Writer and editor Gabrielle Cazeaux had the pleasure to sit down with musical artist Owen Trawick, better known as Everybody’s Worried About Owen for an interview discussing their career and experiences as a new artist in the scene in the month of the release of his new and second-ever EP, Nunemaker’s Swingset, and of his first-ever tour.
Welcome to GateCrashers. Today we’re here with Owen, from Everybody’s Worried About Owen. Do you want to introduce yourself first before we start?
Yeah! Hi. I’m Owen, Everybody’s Worried About Owen. Folk-punk/indie rock/DIY emo musical artist, and my pronouns are he/they.
We’re going to start with our classic question from GateCrashers, which I think you’re going to appreciate, considering you’re from New York, right?
What is your favorite sandwich?
My favorite sandwich? Oh, probably like a good Nashville hot chicken sandwich. I’m losing loyalty points for New York for sure. But I think going to Nashville and getting a Nashville hot chicken sandwich is the best thing like food experience I’ve ever had.
You’ve mentioned DIY ethics, folk punk, and the fifth wave of emo influences. Why did those genres or sounds feel fitting for you to communicate your art through?
The sound part, I just really enjoy the sort of stripped-down approach to a lot of folk punk music. I think it’s amazing what you can do with simple sounds, and then taking those simple sounds and making things that sound super complicated with them. And I think lyrically, a lot of the lyrics in the folk-punk community spoke to me. But the biggest part of all of these things, in terms of inspiration is just the actual community they foster. I think the idea of getting together and supporting each other as artists and helping each other in any way we can to make art is a wonderful thing. And I think creating communities that are willing to help each other out and willing to personally invest in someone else’s success—I think that’s a beautiful, awesome thing. And so that was the biggest point of inspiration for me.
And how did you get started in the community, was it with your music or before?
I sort of started on the outskirts. I found a lot of this stuff through Twitter, Spotify, and I was just kind of like a casual listener. But the more that I got into it over the pandemic, the more I wanted to actually be a part of something. And it’s been a bit of a road because I’m in school and everything, so it’s hard to get out to events sometimes. But this summer, I’m going on tour. So hopefully, I should get to meet a whole bunch of awesome people and build some relationships and have a good time.
That’s great. Good luck on the tour.
Also, I didn’t mention it. My fault! The reason why we are talking now is that you recently released your second EP, Nunemaker’s Swingset. Congratulations on the EP. It’s amazing. I loved it. Can you describe the journey of creating Nunemaker’s Swingset to me? How did it start? How did it build up to what it is now?
Yeah, sure. After I finished the last EP, I knew I wanted to make the next one a little bit more—to invest a little bit more into it, and to make it a higher quality thing and really work hard on it. Because I saw the success of the last one. And the first EP was kind of just, uh, let’s see if people enjoy this thing; turns out they do. So now it’s time to really kick it into high gear.
I wrote most of the songs over the course of last year. And then at the beginning of this year, I reached out to my friend Dan, who is also a producer, and Dan helped me just put everything together and record everything. And Dan’s one of those people who like, we just click, so we just kept throwing ideas back and forth. And the process kind of happened naturally as we built the songs; they completely changed from what they started as, and when I played the acoustic versions, it’s almost like two different songs, which is really exciting to me because I’ve got this awesome music that I can play acoustically, and then I also have the awesome recorded version.
That process was super natural. And then Dan included Chandler on the drums. Chandler is based in Nashville. He’s an amazing drummer. He did all the drums for the album. And that’s kind of how everything came together in terms of the actual recording process.
I want to talk about TikTok. You blew up there. Big. And I feel like we’ve seen lately a rise in people who create music tailored to the app. Trying to appeal to the algorithm and the demographic there. I’ve even seen some people from the emo scene using words like ‘’unaliving’’ in their lyrics, which felt kind of antithetical to the genre.
I can see that.
What has been your experience as a music artist on the platform? As someone who has gained a lot of popularity from it?
I think people, in terms of talking about TikTok, they’re always like, either I hate this, this is an evil thing for music, or this is the best thing that’s ever happened for musical artists. And I think there can be some nuance there.
I think the app itself—it’s been really great for my specific community because all I really did for a long time was just post videos of me singing and it was kind of just if they liked it, they would sign on, and if they didn’t, they would scroll away.
And then I blew up, like a couple of videos, which is really just luck. I really don’t think it comes down to anything but that you’re just throwing things at TikTok and hoping that it goes well. But I think it’s really cool that there’s such a vocal community of artists on Tik Tok. And I think you can find a whole bunch of smaller artists, more than you used to be able to, but it has also created a space where you can tailor your stuff to making it big on TikTok and not really have any heart and soul in the music.
I don’t know, it’s a complicated issue. But I think it’s a net positive if you’re willing to not lose yourself in it and not make yourself crazy.
