During freshman orientation last year, Nicholas Kohombon ’17 and Adriano Rozenthal ’17 were playing Muse in Kohombon’s room in Noyes when Jackson Dammann ’17 walked by and couldn’t help but come in. One year later, Kohombon, Rozenthal and Dammann, with the addition of Noah Risman ’17, now play together as Y2K, thanks to that one fateful evening.
Its members are now all sophomores, but Y2K is a product of the spontaneity and openness synonymous with the freshman experience. “We were known as the freshman band last year, which was a funny experience,” said guitarist and vocalist Kohombon. “We posted ‘Looking for a bassist’ on the Admitted Students Facebook group a little bit after that [night in Noyes], and that’s how we found our bassist, Noah. Since then we’ve gotten to know each other, our musical tastes and musical talents better. I usually do the lead vocals but Adriano and Noah like to sing, so we usually just switch off on the mic.”
While freshman orientation can easily become little more than a distant memory and fall to the wayside as the school year progresses, Y2K continued to churn out music throughout the 2013-2014 school year, during the summer and, now, into their sophomore years. Y2K has a couple of gigs booked and are in final stages of putting together their EP.
While many bands, such as Muse, have a signature sound, Y2K prides itself on its versatility of sound. Risman, the group’s bassist and vocalist, wrote in an email, “I would describe our sound very vaguely as alternative rock. The reason I’m so vague is that every member of the band has taken on some share of the songwriting burden, so no one person’s style describes the entirety of our sound. As a whole, though, one could describe our music as bold—we all try to push our songwriting choices to extremes.”
That being said, Y2K intends to defy genre and deny categorization: For their upcoming performance at this week’s Late Night at the Loeb, the group will experiment with their sound in order to adapt to the calm environment of the art center. “Preparing for the show at the Loeb has been interesting because, due to the largely acoustic setup, we’ve had to make adjustments to our songs to fit the mood of an acoustic guitar. This has led to some really cool ideas, including implementation of violin in a few songs (which is sounding awesome). I’m excited to try it out live,” Risman stated.
For the show at the Loeb, Y2K will be debuting songs from the EP they worked on this past summer. Titled “Outside the Silence,” the EP is comprised of four songs the group worked on during their freshman year. Although the EP has not yet been released, the group is currently in the finishing stages of production and intends to make their debut compilation available to fans through their Facebook page within the next month.
In addition to performing songs from “Outside the Silence,” the group will premiere a few original songs that did not make it onto their EP as well as covers of hits like Radiohead that promises to work well with both the lax environment of the Loeb and Y2K’s aesthetic. The show at the Loeb, though challenging, encourages the group to push through their comfort level and reach unchartered territory in their music. “They asked us if we would be willing to play an acoustic show, which is something we haven’t done before. We’ve been reworking a lot of the songs we wrote for the EP and songs we’ve been writing since to be played in an acoustic way without electric guitar or distortion,” Kohombon said. “It’s really brought out a lot more emotion in some of what we’ve written. Definitely the earliest songs we wrote can feel sort of sterile in terms of lyrics, but I think taking it back and stripping it into the acoustic territory has really opened it up on some level.”
Beyond their performance at the Loeb, the group is set to play at ‘Noyes Under the Sky’ this Friday evening. The group has many performances lined up as of now, but being a student-based band has not proved itself to be so easy. “The music scene right now is probably geared towards established groups, such as the orchestra and a capella,” Rozenthal, Y2K’s keyboard player, said. “However, interest in student bands is definitely growing. We always try to promote ourselves, and being a relatively new band, it is nice to know that we get more well-known every show.”
Y2K is just one facet of Vassar’s rich and diverse music scene. It can be hard at times, however, for these bands to find success. While other Y2K members echo Rozenthal’s opinion of the student music scene, there does seem to be some progress: percussionist Dammann said, “Historically, Vassar has unfortunately shown little interest in student rock groups, but lately that’s been changing. Both a new practice space for student bands and a recording studio are in the works, and although we’re one of the few rock groups on campus, there’s still a solid lineup of student bands (jazz, punk, folk, etc.). While the music department still largely favors classical music, the orchestra, individual performers, etc., they’ve shown more interests lately, and most of the student bands know each other—it’s a nice atmosphere.” Hopefully the campus atmosphere will continue to encourage students to create their own bands and find success.