Artists don’t make art because someone asked them to. The student artist’s job involves anticipating the need for art in their community — or recognizing this need within themselves — and finding the ability to advocate for and pursue it. No small task.
Lily Silver SC ’23, Alex Albrecht CM ’23, Graham Derzon-Supplee PZ ’22 and Luis Verdin CM ’22 are four such artists who have recognized their internal need to make art, channeling it into forming their band, Josie on the Rocks (Josie for short).
The band’s formation was described by Silver as “serendipitous.” Albrecht (bass and back-up vocals) and Silver (lead vocals and keyboard) grew up in Seattle, Washington, but met for the first time through a mutual friend in the summer of 2021. Silver proposed that the two play music together when they returned to school in the fall.
When Albrecht and Silver both discovered that the other was serious about starting a band, they unknowingly thought of the same drummer and lead guitarist: Derzon-Supplee and Verdin. Derzon-Supplee had gotten many similar offers in the past.
“If I had $1 for everybody that said we should start a band, I’d have like at least $8,” Derzon-Supplee said.
The other bands he had joined in past years had been fun, but they never met frequently enough to keep making progress and writing new songs. This one, though, felt different.
“It was one of those things that felt very meant to be,” Silver said.
At the band’s first concert this fall, a 5C Ski Club event at Last Name Brewery, they settled on the name Josie on the Rocks minutes before performing.
“And thus, we were a band,” Derzon-Supplee said.
If he “absolutely had to put a label on it,” Verdin said Josie would be labeled indie or alt rock.
All four members have different musical backgrounds, influence and interests. Silver and Albrecht share a love of the Seattle grunge scene, while Derzon-Supplee drums to electronic music. Verdin mostly practices jazz, although he listens to a ton of heavy metal, Latin music, rock and hip hop.
“At first, it was kind of like whoa, we are all trying to do something very different from each other right now,” Silver said. “But then after a couple practices, we ended up realizing, that was kind of the coolest thing about what we have going on.”
Josie is a collaborative process: each member agrees that everyone contributes to the creation process equally. Sometimes, they’ll start by jamming and write lyrics after; other times, Silver or Albredcht will propose some pre-written lyrics. Although Derzon-Supplee hadn’t done much songwriting in the past, Silver said that one night he picked up her ukulele and “blossomed,” writing eight songs in one night.
Being a student and a performer comes with its challenges. Both Derzon-Supplee and Albrecht reported feeling utterly overwhelmed by their commitments this year. Between school, sports, clubs and being in another band, Albrecht said, “I just don’t think I gave myself enough time in the week to do any one thing well.” Even so, he still experienced the band as “overwhelmingly positive and fun.”
“It’s a release even when you’re working hard,” Albrecht said, and being motivated for something “that is not just a solo endeavor” gives Derzon-Supplee a cause — something to care about more than his schoolwork. Verdin craves the kind of musical fulfillment that Josie gives him. He sees “being a part of the band, and constantly involved in musical activities” as “the best de-stressor” he could think of.
Silver credits Josie as the reason she came back to school this year after having a difficult summer mental-health-wise. Even so, before Josie’s first show, Silver feared her anxiety would stop her from getting on stage. “I was thinking, I totally made these guys think that this is something I can do. And I can’t do it,” Silver said. But she did, and what she gained from being onstage was overwhelmingly positive. “I haven’t felt that little anxiety in a really long time,” even in regular life, Silver said.
The members of Josie trust each other, and performing has become a ritual that all of the members now depend on for the good of their mental health, fulfillment, and sense of purpose.
Band members want to advise their peers who are worried about time management while prioritizing artistic endeavors to focus on what fulfills them in the present. Playing music for enjoyment in the present, regardless of what it might bring them in the future, is vital to the wholeness of Josie’s members’ lives. It’s important for us all to find what is meaningful and what propels us to show up and work hard.
Silver went into this band with the knowledge that music was what made her feel good, not expecting Josie to be recording their first EP just four months later.
“I’m just gonna ride with it where it goes,” Silver said. “But we’ve had so much fun and … we’ve made some really special music that I feel really proud of.”