Yeah, I actually met your music through TikTok, I think it was a sneak peek of Nunemaker’s Parable, which is, I think, one of your most watched TikToks. And that was something that attracted me to it. It sounded very raw.
So this new EP, Nunemaker’s Swingset has a lot of anti-capitalist and anti-industry message messages that weren’t present in your previous EP, There Are Leeches in Denton Lake, which had a more introspective perspective, in my opinion. So what was the process for you of realizing that’s something you wanted to talk about in your songs?
Right. So, when I wrote There Are Leeches In Denton Lake, it was kind of just like a therapeutic process for me, I was just spitting out all of my emotions. And then when it came to this EP, I was like, well, if I’m going to do this, and I’m going to take this seriously, what do I want to say? What do I want to write about? And I think, if I’m going to claim to participate in the folk-punk community, in the DIY community, it’s important to also adhere to the ethics and the beliefs of those communities. I hold those same beliefs, I think it’s important to talk about the dangers that being in a capitalistic society has, I think it’s important to not let people with immense power feel like they’re getting away with it unnoticed. And I think it’s important to create a safe space to be angry about all of these things. Because sometimes there’s no productive thing to do with that anger, and you just need to listen to a song about it and yell about it.
I don’t know. It’s a weird position for me, specifically, because I’m a person with a lot of inherent privilege, so I don’t want to come out and be like, “I’m the leader of a fucking revolution“, because that feels really disingenuous to me, but I still I wanted to talk about it, at least in a tasteful way, and I think I did that, hopefully.
I think you did. I think the songs really demonstrate it. Are there any other influences or genres that might seem interesting for you to experiment with?
I don’t know. I love folk punk. I love Midwest emo. But I want to continue to explore harder sounds and become more of a punk band and less of an indie project. It’s just something I’m learning. A lot of my background, before I started doing this, was in theater. So musical theater and punk music are not exactly hand-to-hand singing styles. So I’ve been learning a lot, I’ve been practicing. I’ve been studying guitar and learning new chord progressions and things. Tilley Komorny is my guitar teacher, and she’s the best if anyone wants a guitar teacher out there. She’s helped me a lot with developing my sound and finding new stuff to play with. And so I’m just hoping to expand more into that side of my music if that makes sense.
Now that we’re talking about your music background, how did you get into music? And how did you realize that’s what you really wanted to do?
It’s a long road. So I started playing guitar when I was six, my dad got me my first guitar, because my dad played guitar, has multiple guitars, it’s been a part of my life forever. And then we had a good amount of years where I was just like, a kid playing guitar, taking guitar lessons, not really expecting that this was going to be a career for me or whatever, but enjoying it.
And then I started doing theater, which is when I started like singing. I mean, I’ve been singing as a hobby my entire life. But that’s when I started taking singing seriously.
Then I stopped playing guitar for a while, and that was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. And then all of a sudden, in high school, I was like, let me take this back up again. Because there’s a bunch of people in my school making cool music, so I want to I want to try and do that again. That’s when I started practicing pretty seriously. And then the pandemic is when I really decided okay, I’m actually gonna make something. So, played guitar, stopped playing guitar, started playing guitar again, released an EP.
How did the pandemic influence you?
A lot of free time, sitting around. Because I was in my senior year of high school at that point. So I luckily didn’t have other things to be worrying about. I was just sitting at home. And I was like, I’m losing my absolute mind. So I started writing, and the first draft, I wrote a bunch of songs that just were bad, really bad. But I just kept practicing. And eventually, I had some stuff where I listened to it and I was like, “This isn’t bad. Now I can put it out!“ It was just a lot of free time and a lot of not knowing what to do with myself. And I was like, “Well, this is something I’ve always wanted to do. Let’s do it.“
And how does it feel for you? How is it to expose your art and yourself through that?
It’s definitely been awesome. I can’t even lie. I love putting out music. Part of it is like, yes, I want people to listen to it and enjoy it. But the other thing is, when I’m proud of something, and you actually put it out into the world, it feels like an achievement. It feels like something where you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I did that.“ It’s this burst of dopamine. I feel like every time I release a song, it’s like, oh, no, it’s better than drugs.
Again, you’re from New York. How did your hometown shape your interest in music and your own art? And now that you’re in Miami, Is it maybe adding to that in any way?
My hometown is a funny little place. I’d say the biggest musical influence that my hometown had on me was just other bands that existed in my town. I wasn’t playing at the time, but the bands that like played at my high school and stuff, they were always fun. There were a couple of them who I was friends with and they made some really cool music. And I always, in the back of my head, I was like, “One day, I’m gonna put out music.“
But that was that’s really the only influence my hometown has had on it. Except for like lyrics and stuff. I love writing about places; I’ll write about a hometown, I’ll write about a camp, I’ll write about whatever.
