Welcome to CT: See the Scene

Words by Matthew Spence:

We’ve all heard the phrase, it’s even in the Bible….don’t check though, trust me. We’ve seen it on T-shirts, posters, and stickers on Redbubble. “Support Local Artists”. We’ve seen the guy who shouts it at events when he grabs the mic. Now, when you break past the immediate instinct to say: “Shut the Fuck Up”, you have a moment to think and realize “Damn, he’s right…. but still shut the hell up”. Local artists/musicians get a rep worse than Polio and Michael Bay films. They get aside-eyed and dismissed faster than an ex-con applying for a babysitting job. Sure, these are all exaggerated jokes, however, there is a lingering misconception people may have, that I’ve seen: if it’s local then it’s not good nor deserves less serious attention. A stigma that shouldn’t even exist. Especially now, since we’re in an era where people can blow up off of a couple of songs from the comfort of their bedroom and become household names before they even perform their first show ever. Not even like a talent show or birthday party, it can all happen before they even passively showcase what they can do in front of their friends and family. People can get blinded by the new way of life. Everyone’s gotta somewhere, no one comes out the gate selling out Madison Square Garden on some Arctic Monkeys, Drake, Billie Eilish shit. Hell, Billy Joel basically pays the mortgage there, he plays so often. There’s always a catalyst, a source. Lay the floor ground. It starts with the community, the people yo! The PEOPLE. If we’re not supporting one another, what do we get? I don’t know, but, it’s probably not good.

With me being out and about over the past couple of years, I’ve been to a bunch of shows and have grown to appreciate the vast talent around this environment called Not New York…also known as Connecticut.


From Hip-Hop to Punk to R&B to Shoegaze to Dreampop to motherfuckers that probably make bebop. Genres building upon genres, Scenes, Music, and Talent. ACTION, EXPLOSIONS, WORDS SPELLED IN CAPS FOR EMPHASIS. It’s inspiring to be around energy that sparks growth rather than repression. To be a part of a generation and community where everyone wants to take things into their own hands and whatever outcome they want or hope for: they’re putting 100% soul into their craft and effort. Whether, an international Fame/Grammy Lifestyle or just respect from friends/peers through the city and state. Be able to play shows around the way or tour with Beyoncé. No matter what, it results in them being able to tell their future kids: “Hey, I was doing dope shit back in the day”. Whatever the route they’re going on, it comes from genuine love and fun. In fact, when you drive into the state, the sign should read: “Welcome to Connecticut: Where the music kicks ass and you’re less likely to get your ass kicked” So, I decided to ask a few noise-making, wave-causing, bubbling artists who over the past few years have been making names for themselves throughout CT. Questions about what? the CT scene, community, and stuff. Hindsight tells me, I should’ve asked stuff like Pop-Tart vs. Toaster Strudels. Oh well, Continue on!

Note: Artists will be listed in Alphabetical Order, not genre because convenience is tight!

Justin Esmer


Photo: Esmer Taken by: Mishel Noboa
It feels like the CT music scene is in a Renaissance of talented people throughout, what do you
think makes the scene special?

Q1. The people fs. I feel like I’ve made some of my closest friends through the music scene in CT. Everyone’s so appreciative and supportive of each other’s art and I feel like I could be honest with myself and others in this environment.

Some of your favorite artists from the scene/around the way?

Q2. So manyyy. Pondview, Nehway, Ammar, and Death Valley Sun Troopers to name a few!!

Being near NYC and Boston, which is influential to pop culture as a whole, there’s a sense of
overshadowing to some degree. Do you think CT will get recognized by the outsiders of the
state for its talent of now and the past?

Q3. I think CT as a whole can hold its own with the community its’ built to this day. NYC and Boston are dope because I notice a lot of my favorite artists go on tour there, but I think there’s something special about places like New Haven and UConn gaining traction. It could be the first time in a while that CT has a spotlight on them.

Fave venue to play in the area?

