Colin O’Brien-Lux believes art should be democratic, involving the participation of both artist and viewer.
O’Brien-Lux, a theater alumnus, performs as an electronic and experimental music artist under the name Goosehappen, a pseudonym he chose for the fluid way the words sound when spoken aloud. He said his musical work likewise seeks to delineate the relation between sound and feeling.
O’Brien-Lux finished working on a new series of singles in October, along with a music video for his song “Birds Fucking.” His debut album entitled “My Dove is a Whale” is set to release in December. O’Brien-Lux said his background in theater helped him segue into his new role as a professional musician and performance artist, giving him the skills to design experimental shows as well as self-produce and self-promote his music and launch his career, he said.
Inspired by the abstract, O’Brien-Lux seeks to blend electronic music with experimental theatrics in his work, he said. In the musician’s live-show shenanigans, he once brought a female performer wrapped up in plastic like a corpse onstage to express his propensity for experimentation. The costumed corpse eventually pantomimed coming to life by unraveling her bandages and walking offstage, O’Brien-Lux said.
In July, while performing at a house show in West Covina, California, O’Brien-Lux appeared completely naked before a crowd of total strangers and relished in the moment of bare self-expression, he said.
“I was using nudity a lot during my shows without contextualizing them in any meaning,” O’Brien-Lux said.
As a UCLA student, he booked gigs in Ackerman Union and performed as a soloist in Spring Sing 2010, but O’Brien-Lux now finds himself exploring unfamiliar terrain in the professional world, hoping to discover fresh and inventive ways to express himself, he said.
Inspired by great theater deconstructionists Robert Wilson and Bertolt Brecht, O’Brien-Lux rearranged typical song structures in order to create dissonant resonance and unique melodies for his Goosehappen project.
“I am attracted to the idea of disassociated elements,” O’Brien-Lux said. “I wanted to challenge the idea of what a song really is.”
Along with weaving his self-designed theatrical elements into his shows, O’Brien-Lux has taken a similar do-it-yourself route when it comes to the assembly of his own content by producing and recording his own music, he said.
Jesse Johnstone, a 20th Century Fox audio engineer who mixed two of the songs on O’Brien-Lux’s upcoming album, admires O’Brien-Lux’s willingness to experiment with the absurd.
“He’s a very open-minded musician,” Johnstone said. “He’s always trying to push boundaries and find new sounds.”
O’Brien-Lux has had to rely on multitasking and self-motivation with no team to help distribute the workload, he said. He gave himself a work regimen of 15 hours a week, every week for a year, with assignments such as learning to operate music production software Ableton Live, shooting his own videos and promoting his new music on social media.
Alex Heerman, a longtime friend of O’Brien-Lux as well as the visual artist behind his debut album cover, believes his friend has evolved to an artistic level fit for success he said.
“If the right ears are able to hear what he’s doing there’s going to be great things in his future,” Heerman said.
In regards to the themes of his upcoming project O’Brien-Lux said he leaves interpretation solely to the audience.
He said the debut album will be a noisy electronic experimental sound that aims to satisfy fans of the pop genre.
But regardless of audience’s reception to his experimental work, the beauty of O’Brien-Lux’s do-it-yourself approach to music is that it is wholly his own, he said.
“At the end of the day you’re the only one who knows what you want and what you’re doing,” O’Brien-Lux. “Make sure you’re listening to yourself.”