Section: Arts

Roommates collaborate on new music project the 117s

Roommates collaborate on new music project the 117s

Sophomores Zack Eydenberg and Nick Navari grace the cover of their first EP, Inside Out.

Walk the Moon has “Anna Sun” and “Shut Up and Dance.” Sports has “Saturday,” which NPR featured on “All Songs Considered” this summer.

College band success stories are few and far between, but that doesn’t stop new groups from forming every year. Up-and-coming duo the 117s is just one of many groups, including Park Strangers, Trix and the Kids and Rich After Taxes, to hit the Kenyon music scene recently.

Many Kenyon bands have similar origin stories while on the Hill; band members Zack Eydenberg ’18 and Nick Navari ’18 exemplify and describe their journey.

Navari, a pianist since age four, wandered from classical music to rock and pop, which fit his style better, he said. By high school he had played everything he could get his hands on, from guitar to the melodica. Eydenberg, a Kokosinger and mostly self-taught musician, started piano in fourth grade and learned guitar by high school. Singing came naturally to both of them in their musical development.

“Always being around music, you have to sing along, right?” Navari said.

The two named their group after Lewis 117, the room they shared as first-year roommates. They remain roommates in Caples, while also being bandmates and friends.

The 117s have a gentle, jazzy tone that teasingly leans toward a few different genres, as indicated by their three songs on the online music platform Bandcamp. Navari and Eydenberg are still testing the waters, experimenting with indie-style lyricism and low-key rock like that of Ben Folds. Although the group hasn’t perfected their sound , Navari and Eydenberg certainly don’t slack in producing new content.

The pair take no time at all to compose new material. “The first time we played, we were like, ‘OK we’re gonna do this,’” Navari said. “We came up with a melody together. [Eydenberg] said, ‘OK, I’ll be back,’ and he left for 10 minutes and he came back with three verses and the refrain and the whole thing.” Eydenberg writes 10 to 15 songs per month.

The pair co-wrote one song, “Wishful Thinking,” in about 10 minutes. Once Navari began playing around with chords, Eydenberg took off with the lyrics. “To explain anything to someone else … you have to actually do it … to show them, and then they can work on what actually exists,” Eydenberg said. “If you’re just working on your own, you could … run through a bunch of ideas that don’t happen.”

The 117s hope to release their album 4 AM Philosophy and hold a concert at the Horn Gallery this academic year.

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