Q4. Space Ballroom >:)

If you could give the CT scene a name, what would you call it?

Q5. The Clam lol

Fav place to discover artists and bands around?

Q6. I like Gather East a lot. They’re located on State Street in New Haven and the venue is really cozy + open late. There’s a show almost every weekend with new bands and you can order coffee and drinks =^◡^= + Sultan is da man

Any Words to those who discredit local artists of any sort?

Q7. If you try to discredit an artist, it’s gotta be for a valid reason. Apart from that, I would take the time to think before you say something, as your words can harm your integrity as much as it can to the artist.

Community is a major factor: Do you have any words to those who support in any shape or

Q8. I love you, thank you for being here

Your music in your own words:

Q9. Hmmmm. I describe my music as an ambient space with lyrics touching upon my own mental health and being. In that space, I like to experiment, whether it’s distorted drums, a jazzy guitar intro, or a bouncy synth. I love harmonies, so I’ll usually slap on a bunch on a track and see where it takes me. I grew up playing a bunch of instruments as a kid, but the guitar always stuck best. R&B is my favorite, but I’m influenced by jazz, indie rock, rap, and emo too



Photo: Marklittle

Q1: Yeah, the art scene (especially the music scene) is thriving at its best that I’ve ever seen. And I think part of that is because so many inclusive groups want to collectively showcase their artwork in a healthy and positive way and not gatekeep. What makes it special is that there are spaces that can really benefit artists all over Connecticut. We never really had that. So the fact there’s a constant ongoing of so many spaces that not only make artists feel comfortable but also express themselves at the most.

Q2: Man there are so many! There are bands like Angelloor, Colbert, Burning Hand, Moxie Pocket, Montclair and so many more. I also love Trey Moore, Nehway, Kolton Harris, DJ QT, Sonia Morant, Ammar, Indigaux…there’s so many. I would be writing an essay on who I love around our state.

Q3: I think it’s happening now. We have a lot of pride in what we do and what we create. It’s the DIY approach we’re taking and I think that’s why CT is getting recognized now. We don’t have to rely on the big cities to get our attention.  We make our own hub and that’s how the scene really keeps growing.

Q4: The whole state! Haha whenever the spot is at as long there’s good vibes and the people are cool, I’m down.

Q5: The sleepers, because we get slept on how great we are.

Q6: Any events that be happening in New Haven, or small festivals that be happening. I try to make it out as much as it can. If not, usually social media.

Q7: Anyone who discredits local artists are very corny. To me it’s background noise. Those type of people just like to hate for no reason and they have to understand that takes artists to perfect their craft. It takes awhile to develop your sound so give these local artists a chance.

Q8: Thank you real. The supporters are the reason why we keep going. They’re the reason why we feel like we might have a shot and feel accepted. So without them, I wouldn’t believe in myself like y’all believe in me.

Q9: Peace

Pond View


Photo: Pond View
Q1.) The crowds and people who spend their time and money to come out and support that make the scene so special. We love our little group of friends that follow us around to each show we play and scream the words to our songs. That makes it all worth it.
Q2.) T!LT, who is our brother band that we share members with, TVOD (NYC), Bajzelle, Esmer, Brooke Dougan, and Sb Khi.
Q3.) Not sure if CT will ever develop the same reputation as NYC or Boston. It isn’t enough of a destination. There have been a few CT acts that got signed recently. More CT acts getting record deals would definitely help the scene grow more.
Q4.) Space Ballroom in Hamden, CT, used to be the State House.
Q5.) “Albert”
Q6.) Sharing bills with new bands you’ve never played with prior is a great way to meet cool people!
Q7.) Do what you wanna do baby, if lots of people think it sucks, maybe it like, does objectively? But if you like doing it, that’s lit go for it!
Q8.) Sleep with one eye open…


