Photo Credit: Maya Wald
Bernardo Ochoa is the coolest player in the Brooklyn music scene and I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard of him. Simultaneously in five bands, the NYU alum has slowly been putting together a solid following. Every band has its own flavor and dynamic but most importantly, they’re all good.
Despite being tied up by five distinct musical acts, Ochoa manages his time with extreme efficiency. His recipe for success is simple. “Whatever I’m doing, if I’m there, I make that my main focus” he says and it’s hard to argue with the results. Here’s a rundown of what he’s been up to:
Panther Hollow is the closest thing Ochoa has to a solo project. The band’s debut EP is an eclectic palette of indie rock. From the suppressed anger and grunge-tinted resentment of “Office” to the bubbly, acoustic love song “Jamie”, People Synesthesia is a kaleidoscopic portrait of Ochoa’s diverse musical influences. According to him, the EP is mix of older songs that didn’t quite fit with any of his other acts. Despite being the principal songwriter and frontman, Ochoa would “rather let the music speak for itself” than be identified as such, stating “I want it to be more about the band and the music than about me.” While there is no official date for Panther Hollow’s next release, Ochoa informed me that the band’s second EP is slated for a fall 2017 release. Listen below.
Modern Diet is undoubtedly Ochoa’s most popular venture. The band– lead by frontman Jake Cheriff– has been regularly playing around NYC and Brooklyn since their formation in 2013 at NYU. Since he’s the guitar player, it’s easy to pick out Ochoa’s contributions but he’s insistent that “this is Jake’s project” and seems completely content to suppress his ego for the benefit of Cheriff’s vision. This is a recipe that’s produced some fantastic tunes over the past couple years. From Echo Parade to Riptide, Modern Diet seems incapable of making bad music. Everything comes out gold. According to Ochoa, the band has been hard at work on a new album since 2015. He’s optimistic that it’ll be finished by spring 2018 but there is no definite time table for its release. Listen to their most recent track “Red Eye” below.
When I asked him which band most excited him, Ochoa responded enthusiastically with “Ackerman”. Following the release of their most recent album, The Orion Pact, Ackerman went on a self-booked tour around the Northeast that culminated in them playing an after-party for My Morning Jacket. Ackerman’s music is swirling and magnetic but ultimately hard to describe. They’ve managed to create something that’s all their own. The Orion Pact, released in May, is a bizarre electronic journey, a collage painted with unfamiliar sounds and reverberations. Embrace the strangeness. Listen below.
Daisy the Great is a 7-piece indie-pop outfit with two lead singers. Their style is vocally driven minimalism coupled with quirky lyrics and diverse song structure. Rich, layered harmonies drive their music and give them a unique sound. While Ochoa takes more of a backseat on this project–it’s primarily driven by the two front women Kelley Dugan and Mina Walker– his bass lines are invariably his and add a special flavor to their work. Listen below.
Having just released their debut single earlier this year, it’s difficult to say what Strange Loops’ definitive style will be but at the moment, they’re sitting at the crossroads of indie-rock and disco. Diner Song is a whizz of electric guitars coupled with a strong, danceable rhythm that leaves plenty of room to get lost in. Frontwoman Sophie Kapur’s powerful vocals glide across the top of the track and tether the whole piece together. Strange Loops is yet another example of Ochoa quietly lending his hand to a group of supremely talented musicians. Listen Below.