They’ve been named one of Miami’s best electronic music acts, growing an audience over the past three years that has taken Eons from free shows to performing at Ultra. Their new EP, Serene Machine, is smooth and otherworldly, with throwback hints to Depeche Mode and New Order with a bit of a modern Com Truise vibe.
Though Eons may be relatively new, Johnny Deezal and Mathew Gossman have been making music for a long time. We sat down with Deezal to talk about his evolution from alternative rocker to electronic artist, why lugging around instruments is so hard, and how living in New York inspired him to start a new band back home in Miami.
When did you start making music in Miami?
I’ve been involved in the Miami music scene since I was 17 years old. I was born and raised in New York, and moved here when I was 13, so I didn’t quite get into music at that age. I think my sophomore year in high school I started playing guitar, taking guitar lessons, and all through high school I had a band called Deezal, hence my nickname. It was a three piece alternative rock band. Then I had some projects after that, even some trance and house. That’s when I started to dive more into electronic music, after I went to school for audio engineering at SAE.
How did Eons begin?
I moved back to New York about three years ago just to check out the music scene and dive into the pool of music, and I just wanted to get away a bit. I learned a lot up there. Saw all of the talented people. You’d see somebody who could be the next Christina Aguilera working at a pizza place, and wherever she went she’d take her CDs. I had nothing but an acoustic guitar, going up there with no idea what I was doing. But while I was there, I started writing some songs on the computer, electronic songs. I was moving around from sublet to sublet, taking my home studio set up with me. So when I moved back to Miami, I had some idea about the songs and I knew I wanted to start a band. I knew Matt from Life of Seals, which I really liked, and then they disbanded, so I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna scoop him up now! Perfect.”
At first, Matt was playing drums live to the songs I was working on. Then, he progressed into more of a co-producer with me, and now we’ve got this new EP out that we’ve been working on. We’ve played Ultra and we’ve opened for all sorts of national acts, like Capital Cities, Brazilian Girls, and Holy Ghost.
The album feels like lush, galactic synth pop, with a lot of R&B connotations, and a slick, Miami, almost Chromeo vibe. It’s galactic, because we’re very into astronomy and planets. We’ve always incorporated that into our songs, especially our first EP. With this one, we tried to take that cosmos feel and blend it with more relatable lyrics.
How do you compare being in an alternative rock band to making electronic music?
It’s definitely a vast difference. I do kind of miss the days when we could just plug in and not even care if our guitar was tuned and just start playing. Where in the first 3 minutes of stepping into a room you know you’re going to hear something, no matter what. It’s definitely different in that way, where now if one USB cable goes down I’m completely screwed. I guess my tastes also changed from that time. I’m not listening to Weezer anymore, or The Offspring.
What was it like plugging yourself into a different side of the music scene than you were used to?
The city definitely instilled in me how to grow musically. It’s pretty apparent that Miami in the past 15 years or so has been pretty electronically dominated, and that has absolutely influenced me. Maybe if I grew up or lived in Chicago, I’d still be playing rock music? I’m not really sure. But maybe it was meant to be. Being here, it just felt like a natural shift. I mean, if I was in Italy, maybe I’d be an Italian folk singer. But geographically, wherever you are, it has an effect.
It’s like palm trees and neon lights down here, and that kind of just absorbs into our sound. And we were influenced by local artists like Afrobeta, who mixed and mastered our latest EP, and MillionYoung. I guess the most important part, really, is to stick it out. There have definitely been times where’s I’ve thought, Should I just stop and give up? But I was plagued with the need to have an outlet for music. Sometimes Miami doesn’t seem like an Austin or New York or LA, but it has these incredible waves where suddenly it seems like the music scene picks up and goes somewhere new.