in her music.
And I Hate Models, you can’t go wrong with him. I love the sound design and auditory aesthetic in the way he creates his tracks. From the punchy distorted kicks, to the brilliant heavy breakdowns. Listening to his music is both an emotional journey and a no f*cks adrenaline rush all at once. He totally brings me back to my screamo and metal days.
Some experiences in life just don’t have a traditional spoken language accessible to them. I find so much beauty in expressing what cannot be spoken through what can be seen, heard, and felt.
Where words end, music begins. Ønyx combines multiple senses for her audio visual project.
You describe the Ønyx project as a “dual project, combining the mediums of audio and visual experience into one identity.” How do your audio and visual elements feed off, or inspire, one another with your work?
When I started my Ønyx project, I knew that I wanted it to be a merging of my two worlds: video and sound. Both spaces fascinate me, and they can make each other more striking in combination. It’s a powerful duality. There is only so much we can say with words. Some experiences in life just don’t have a traditional spoken language accessible to them. I find so much beauty in expressing what cannot be spoken through what can be seen, heard, and felt.
Both the visual and audio aspects of this project influence each other greatly in my day-day. For me, sound causes vivid visuals and creative visions. I’ll hear a sound and an editing sequence will flash through my mind. I’ll [listen to] a song, and a video concept will play out in my head. A similar parallel runs in reverse. I’ll see an image or a video clip and suddenly a specific soundscape will come to mind.
My background in film greatly affects the way I play music. I very much seek to curate an arc: similar to the ebb and flow of a story.
How has your cultural background influenced your love for the dance music scene in Los Angeles?
I was born in Paris, France. My parents had moved to France from Iran to escape a political revolution. Pretty soon into my childhood, my family moved to America. So most of my brother and my upbringing took place here in Orange, California. It was a unique experience, growing up in the middle of two different cultures: that of the Westernized American world and the Iranian world.
It was through my career in film that I moved to Los Angeles. Over the years, I have to say my favorite part of the dance music scene here is the fact that we have the opportunity to see such an eclectic, diverse group of artists from around the world. Our underground scene here is thriving, and the range of artists we get to see live out here is amazing! It’s so inspiring and refreshing.
Do you have anything special in store for us for your performance at REFORM?
Absolutely. I am so looking forward to REFORM! Since I’ll be playing b2b with Insical during the day, this time with my performance we’re preparing a set that feels more experimental and leftfield. We’re looking to incorporate slower BPMs, and more intriguing, even psychedelic sounds. We’re also envisioning how our sound can contribute to the tonal direction of the night overall. I’m beyond pumped and can’t wait to see what everyone will bring! It’s a stacked lineup of legends. Beyond humbled to be a part of this.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you LA friends and family for being the most supportive and loving always. There are so many amazing people out here I’ve been so thankful to meet through our underground scene.
To 6AM and WORK: thank you for being the powerhouse of Los Angeles techno. Working so passionately to give us a space to connect, learn, rejoice, reflect, and perform. Thank you for not only encouraging us in the musical sense, but for also shedding light on the importance of taking care of and getting in touch with our humanness as a whole: sparking conversations on awareness of mental health, social justice issues, and more.
Love you all. Beyond thankful to be a part of this community. Stoked to continue to grow, with you all.