Artist Spotlight: Audible Kink, Onyx Koan, The Quilz

The Quilz.

A stacked bill at Bremen Cafe took place Friday night; folk duo Audible Kink, folk rockers Onyx Koan, and synthwave duo The Quilz all took the stage and brought their specific energies despite the hot room.

Audible Kink is a duo consisting of vocalist/ukelele player Erica Meshke and vocalist/guitarist/cajon player James Ozminkowski. They do not have music out yet on streaming platforms but have videos of both covers and originals on their Facebook page. Covers they performed Friday night were “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood, “Broadripple is Burning” by Margot & the Nuclear So-So’s, and “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran. Heartbreak is a frequent theme throughout their ditties.

“It’s all I know how to write about,” Meshke said jokingly. ‘I feel like if I feel a negative emotion I can just put it in a song and then it’ll stay there and I’ll never have to feel it again.”

Meshke primarily writes lyrics while Ozminkowski is her musical accompaniment – Ozminkowski has music of his own he writes separately.

“James is a really good solo artist; he has a lot of solo material,” Meshke explained. “All of my stuff was more conducive for two people; it’s easier to turn my songs into duets. He’s a poet so a lot of his songs are very lyrically challenging…my stuff is more simple and happy and easy to follow.”

Audible Kink hope to have something recorded by the end of the year.

“When I stop feeling so goddamn nervous about people hearing me and not thinking I’m good enough,” Meshke laughed. “By the end of 2019 we will have at least a single people can download.”

Onyx Koan is the project of vocalist/guitarist Mark Hubing, guitarist Tom Parker, bassist Gus Schwab, and drummer Ron Terrell. Parker is the newest addition; he has been in the band for about three weeks. Hubing has been writing and performing music for over two decades and released his debut EP “Burn It Slow” on Christmas Eve 2018.

“I went to one of the Hi-Five Studio gatherings…I’ve known Ryan Rosmann since I was younger,” Hubing said. “Ron Terrell was playing drums in the open jam and I thought he was really good. I was getting ready to form a group so I found him online and asked him if he was interested in playing and we sent each other some songs, and then we started playing together. Jump forward a few months and we brought on my friend Gus, who I had known through a couple other bands up near West Bend – he lives fifty minutes away but he’s willing to drive and do it. Then very recently I had a few responses from a Craigslist ad and was looking for a lead player. I met with three people and they did not work out. I got a response from Tom Parker; we met and I asked if he would prepare a song of mine and see what he would actually do on it. What he did was really awesome and liked my songs, so we’ve been collaboratively a group for three weeks now.”

When Hubing began playing, he did open mics at Bremen. Parker is also no stranger to the place.

“This is one of my favorite – if not my favorite – places in the city,” Parker said. “I’ve been to their open mics so I was really happy when Mark told me we’d be playing here. I’ve been super stoked all day. I think tonight went perfectly; I look at our mistakes as being beautiful.”

Onyx Koan is currently recording a song “Alabaster Telecaster” which they hope to release in the next few months. They are working with Beyond Audio Recording in West Bend.

The Quilz consist of vocalist Becky Heck and instrumentalist/backing vocalist Sage Schwarm. The duo is known for their extravagant light display programmed by Schwarm, which despite its bulkiness made Friday an especially intimate show for them.

“I was really pumped,” Heck said. “I thought the room was awesome and really welcoming and so cozy. I felt like I had a lot of one-on-one time with our fans out there.”

They formed after making a song together that got played around town, and were encouraged to make more music.

“I was so flattered,” Heck said. “Having people so interested in what we were doing and wanting more made me think it was something I could do. I just loved being a groupie for Sage before and I never thought I’d be more responsible. This gives me something to keep my head clear because I absolutely love doing this.”

Their debut album “Fishing for Ketchup” came out in May. They have limited-time copies of ketchup-colored vinyl available at their shows.

“I love condiments, and you know when you go fishing for them in the bag and get so disappointed if they’re not there…I wanted our album to be the ultimate topping,” Heck explained. “I wanted people to be disappointed if it wasn’t there.”

“(Our album) is the ketchup. Fries are great, but you wouldn’t want to eat fries without ketchup,” Schwarm added. “It’s a very abstract thing, and it sounds cool. We recorded fifteen songs and that was the goal, then we would pick our favorite ten or eleven. The CD has three bonus tracks too. We worked on it for two and a half years. When we first started out we did about half covers and half originals, and then it got to be about only a third covers. This album is all originals, and our idea is to put out an album of all covers next.”

They own a record shop together in Bay View called Luv Unlimited. Schwarm also regularly spins “Retro Night” at Mad Planet on Fridays along with DJ Avets.

“I’ve been listening to all kinds of awesome artists like Mark Bohlen, David Bowie, and Janis Joplin just to name a couple…they’ve just gotten inside me and I feel like they’re channeling me – I really use that in my lyric writing. I listen to the beats Sage will put on my practice list and kind of figure out the words I think should go there.”

The Quilz have collaborated with Milwaukee artists Dashcam and Robot Witch on music that should be coming out shortly. They have another single dropping in October. They have a number of shows coming up – Pumpkin Pavilion, New Wave Fest and the Pabst Taproom are just a few.

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