The Concrete Version
Brooklyn-based music artist Bowen spent 15 years writing, playing, and recording music for himself and with friends before releasing his first single, “Your Arms Are My Walls,” and a self-produced music video filmed with his iPhone in January 2015 at the age of 24, two years after moving to New York City from southern California.
For an independent first release it received a promising response. The UK music blog Bitter Sweet Symphonies claimed, “It’s hard to resist the indelible power of ‘Your Arms Are My Walls’.” KDHX radio in St. Louis added, “Sometimes less isn’t just more; sometimes less is everything. One listen to the beautifully minimalist ballad ‘Your Arms Are My Walls’ and you’ll get the picture.”
Having made a public debut, Bowen began playing open mics around New York City, hoping to hone an extensive collection of raw material into a repertoire of polished songs. He also played stylized covers and tested out new material at a variety of less traditional venues: a local flea market, live music yoga classes, and various New York City park benches.
In June 2015, Bowen released a second single, “Look Here, Now,” along with another self-produced music video. This time Bitter Sweet Symphonies premiered the video, saying, “Bowen’s heartfelt sentiment of never giving up on your hopes and dreams, and never caving into the pressures of life’s uncertainties is triumphant.”
Immediately after, Bowen began laying down the first guitar tracks for “Sustain” right across the hall from his Bushwick apartment, in the home studio of sound producer and Color Tongue frontman, George Miata. “Sustain” would take over a year to finally be completed, as Bowen carefully worked out each part before recording it across the hall, and wrestled with the balance of work, life, and music in New York. He brought in a friend, Joshua Coyne, to play a prominent violin part, and fellow singer-songwriter Kelsi Candelaria to record vocal harmonies. The track was recorded and mixed by George Miata, and mastered by Joe Lambert.
In 2016 Bowen recruited six friends to accompany him in his debut NYC show at Rockwood Music Hall on Friday, May 5. Packing Rockwood’s modest “Stage 1” space with over seventy friends and fans, he presented a set of never-before-heard songs written at the end of his first year in New York City, lushly arranged with drums, bass, strings, and elaborate vocal harmonies. Bowen claimed that this show would be the only time he’d share those songs — heavy-hearted pieces he felt he just needed to get off his chest before focusing on his newer material — but there are those who are trying to convince him otherwise.
In June of 2016, Bowen sat down with cinematographer Jenelle Pearring at Ost Cafe in the East Village to begin planning a music video for “Sustain” that would leave the iPhone camera behind and fully embrace a professional production process. After several more meetings between June and October, the video was shot in a day in October and then headed into post-production. In the meantime, Bowen signed with the New York City independent label, Mochi House.
Now, at the beginning of 2017, Bowen awaits the imminent release “Sustain” and its accompanying music video — a single presenting a more articulate, complex, and polished artist brimming with potential for bringing us more great songs. As of now, a follow-up single, EP, or LP has not yet been formally announced.
The Abstract/Personal Version
I’m a decent musician by way of many years of practice, and an "artist" only in the sense that I'm a person who feels a fundamental need to create. I have to produce form and meaning from the heap of images, sounds, reflections, feelings, words, and ideas in my head; speak back to the beauty and tension daily surrounding me; and try to make my imaginings into reality.
My personal imperative has an indispensable second half: to uplift and care for people and contribute to a more compassionate, peaceful, and just world. I'm embarking on what I see as a much larger creative project than solely making music, one I hope will eventually include more artistic mediums, collaborations, and a tangible, real-world impact. How will I pull that off? Where it will it lead? I honestly don’t know, but I am going to try anyway. I invite you to follow the journey.
What you'll find in my music and lyrics so far is a message at once tender and challenging, compassionate and critical. You'll find a sound, voice, and ideal that is genuine, passionate, introspective, and idealistic. You may also hear how my high-minded visions are fragmented by anxiety and depression, the challenges and ambiguities of daily experience, and disillusionment with entering adult life. The results, I believe, are (and will continue to be) quite interesting.