InFocus: Audio Artistry — Vela

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Students showcase their musical projects

By Jessica Skaggs

Local musicians Jonas Birkel (guitar and vocals) and Sean Cedillo (drums) perform in their band called, Vela, which the two started in 2010 while in high school. Prior to being in their own band, they played together in their high school jazz band.

“I really liked how Sean played because it was different than the other drummers, very fluid and melodic,” Birkel, student, said. “Sophomore year I was looking for a new project and he had nothing to do so we started jamming and we came across liking a lot of different styles — Latin, Rock and such. So we started trying to get a band together, brought in people and started making songs and making those songs a really nice piece of crafted work.”

They got their start performing in a club called Intentions, playing every week for about a year. However, since the club was bought out, they’ve become a two-man show and have been able to perform throughout the Kansas City area and elsewhere across the Midwest.

“We’ve just stripped it down to a two-piece,” he said. “There isn’t anyone else in the band because we like that raw sound. There’s just something about that, that we’re attracted to, it’s just right there on the table […] and we don’t have any help from computers or technology.”

For Birkel, he hopes Vela is never on iTunes, as they strive to make their albums complete pieces of work.

“We don’t ever want to be on iTunes because I don’t think it’s worth it,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with it, but I want people to buy our music in a body of work, not just individual songs.”

The inspiration for their art comes from various places, whether it be different music styles, the riff of a guitar to everyday experiences.

“I just like writing, and I think that has a lot to do with it […] being connected to art and sound and the stories behind it,” Birkel said. “Past relationships are another inspiration, although I’m not going to pull a Taylor Swift or anything anytime soon, but I mean just relationships and experiences can and do inspire.”

The main focus behind Vela is to remain unique, avoid the mainstream tendencies of local budding artists and to remain true to their style.

“If we get 15 people to a show and they like our music and they’re enthusiastic then that’s cool,” he said. “I’d rather have that than 30 people who are indifferent. I’d rather have people involved in our music than just playing to the masses.”

Vela’s next performance is on March 6 at Barleycorn’s in Wichita.

Listen to Vela: reverbnation.com/vela1 

Article by Jessica Skaggs, managing editor, jskaggs4@jccc.edu.

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