Synth-funk band Outer Ego was formed only a year ago, but it already has a single on Spotify, local Columbia gigs under its belt and a close bond between its five band members.
The band started out as a collaboration between guitarist Trey Martin, synth-player Michael Gutshall and bassist Smith Austin. Adam Lewis became the drummer in December 2019, and singer Katie Gandy joined the group in February 2020.
Martin, a fourth-year broadcast journalism student, described Outer Ego’s music style as “synth-funk," a funky rhythm with an electronic sound.
European groups, such as Parcels, and artists, such as Tame Impala, influenced the group’s own music style. Austin said the group’s style is "not super polished." Outer Ego released its self-produced first single, “MusicOnMyMind,” in October.
“We want to be a band that kind of has a huge collaboration with the whole musical process,” Austin said.
Creative artists who have influenced the group, such as Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, have a similar hands-on role in their music production, a creative process that Gutshall said is “really exciting."
So far, Outer Ego has performed outdoors locally at places such as Twisted Spur Brewing.
“We have pretty much an album’s worth of original music that we perform every gig,” Martin said.
The band also throws covers into its performances, which Martin said is fun because they "put [their] own spin on things.”
Although COVID-19 has thrown hurdles at the entertainment industry, it has also made room for creativity.
“I think a lot of people are having to rewrite the playbook,” Martin said. “And that has left a lot of opportunity.”
In the future, Outer Ego wants to reach beyond the Columbia area, but, according to Lewis, it is focusing its efforts locally for now. The band also plans on spending some time in the studio to work on more releases soon.
”We've just been trying to expand our influence around the Columbia local scene right now, and then see where that goes," Lewis, a fourth-year biology student, said.
Austin said while the band is in its early stage, he is excited to see what the future holds.
The band’s main objective is to keep the fun going. Martin said making it big would be amazing, but he's a musician first and foremost because he enjoys it.
“I do think we do have a lot of potential because I feel like every week we practice and we’re becoming a lot closer as friends,” Austin said. “We have a lot of cool chemistry.”
Gutshall said he hopes that, in the future, "when someone thinks of South Carolina music, they think of Outer Ego."
Outer Ego is performing at Twisted Spur Brewing on Nov. 20 and at Market on Main on Dec. 10.
Editor's note: Trey Martin is a member of WUSC, which is part of Garnet Media Group.