Big Brains

Ichi Sound: 2015 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Music

You submitted nominations for the best and brightest emerging Valley creatives, and the results are in. Presenting the 2015 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the announcement of winners at Artopia on May 9, Jackalope Ranch, Chow Bella, and Up on the Sun will introduce the finalists. Up today is Ichi Sound.

When you think chillwave music, the images that come to mind are likely of the soothing variety -- a stiff martini at a glitzy cocktail lounge, a steamy spa in a remote locale, or simply a book by the pool. But Ichi Sound, Phoenix purveyors of this particular brand of electronica, draws performance inspiration from unusual and decidedly unmellow sources.

"Professional wrestling," says 25-year-old David Story, Ichi Sound's singer, who applies a generous amount of face paint before shows. "About two songs in I'll wipe my face and it just looks wild.

"It's all for the spectacle. I want people to remember that one weird day."

See also: Announcing the 2015 Big Brain Finalists

"[Performing] is just like pro wrestling," says 26-year-old Brandon Hibbard, who makes the music for the duo. "It's all about making the crowd happy."

In just two years, Ichi Sound has catapulted to the top of a genre that doesn't get much local attention. The duo has played Crescent Ballroom, warehouse parties, and various dive bars and released an EP and a single.

The seeds for Ichi Sound were sown when Hibbard moved to the 10,000-person town of Safford to attend college. He didn't have any friends, so he started just listening to a bunch of music. The genre that stuck was chillwave, and he eventually got a copy of computer composition software Ableton and began making music of his own. Years later, he would re-connect with Story, a fellow Shadow Mountain High School grad. The two had made music (sort of) while in high school.

"That was a typical hangout session with our friends. We'd sit around and come up with these almost commercial-style jingles," Story recalls.

When the two got together, Hibbard asked Story to sing on some of his songs. It wasn't long before the two were performing together full time. At first, they'd play shows with bands outside their genres, such as with stoner rapper extraordinaire Hot Rock SupaJoint and folk-punker Andy Warpigs.

"It just felt right playing with punk bands," Story says.

Since the early days, Ichi Sound has started playing with fellow electronic artists. They say that the chillwave scene is Phoenix is still burgeoning and that there are many talented electronic artists going unnoticed. Hibbard rattles off an impressively beefy list of his chillwave/electronica peers -- including artists like Secret Attraction, Jock Club, Dressed to Kill, and more -- and says that they hope the scene grows with their music.

For now, Ichi Sound is looking forward to more classic shows and feeling thankful for what both members call their favorite moment so far, when the duo opened for Saint Pepsi at Crescent last November.

"That's when we were like, 'Sweet, dude. We're cool cats now!'" Story recalls.

The 2015 Big Brain Award winners will be announced on Saturday, May 9, during New Times' Artopia, an evening of food, drink, art, and music at Monarch Theatre. For details and tickets, $25, visit

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David Accomazzo is a music wrangler, award-winning reporter, critic, and editor with more than a decade in the business.
Contact: David Accomazzo