Sketchy Walrus serenades JC and beyond

Junior+Conrad+Gagnon++performs+at+Dangerously+Delicious%2C+a+bakery+and+restaurant+in+Baltimore%2C+MD%2C+in+August+2014.+Sketchy+Walrus+played+several+original+songs+at+the+venue.

Junior Conrad Gagnon performs at Dangerously Delicious, a bakery and restaurant in Baltimore, MD, in August 2014. Sketchy Walrus played several original songs at the venue.

Billy Jump, In-Depth Editor

The lights of the stage beat down on junior Conrad Gagnon’s face. To his left, junior Lilly Stannard gets ready to sing vocals. To his right, Calvert Hall senior Josh Miller tunes his guitar and helps Gagnon get ready for the performance.

Sketchy Walrus, made of Gagnon, Stannard, and Miller, is about to take the stage. At first, the butterflies in the pit of Gagnon’s stomach take him over, and he gulps nervously before he and Miller begin playing.

As the band gets into it, the audience begins to disappear, and the only thing on the band members’ minds is the sound. To Sketchy Walrus, it’s all about the music.

“When I first get on stage, I get so nervous I feel like I could vomit,” Gagnon said. “But once that leaves, it becomes just me and the music.”

Sketchy Walrus first started when the Baltimore Marathon advertised its need for a band to perform at the event in 2012.

“Josh was my friend in middle school, and we both decided to come together to sing at it,” Gagnon said.

The two musicians then asked Matthew Wagner, class of ‘14, to join and play bass. Then, Stannard joined.

“I was asked to sing with the band to provide harmonies,” Stannard said. “But then I was invited to all the practices and I started performing with them.”

Since then, the band has played for “restaurants, basement shows, open mic nights, all over the place,” Gagnon said.

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Junior Lilly Stannard performs vocals alongside Gagnon at Dangerously Delicious in August 2014.

After Wagner left for college, the band had to “just keep going on,” Gagnon said. “In some way, Matt’s leaving made things easier for us, since there were less people to work our schedules around, but we still don’t have anyone to play bass for us.”

The style of Sketchy Walrus is not easily categorized into a single genre. Its style overlaps into different aspects of various genres. “I’d say we’re psychedelic folk or dreampop,” Gagnon said.

According to Stannard, the band is also “indie or punk rock.”

The members of Sketchy Walrus play a diverse roster of instruments and have key roles in the band. Gagnon sings and plays the guitar, keyboard, and ukulele. Miller sings and plays the guitar and keyboard, like Gagnon, but also plays the trumpet, didgeridoo, and mandolin. Gagnon and Miller both provide percussion and work on the band’s production.

“We mostly write our own songs,” Stannard said. “But we do covers every now and again.”

Sketchy Walrus has a demo tape called “Mâitres d’aimtié,” which can be attained as a hard copy from Gagnon, or heard on Soundcloud, their website, or on their Facebook page.

The JC community has been welcoming and supportive of Sketchy Walrus. “[Everyone] has been kind to us, especially the teachers,” Gagnon said.

“We have gigs, my friends come to support us, and they listen to our music,” Stannard said. “Of course we would like to expand our following, even if it’s just us becoming a popular local band.”

According to Gagnon, the hardest part of having a band in high school is finding time to play.”A lot of our songwriting and practices are actually done over the internet,” Gagnon said.

From the beginning, Sketchy Walrus has been making music unique to itself. As a whole, the band works together to express themselves and incorporate their passion for music into songs. From practicing after school on the Internet to getting nervous before performances at local restaurants, to Sketchy Walrus, it’s all about the music.

Billy Jump is an In-Depth Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.