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Bayonne Takes 'Drastic Measures' to Stay Calm During Chaos

Roger Sellers explores emotional loops and more with Bayonne's newest release, "Drastic Measures"

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    Courtesy of Mom + Pop Music
    Bayonne headlines Casbah on Thursday, May 9.

    "There's something that comes over you when something crazy happens; there's something calming about it," Roger Sellers told me over the phone in April, explaining how he copes with potential catastrophe in solo performance.  

    "There's been so many weird situations. Usually, I've been pretty good at saving it or salvaging it. A lot of times, I'll just make a bunch of noise.... It's happened twice: Everything just stopped," he said.

    For his solo productions, Sellers records under Bayonne, an amalgam of electronic and organic fused to cinematic grandiosity, meditative simplicity, and a pop sensibility. From start to finish, recorded to performed, Sellers determines the particular alloy.

    "When it comes to Bayonne, it's mostly just me. At the end of the day, I'm the one sitting with the headphones on for the bulk of the process. Writing is always by myself. It's just how it happens naturally.... I'm kind of a control freak in a way. It's hard to collaborate with people," Sellers said.

    With the help of technology, he collaborates with himself -- looping parts, layering, overdubbing, adjusting, staying calm during unpredictable circumstances.

    Sellers recently moved out of the house he and his girlfriend were living in in Austin to spend more time with his family in Houston, Texas, which is where his first loops began. 

    "My sister started playing the piano, and I started mimicking what she was doing. My dad was really into music, and it went from like one obsession to another. I got into Phil Collins when I was like 5.... I was trying to mimic all of these musicians and rockstars," Sellers said.

    Loops, for Sellers, are of particular emotional significance, like a memory that won't go away, like a memory that won't stop repeating. 

    "I had this piano loop for a long time, and I was fascinated by it. It was a very emotional loop for me. There was this girl that I knew in New York for a while, and during a time of heavy touring, I was able to see her every once in a while. We were living very far apart from each other, so it was a really hard time and a hard relationship. She made me this mixtape/playlist and she called it 'Abilia's Memoirs' -- like 'memorabilia,'" Sellers explained. 

    Bayonne released a lyric video for "Abilia" in April following his sophomore Mom + Pop Music LP drop, "Drastic Measures."

    "Basically the whole reason for it [the title 'Drastic Measures'], well, that song in particular, it's kind of the crazy ups and downs, the drastic measures you take to maintain this career.... You start to question why you're doing it, then you get back on the road, and you realize how great of a thing it is. It's really weird, really hard to get used to, because it's so chaotic. Getting back home and re-acclimating can be pretty hard. Home becomes an illusion after a while, as you start to lose contact with a lot of your friends and your community back home -- that's been the hardest thing for me. It takes the biggest toll on your friends and family and relationships," Sellers said.

    "You kind of have to learn how to treat yourself and take yourself -- staying hydrated and stretching as much as you can. I've worked a lot harder at keeping in touch with people," he added.

    Among the few ways to stay calm during chaos, Sellers has settled on two: Make a lot of noise, or just let everything stop. 

    Bayonne headlines Casbah on Thursday, May 9. Get tickets here.

    Rutger Ansley Rosenborg has been with NBC SoundDiego since 2016. Find out more here.