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Sonic Reducers: Behind the Scenes of Cornell’s Newest Punk Band

Written by Luke Slomba

It all started in September 2018 when I met my friend Ayta, an international student from Russia who shared my major. After figuring out that we both played guitar, we decided to jam at JAM (Just About Music), the music program house on north campus. We spent a bit laying down some ideas that never really went anywhere, but when Ayta had the idea to try putting together a rock cover of a Russian synth-punk song called “Supermarket,” all of a sudden everything clicked.

We recognized that our music had a distinctly off-kilter, melodic punk sound, and we wanted to make something more of it. Ayta knew someone who played drums, and I convinced my roommate Sebastian to learn bass over Winter break. Just like that, Sonic Reducers was formed.

"we all brought different musical influences to the table."

The four of us came from completely different parts of the world, so we all brought different musical influences to the table. Ayta knew loads of hot new Russian artists that were virtually unheard of in the US, and she had taken a punk class in the music department the past semester which exposed her to even more bangers. I was tapped into the DIY music scene from playing in my high school indie band, and I had picked up skills in playing some wack instruments like accordion and trombone in the process. Meanwhile, Sebastian spent his high school days making trap beats in Atlanta, which gave him some essential production skills and led to certain “interesting” musical approaches that I never would’ve thought of, like writing bass parts in MIDI with Logic Pro and then learning how to play them afterwards instead of just writing them on the bass.

Our drummer, Jackson, had an archive of self-described “emo reggae” songs he wrote for his band in Arizona, Cross Eyed Possum. Our various influences were unified under the punk banner—a beautiful aspect of the genre; despite our musical differences, we all had the same ethos and attitude about what we were making, which allowed us to take our sounds and put them together in a way that sounded pretty sweet. The process took significant time and effort though, and our new album ended up being released two months after we originally planned.

Due to our living situation in freshman housing, we had to get creative with our recording process. Equipment was shared, which equaled competition with several other student bands clamoring for access to microphones and practice space. The recording process involved all sorts of shenanigans, including converting my triple into a recording studio—bringing a full mic setup into the already cramped room to record guitar and vocals. We also re-recorded a forgotten 50-second song I wrote three years ago after Sebastian heard the original and knew it had to be on the album (“Cool Hair”).

"after all was said and done, we found ourselves with 9 complete tracks"

Finally, there was the marathon mixing session the night of the release in which we stayed up until 4AM to make sure everything sounded alright (after listening to the entire new Vampire Weekend album that had dropped the same night). But after all was said and done, we found ourselves with 9 complete tracks, which seemed like a miracle given the scattered process recording music over weekends and between classes. College responsibilities made recording Sonic Reducers a lot harder, but college also brought us together to make our very existence as a band possible. A year ago, I would’ve never thought I’d be the one to start a punk band at Cornell, but I’m glad I did.

Sonic Reducers’ self-titled debut is out now on Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp. Listen to the whole thing here.

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