Photo: sb.khi

IG: sb.khi


Q1. What I find most special about the local scene is the sense of community. Everyone knows each other and offers a hand to one another when needed. For example, the band T!LT lets me use their studio space for practice, Artist CamyX! and I often share mixing/mastering advice and samples, and we both play in Esmer’s live band along with the drummer from Cadmium. I could go on and on but the point is that we, as a collective, have ultimately created a space where artists from every genre are constantly overlapping and intersecting, inspiring some to broaden their horizons and get even a little experimental with their sound.
Q2. Some of my favorite artists from the scene include Camyx! (AKA Cam Hall) Carter Lee (AKA Kip Lita) Nehway, Pond View, and T!LT, they were my first mosh pit back and inspired me to incorporate more rock elements in my music and live sets.
Q3. I’d say it’s already happening! For a while, it seemed like we were just trying to be an extension of the New York scene, I know so many artists (me included) who’ve had the plan to move down to the city because we thought that was the only way we’d actually grow and accumulate an audience. We’ve broken out of that mindset and instead cultivated a space of our own which has led us to gain that recognition. With every show, I see more and more new faces, people coming from further out to see us.
Q4. It was Crunch House, I had the pleasure of performing there a couple of times before it sadly got shut down. Lots of great memories there. The MAC is one of my current favorites, though. It’s right in the heart of downtown Milford, surrounded by good food, scenery, and a record shop by the name of Static Era Records where I get a lot of my samples
Q5 .I’m absolutely awful at naming things, but I do think The CT has a ring to it!
Q6. With a lot of venues shutting down such as Crunch House, Funk House, and State House (none of which are related lol) it’s not as easy to point out one place to discover artists and bands as it used to be. I will say though that any event organized by Luke McDonald is my favorite. Under the moniker of Great Minds, most of his shows reside in Milford, either at the MAC or the Firehouse Gallery, but have spanned all across New Haven County. His events are where I discovered artists and bands such as nusnce, Nehway, Edwin Camille, T!LT, and Mary Fraud (previously known as Eastine Akuni)
Q7. I think people like that are very closed-minded, we all have to start somewhere, no? Why discredit someone for that? The local artists here are some of the most talented, hard-working individuals I know and honestly, I can’t for those who discredit these local artists to eat their words when that work pays off.
Q8. Well first off, thank you. This whole thing is a team effort, everyone has a function. The audience, photographers/videographers, event organizers, sound engineers, etc etc. One wouldn’t work without the other, it’s so much bigger than me.
Q9. My music is really just a way for me to collect my thoughts. Whether I’m telling the story or reflecting upon it, every song I’ve written has been inspired by past experiences of strong emotions. In terms of genre, it’s all over the place, I never know how to categorize it. I like to experiment but I make sure those elements of sampled-based Hip-Hop and R&B I grew up on remain in the center of it all.

Shalya Monet

IG: shylamonet

Photo: Shyla Monet

Q1. I think what makes it special is the time and dedication us artists put in behind the scenes. Like behind closed doors, we’re all living normal lives, most of us working full-time jobs unrelated to our music careers and we still create space and time for creation. And then we get to come together and share our creations with the community at amazing events like Seeing Sounds, and other local shows. There’s also such a variety of sounds emerging from the state, it’s beautiful. 

Q2.Ooh as for artists I’ve been loving. cisco moon, snowsa, and Nehway! As for DJs/beat makers, moneyycatt, Kip Lita, and Ch’varda.

Q3. That’s very true lol, and I’ve noticed that many CT artists end up moving to the city and assimilating to that scene (which is cool and all) but like you said there’s been a renaissance of young/new talent coming out of the state and I think it’s only a matter of time until surrounding states and beyond start hearing us. It feels inevitable:)

Q4. I’ve only played like two lol but I love the Stella Blues stage, something cozy about it. 

