Austin-based musician Bayonne talks name change, realities of local music scene

Katie Walsh

Local electronic solo act Bayonne wants one thing to be clear: he is not a DJ. He is also no longer a folk artist. The man behind Bayonne, Roger Sellers, recently re-branded his folk sound into a more electronic act and isn’t looking back. Before his show at Austin City Limits Music Festival, he spoke to The Daily Texan about his recent name change, the local music scene and what he’s listening to right now. 

The Daily Texan: You used to perform under your real name, Rogers Sellers, as a folk artist, but now you perform as Bayonne with a much more electronic sound. What prompted the change?

Roger Sellers: When I was in college, I started doing more electronic sets, without a band, using loopers and stuff. I was playing those folk shows at the same time, so it was kind of confusing to the audience and myself — doing two completely different styles. I was doing both simultaneously. But I feel like it all came from the same place. The music I was listening to at the time had elements of both, music and folk instrumentation. So it never felt like a huge difference. It’s more in the way that I perform it, the way that it is executed, rather than where it comes from creatively.

DT: Why did the more electronic side prevail?

RS: I think because it’s more fun to perform. It does better frankly. It’s a better show for myself and the audience. 

DT: Where did the Bayonne name come from?

RS: It came from the street that I grew up on in Houston. I still visit there, my piano is still there, my parents still live there. I’ve done a lot of recordings in that house. A lot of Primitives was done in that house so it felt right. 

DT: It’s not easy to pursue music as a full-time musician in Austin despite its reputation as being the “Live Music Capital of the World,” but you managed to do so. What is your take on the local music scene here? 

RS: I think a lot of it, not just Austin but anywhere, is luck and perseverance. It’s very difficult to make money in Austin as a musician because there are so many musicians and so many people move here — really, really talented creative people. There is not much industry down here. 

When I first started out in Austin, I wasn’t making any money — no money. I would be happy if I got a slice of pizza or something from the promoter. So it’s definitely difficult, but Austin was the only place I was playing so I didn’t have a reference of anywhere else. 

DT: What is your favorite song to perform?

RS:  It depends on the night and how I feel, but I would say in general it’s the song I close with, “Omar.”

DT: Who are you listening to right now? 

RS: I have been listening to Pure Bathing Culture from Portland a lot recently. Also, Wye Oak. They are one of my favorite bands. And this band, the Raveonettes. 

DT: When you were a student at Texas State did you have any idea that you would be pursuing music full time in the future?

RS: I think I would have been really stoked. I feel like, creatively, I had a lot of confidence, but I didn’t think that I would be able to do it full-time. I kind of figured I would be working at a sub shop or as a producer or something. 

Catch Bayonne perform at Austin City Limits Music Festival on Friday Sept. 30 at 11:30 a.m. before he takes off on his European tour.