Mid Coast Autumnal Equinox; ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Chino, Kevin Arroyo, EMTN, T!ny, Nimbus!

Mid Coasted hosted an Autumnal Equinox show at Cactus Club this past Thursday evening featuring Chino, Kevin Arroyo, Adorner, EMTN, T!ny, and Nimbus. They supported Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression (MAARPR), an organization that works with families of victims of police crimes to put an end to police misconduct, prison profiteering, political racism and economic injustice through organizing around the passage of legislation known as the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC).

Chino is a hip hop artist based in Kenosha. Thursday was his first-ever performance; reflecting on it, he said, “It was so dope…everyone was cool with it. In my head I was hoping that people would be clapping and vibing to it and that’s exactly what happened. I’ve always thought down on my music but now that I’m here and I did this, I’m so fucking happy.”

He’s been making music since he was a preteen. “Before I was making music,” he recalled, “I was going to the library with my mom and I’d print Nas and Jay-Z lyrics and I’d really study the fuck out of them. It just turned into me constantly writing to anything I ever heard, and then I finally found my own kind of beats.”

Aside from Nas and Jay-Z, Chino cites his biggest influences as Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and Mac Miller. “I also like a lot of jazz,” he said. “I don’t always know the names of the songs or even the artists but I’ll just type in ‘jazz’ on YouTube and play hours of it.”

Chino has a Soundcloud and has songs available to stream there. “Most of the songs I performed tonight are on there,” he said. “Some of the songs on there I didn’t perform tonight just because they’re too emotional. I gave up for a while…I took my page down and everything…but now I’m back and this shit has gotten me so hyped up and I want to keep doing this and get bigger. It’s a really good feeling. I’m kind of on writer’s block right now and trying to get my life situated. But there’s so much more to life than just working a 9 to 5 and I feel like I could really do something with this shit.”

Kevin Arroyo is an indie pop artist currently based in Waukegan, Illinois although he was raised in Kenosha. Previously known as Lil Kev, he recently switched to performing under his own name. He explained, “I spent so many years as Lil Kev and it’s hard to do a name change. I just felt my name sounds unique like Mac Demarco or Omar Apollo.”

Thursday was Arroyo’s first performance in Milwaukee. “In 8th grade I started messing around with music,” he said about his start. “As a little kid I saw a lot of artists like Daddy Yankee, J Cole and Eminem and it made me want to make music of my own. It’s something I want to do in the long run and something I want to do to provide for my family.”

He’s also influenced by artists like Boy Pablo and Cuco. Like Chino, Kevin Arroyo has a Soundcloud with lots of music available to stream. He said on what he’s working on now, “I have two songs that I’m trying to release; one is coming out on October 15th called “Waiting for You” which is like a slow dancing song. Then I have this other song called “My Love” which was the last song I performed tonight and it’s my favorite song I’ve made so far. I’m also working on my new clothing line called Kindness.”

EMTN is an indie-alternative rock band consisting of vocalist/guitarist Elijah Rego, lead guitarist Henry Blair, bassist Juan Martinez, and drummer Sam Henning. Based in Madison, the band’s sound encompasses elements of grunge, indie pop and punk. The band formed in December 2019 right before COVID hit.

Their name means “everything means totally nothing.” Rego explains on the band’s formation, ” I knew Juan from high school and he was roommates with Henry. We had a different drummer and a fifth member at the time but both of them left the band on good terms, and then Sam joined as our drummer last May; he was friends with Juan from school. Sam really changed everything for the band; everything you hear from us on Spotify does not sound like how we sound now. All our stuff from before is like indie bedroom pop stuff mostly because we didn’t have the facilities to be really loud, and Sam especially is into heavy stuff like nu metal and metalcore. Originally I was a solo artist and I went by EMTN meaning ’emotion’ without the vowels to shorten it, but it kind of grew into a lot more than that. “early morning tired nights” was the acronym for a while when we were more in the indie side, and then recently we decided on “everything means totally nothing” which we feel is the best phrase to describe us and our outlook on life.”

The band dropped an EP titled “Brainstem” last year and their most recent single “Mental Holiday” dropped this past June. “It was the first song we wrote with Sam in the band,” Rego said about “Mental Holiday.” “We wrote it all in one night and it kind of became our anthem for our transition as a band…it has a little of our old sound and a little of our new sound meshing together. In our old iteration I didn’t play guitar very much so that was like the last coming of our “Brainstem” sound before everything we’re going to release from now on.”

On his lyrics, Rego shared, “The most recent song in our set we played is “Astronaut Food 4″ which we purposely tried to create a strange name for that has little to nothing to do with the song. The song is really a commentary on my outlook on life and bad luck and how things feel like they’ve been going against me recently. I think about specific events with friends not being super truthful about things, so the song is like a ‘fuck you’ to everyone who’s wronged me.”

EMTN are taking a break from shows to work on their new album. “We’re halfway through recording demos,” Rego said. “We just opened up a studio called EMTN Studios in Madison and we’re hoping to bring other artists in and get our business going with that. Other than that we’re focusing on honing in on our sound and building a following.”

T!ny is an artist who marries hip hop and hyperpop. They’re originally from Alabama and began making music right before they moved to Milwaukee. It’s been about a year now; their first performance was at Cactus Club last December.

“I’ve always been making songs but I started really putting it together when I got to Milwaukee,” T!ny said. “The music scene here is just so inviting and people are very accepting. I’m so happy I met Flowers and Deja Dahlia Simmons and Hi-Milly…their music is all amazing and they work their asses off…it’s really inspiring.”

T!ny cites Doja Cat, Lil Uzi Vert, PinkPantheress, Playboi Carti, Sade, Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige as influences. Their debut EP “Love Lorn” dropped last February. Reflecting on what they wanted to do with it, they said, “It was me basically saying goodbye to my old emotions. When I left Alabama behind I definitely left my heartbroken emotions behind with it and it felt like unrequited love, and now I hate making love songs (laughs). I love the EP but it’s so sad.”

Their most recent single is “Succubus.” T!ny shares about the song, “I said I would put that love shit behind but I didn’t (laughs). When I made that song, I was saying that I’m not the succubus – the person I’m with is – but also there’s a persona I have to put on so that people know who I am.”

T!ny shares what they’re working on now. “I’m trying to go for an FKA Twigs vibe next and I’m so excited; I want to pour out emotions but where you can still dance to it.”

Nimbus! is a hip hop artist born and raised in Milwaukee. He performed on Tuesday with his two good friends accompanying him on stage to keep the energy up. His name is an anime reference. “I’ve been making music for a long time but I started taking it serious when I hit freshman year,” he explained. “We had a song on Soundcloud called “Hotbox and Cheerios” that got like 5,000 plays and from there we started taking it seriously.”

Nimbus’ biggest influences are DC the Don, SoFaygo, PnB Rock and DMX. He’s got music on Soundcloud as both a solo artist and as a duo. “Me and my homie got our page Rocketboys and have some of our separate songs on there,” Nimbus! said. “I also drop music on my own page Nimbus! with an exclamation point – don’t forget that. My homie also drops music under Nikeese.”

On what he’s working on now, Nimbus! shared, “I’m working on a new album but it might just be a mixtape…I have so many songs and I don’t know which it’ll be yet. But that’ll be in the next couple months or so.”

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