Some of the best music created in Bend may never reach your ears. While a wealth of artists share their songs on local stages, some beats remain secret—private to the musician or only shared digitally for musical Sherlock Holmes types to discover. Byron Milligan, a transplant from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., creates secret music in his loft near downtown.
"When I started having an interest in electronic music, I created it with software on my computer," says Milligan. "I eventually got a MIDI controller to control that software. I'm drawn to hardware synthesizers and drum machines for the ease of access of different controls and the hands-on playing. I'm able to manipulate sound better."
Milligan has always loved music. He started pounding the ivories on his grandparent's keyboard at a young age. For his 16th birthday, Milligan bought himself a bass guitar so he could start playing music with friends. No one else played bass, so it seemed like the right place to start.
"I've always been a fan of listening to music, so I wanted to see how it was created," says Milligan. "I've just always been drawn to musi, so it seemed like the natural progression to start playing music."
Milligan played his first live show with his band Came Crashing, an indie rock outfit with a pop-punk bent, at a local venue in Wilkes-Barre called Cafe Metropolis. He recalls playing for a year and a half before their first show.
"I was very uncomfortable the first couple shows. I was standing with my back facing the crowd because I was so nervous."
Now, Milligan creates mostly instrumental electronic music. With an interest in hardware synthesizers and drum machines, he takes a more analog approach to his music.
"I guess in a way, I'm more drawn to analog because it's basically manipulating electricity. You take a signal and design sounds from it using different components."
If you want to hear the sounds Milligan has been working on, you either have to be his friend on Instagram or seek him out on BandCamp. Milligan uses Instagram to post one-minute video clips of his music. Some of the videos only show a synthesizer and his hands; others feature waves and jellyfish with his ambient beats overlaid. The platform gives him the opportunity to share his art with friends and family and test his jams before completing them and sharing them on BandCamp.
"It's easier to create electronic music on your own rather than playing multiple instruments," says Milligan. "I just kind of get an idea, sit down at my desk and gear and see what happens."
Some secret musicians create their music for personal expression and those songs may never hit the ears of anyone else. In Milligan's case, meeting the right collaborators could lead to Bend's newest electronic band.
"I have a few full songs completed from the last year. I would like to put an album out by the fall for free on BandCamp," says Milligan. "I would like to play live, but want do it with a band. I would have to find people with similar interests and teach them the songs or write together and collaborate."