Artists Say Original Music in Anchorage Experiencing a Renaissance
From DJs to bands, Alaska-based musicians making careers of art
ANCHORAGE - Bass bumps through the house and the soft sound of scratching fills the room as Colin Bonfield plays music.
He’s completely in his element as a Clint Samples original comes through the speakers.
Clint Samples and Bonfield are one and the same. The artist, 28, has been playing tunes for 12 years.
Tucked away in a Midtown house is his workshop. It’s filled with records, a microphone, speakers, turntables and the most important item – a laptop.
“I am turning up volume on the second track and slowly cutting out bass frequencies from the first track.”
His latest song is still a work in progress.
“Where the song started was in Hawaii,” said Bonfield, as the music played in the background. “I was on vacation. I could hear all these birds all night – just wings all night long.” He added he was inspired by the noises of the people quietly chattering over the sounds of the rainforest.
Bonfield said music in Anchorage hasn’t been this good since the 1990s.
“You can tell when you kind of switch something up, and go to another sound, or energy level, or you speed up the tempo. You can see people dancing harder, shouting [and] giving you a little fist pump,” said Bonfield, smiling and dancing subtly behind the equipment.
And he’s not the only artist feeling that vibe.
“What I have seen change a lot lately is the idea that you might be able to do it without leaving,” said Martin Severin, a partner at Monolith Agency. “You can probably try and establish some sort of career being based out of Alaska.”
Severin moved to Alaska from New York City in 1999. A musician himself, he was surprised by the talent pool.
These days he works to bring outsiders to Alaska, but he said that’s not because Alaskans can’t keep up.
“Some of the best musicians I have ever known or played with are here,” said Severin. “We have a disproportionate amount of world class talent here.”
Darrin Huycke makes a living off of local talent. He books them at different venues around Anchorage.
“They are super talented and they practice and there is a lot of them that take it serious,” said Huycke, standing in the heart of the Avenue – the dance floor. “And then you get to put them on the stage and it’s the biggest stage for them.”
He said for many Alaskans the small stage is the first step in fulfilling big dreams.
“If you connect with a musician while they are performing, go say something to them,” said Huycke. “These guys and girls really love what they’re doing.”
Even though Bonfield’s been mixing for more than a decade he said there are still things to learn.
“The hardest thing to learn is how to feel out what the crowd is really vibing off of. I think that’s kind of the last thing you learn really. Mixing, the technical skill of mixing is counting, it’s being on beat, it’s a little simpler than people think it is.”
In the end, Clint Samples said it’s all worth it.
“I was playing a festival last summer and I was watching the sun come over the mountain sides,” said Bonfield. “It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.”