But coming to Miami, I think I really started doubling down on the sound that I liked, as opposed to what I think people were gonna like. Because coming down here—people down here are the most confident I’ve ever—I’ve never met more confident people and you kind of just have to stick to whatever you like and whatever your guns are, and be fully confident in that because if not…I got eaten up when I got here. I could barely get a word into a conversation. Miami people are a different breed. They’re awesome, though.
I guess that helped you too, with your music?
100%. I feel like I’m definitely a more confident person.
And how’s it for you, as an artist from your particular music scene to create with the current state of the music industry?
That’s a weird one. Because right now, I’m not technically I feel like part of the scene yet. Once I start playing, once I start being in those spaces, I’ll feel comfortable calling myself that, you know.
In terms of the industry, I haven’t really interacted with the industry much because all of my stuff has been independently released. So it’s kind of just the audience I’ve gathered through TikTok and whatever and hoping that people find me through Spotify. But I don’t know, I feel like the music industry right now—there’s a couple of main issues. Obviously, streaming services don’t pay artists enough, and I feel like that’s a huge problem, especially for smaller artists. I’m really lucky that I can make like, a decent amount off of my music, because I’ve gotten a decent-sized following. But it’s not sustainable for a lot of people, and that sucks. Because there’s a lot of people out there who don’t ’have the numbers, but are still making music that’s better than 90% of the shit out there. So I just wish there was a more of an appreciation amongst the industry for the people that make the music that they make money off of. That doesn’t feel crazy to me.
Absolutely. You’re going on your first tour, right?
And what are you expecting from that?
I’m fucking terrified. I’m so scared. But I’m also so excited. Because you know, I’ve never done this before. So everything, every decision I make, every piece of planning coming up to it, is just, “Am I doing the right thing? Who knows, we’re just going to try it out and see if it works.“
I’m lucky that Emma of The Last Arizona is helping me book everything and is an amazing booking agent. The only reason this tour exists is because of her. But I’m really excited. I just want to meet people. There are so many people I’m dying to meet and so many fans I’m excited to interact with. And I’m excited to actually go out and spread the music physically, instead of just clicking a button in my bedroom and being like, “Alright, there it is.“
That’s great. We should plan an interview for after the tour. See how everything changes.
Absolutely. Got the merch too, tour merch!
Awesome. Is it already selling for everyone else?
Um, no. So I did a limited buy because I don’t know how much I’m going to need. We’re going to see how tour goes in terms of selling, and then if there’s a demand afterwards, I’m gonna put them up on Bandcamp and people can get more. I’m really excited. This is super cool. My best friend, Emi, did the designs for them. And it’s been something I’ve been wanting to do for a while.
Yeah, they’re great. And now everybody who listens to the interview knows that they should buy it on your tour.
What are some specific bands that you love? And what has been the process of developing your own personality and sound for your music?
Well, we can be here all day. But let’s name just a couple, shall we? AJJ is a big one. Probably one of the bigger folk punk acts out there. Apes of the State, Pat the Bunny, Arcadia Gray is a band that I love, Local News Legend, Origami Angel. I could sit here and name bands forever. But in terms of coming up with my own sound that is based off of all those things, I think what started it was I had to be creative because I didn’t really know any music theory when I started. I couldn’t match like “Oh, to sound like this artist. I need to do these things.“ I didn’t have those skills yet. So I was just kind of following the vibe and writing lyrics that felt like they were in the similar vein to what other people were writing about and then my own personal flair just came from messing around on the guitar and finding sounds that I liked.
That’s kind of still the core of my process. Even though I have a larger base on what to do now and actually how to use the instrument, I still like to just mess around and see what sounds good and don’t worry about “Does it sound like it fits in a particular genre,“ or whatever. I just worry about if it sounds good to me.
And what can we expect from you in the future? Beyond the tour, in regards to the a EP, what do you want to do?
I want to keep making music and I want to—I missed kind of a year in between Nunemaker’s Swingset and There are Leeches in Denton Lake. I had a year where the only thing out was one single. I think moving forward, as I transition out of education and get into doing this as a main time thing, I want to keep getting more music out. I want to keep touring with new people and playing shows. I want to develop some music videos; I think we’ve got the sleepwalking music video out but apart from that, we have I haven’t done much in that realm. I don’t know. I just want to keep doing everything I am and multiply it by 10.
Do you feel like your musical theater background will help you with the music videos?
Maybe. It’s a different world, for sure. But I don’t know, it’s been a weird time learning theater. But there are definitely some skills that transfer. And it’s an art form that I still appreciate, you know?
Yeah. Well, I think that’s all. It has been wonderful. Again, congratulations on your EP. It’s fantastic. I love every single song, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it. It’s been great talking to you.
Thank you so much. It’s been great talking to you, too. Thank you so much for inviting me on.