Q5. smor·gas·bord. Referring to the wide array of sounds lol

Q6. Going to local shows is how I personally discovered that there even was an uprising scene in the area. Instagram is the plug for CT shows, shouts out pages like @ct.sets, @greatmindspresents to name a few. The first event I went to where I discovered local artists was at the Crunch House (r.i.p)

Q7. Lmao who does thattt 😭 

Q8. I am eternally grateful for anyone who’s given a listen and has shared my music despite the little I have out currently. I just started putting myself out there musically and the love has been overwhelming. It also inspires me to whip out that laptop and that mic! I’ve been the type of bitch to write a whole album and then just let it sit in my notes so knowing that there’s somewhat of a demand is motivation for sure 😭

Q9. A dreamy and very introspective nighttime walk on a yellow-lit street right after it rained (headphones in).

Trey Moore

Photo: Trey Moore


Q1. CT has always been a special place. There’s a deep history of creative people doing significant things and leaving their mark. Many of those artists are peers, relatives, and teachers…There’s also a deep history of these communities being denied opportunities and access in a way that’ll help them grow and actualize their ideas. I think we’re seeing the ripple effect of that, where among a generation of artists who are ambitious and ready to make it happen.
Q2. There are a lot of cool bands and individuals I think are cool. Ángel Loor, Keila Myles, Nehway,
ammar, Esmer, SB Khi, Eastside Lenny, Dave Phoenix, the list goes on…
Q3. I know CT is on a lot of people’s radar, they just don’t admit that openly. There are artists, and producers from here who have made a significant impact on culture, but they aren’t recognized in the way that they should be. I think that’s changing now. The artists here are developing and building a community here. Everyone is cool about it and supportive. Personally, I don’t think too much about other cities, what we have is special.
Q4. It was the State House before that shutdown, R.I.P
Q5. Uhh, I’m not too sure about a name.. So many different vibes here.
Q6. I created Seeing Sounds to discover people, so I’d say any of our events. I like to pop up at
random shows tho. I’ll listen to almost anything
Q7. Your opinion doesn’t matter in real life.
Q8. I’d just say Thank you honestly. We literally don’t exist without a community. We all need people
in this world and that support goes a long way.


IG: fuckvvebs

Photo: VVEBS
Q1. The Connecticut music scene as a whole is most definitely a renaissance of talent and creativity that is still very under the radar. Some are able to make it out but what we think is so special is the fact that we all truly are connected in a unique way; We all know that we are not appreciated enough by the rest of the world and it’s like we’re underground, but because of that we all realize each others talent and appreciate each other for being artists in a tough environment. We’re all in this like, artistic army.
Q2. Skavs, Killer Kin, Sustinet (just to name three) are our CT favs.
Q3. The surrounding states have bigger scenes and cities but there is a Connecticut sound that is growing. We’ve all been feeding off of each other and sooner or later people from out of state are going to start to see that and feel that.
Q4.  Our favorite venue has to be Cafe 9 it’s always consistent and fun.
Q5. New Haven
Q6. The best place to discover new music is anywhere there is a show going on. Show up to something you know nothing about and just watch. That’s always the best is just getting hit in the head with a new vibe at a venue and you’re like “Wow, they’re amazing”.
Q7. Enemies are enemies and opinions are just opinions, but there is always something to gain by trying to befriend and support your fellow artists. We’re all in the same struggle trying to accomplish the same goals. There’s no need to make it harder for others.
Q8. We’ve got it in our heads that we can help save rock and roll, so to our supporters, just keep supporting rock and roll as a whole. Study up and appreciate the original sounds from the 60s and 70s, and thank you for understanding the cause that we are fighting for. We’d love to continue to build a community that lives and breathes rock and roll 24/7
Q9. Everything that we’ve written right now started off as Stoney, drunken jam sessions that we recorded and then loosely structured into songs. We’re trying to get a nostalgic rock and roll sound with heavy influence from our peers and contemporary psych rock. We’re definitely using music as an outlet to say things we’ve been wanting to say for a long time. Lyrically, we’ve got some songs that are about bad decisions in the past, others are about current frustrations, and others are about love and excitement for life. We’re all over the place right now

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