Music » Music Stories & Interviews

14 local artists who are reshaping the Orlando music scene

by and


Page 3 of 4


Sean Shakespeare

Of all the young new MCs in the Second Subject crew – the local label and collective overseen by Solillaquists of Sound's Swamburger – Sean Shakespeare is the brightest and readiest. He's known as a member of hip-hop triad Table for Three alongside notable rappers TKO and Jamar X, but his new solo work is his most focused. His collaboration with the battle-tested Swamburger has produced some standout sounds that are a modern reboot of the kind of literate and technical rap that is hip-hop in its most elevated state. With that partnership, Shakespeare has a new 11-track album (Bloodline) in the can and slated for release before the end of the year. From what he's been showing on stage, it's got all the ingredients of a distinctive new voice ready to assert itself. And in addition to a short tour with Carnage the Executioner in January, that voice can be heard next at the Second Subject Sunday Sampler on Dec. 10 at Mills Avenue wax den Remix Records. – BLH

  • Photo by Andreas Volmer

Alterity Chamber Orchestra

Alterity Orchestra are a real-time exercise in sonic exploration the likes of which has never been attempted in Orlando's creative music/avant-garde circles. To wit, a group of promising and adventurously-minded classical musicians are being steadily put through their paces onstage with tutelage from high-shelf practitioners of the avant arts like Chris Belt and Thad Anderson, with a musical brief squarely focused on the works of contemporary classical composers. And the experiment is bearing spectacular sonic fruit – Alterity's ensemble performance of Quartet for the End of Time at the Timucua White House was like a sonic séance (in all the best ways), and the October debut of the full, 15-piece Orchestra at Factur playing the works of John Adams and Julius Eastman dazzled attendees. What's next? Expect the unexpected. – MM

  • Photo by Vikka Perez Puelles


Synthwave is in full renaissance right now and probably the best – certainly the most textbook – example of the genre in Orlando is Troy Simpson's Moondragon. Like our own resident Jan Hammer, he's fast become the go-to opener when notable national names like Perturbator and Gost roll through town. But his commitment to the neon age of the '80s goes beyond just action-sequence synthesizers. With perfectly curated and edited vintage video that's an equal part of his live show, a Moondragon concert is pure time travel. His latest album, Grand Prix, released in September, is a total retro adventure that's a sonic narrative to the history of Formula One racing. All it would take for this synth crusader to write the next score for Stranger Things is one dark turn. – BLH

  • Photo by Jim Leatherman

Ray Brazen

Lo-fi troubadour Ray Brazen is an underground lifer and true believer, a welcome reminder that you can reach a certain age in your musical life and keep pushing forward, instead of retreating to the comfy confines of a fedora and some righteous Clapton covers. Part of a lineage of eccentric home recording going back to Syd Barrett and filtering through Daniel Johnston and Sebadoh, Brazen was bitten by the creative freedoms of the lo-fi revolution in New York in the late '80s, where spontaneity was the only rule. Brazen relocated to Central Florida in 2004, and continued cranking out records – including a heartfelt paean to local newscaster Wendy Chioji. Brazen has, of late, found kindred spirits in the Illuminated Paths collective, who have reissued a sprawling sampler of earlier works and provide the encouragement for him to continue to let his freak flag fly proudly. His methods are refreshingly the same: Bash songs out on a fuzzed-out electric guitar, record the results, and release them on hand-dubbed tapes. For Brazen, "get weird" is more of a sacred commandment than a glib, normie catchphrase. – MM

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.