Alternative artist looks to find his unique style

Get a taste of Cordero’s personality as a musician. Shot and produced by Gabriel Paredes Reyes

Dabbling with the sea of buttons on his keyboard and tap dancing on the pedals for his electric guitar, alternative artist and Loyola University Chicago sophomore Ryan Cordero mixes and matches the tunes of his instruments to create a new sound.

Cordero and his music partner Charlie Granat have used their time throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to expand their musical abilities and create something new.

“As a new decade ushers in, as we become a new society due to COVID, I think that people are looking for that new sound that defines this generation,” Cordero said.

Their main sources of inspiration are the up-and-coming sounds of hyper-pop, the grunge of Nirvana and Blink-182 from the 90’s, as well as the psychedelic beats of Tame Impala and The Beatles. Cordero and Granat hope to mix these styles together to get a footing in this new musical era.

“If you look at the way that ‘genres’ have been created, it’s been about finding what you like from each genre of music and making something new out of it.”

Cordero uses his keyboard’s 600 + sounds to experiment and find his unique style. Shot by Gabriel Paredes Reyes

It was bound to be…

Although music has always been in the background, Cordero didn’t start taking music seriously until High School, when he saw how a family friend’s nephew expressed himself with just an acoustic guitar. This connection inspired him to experiment with instruments his father owned and train his ear by replicating his favorite records.

His father Hector Cordero’s wide assortment of instruments gave his son the opportunity to master the keyboard and the guitar.

“It was bound to be,” Cordero said.

Originally from New Jersey, Cordero’s freshman year dorm only allowed space for his acoustic guitar, which his father bought him as a graduation present. With his instrument, he soon connected with other students who were musically inclined.

“Talking to people, you’d be surprised,” Cordero said. “Whether it be at bars, house parties or on the train, you bring up some musical act and you find out they’re actually a music major.”

Cordero’s acoustic guitar was a graduation present from his father. Shot by Gabriel Paredes Reyes

Now that he has his own apartment as a Sophomore, Cordero has all the time and space he needs for his keyboard, as well as acoustic, electric, and bass guitars to work on his music. 

Music and social media

Throughout the pandemic, however, finding consistent people to play with has been tough, making social media apps like TikTok pivotal for networking and sharing music.

“It seems that a very popular thing for new music now is to create that, five or ten second, vignette of something that’s catchy or ear worm,” Cordero said. “And then people keep reusing and reusing the song… to then use it for dances on Tik Tok.”

In contrast, due to the pandemic Cordero has found it difficult to find more underground groups in Chicago since they don’t have as many opportunities for an open mic.

The viral nature of music through social media doesn’t bother Cordero though, as genuine quality is still key for relevancy in the long-term. 

“With hyper, comes forgetability. How many songs from last year that blew up on TikTok can you mention right now?” Cordero asked. “Unless it’s a really good song, or you really vibe with the styles of the artist, then it’s just going to be forgotten with the billions of songs that are being circulated on TikTok.”

Cordero showing off his electric guitar. Shot by Gabriel Paredes Reyes

Now that the U.S. is seeing the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, Cordero’s goal by the end of the summer is to play his music at a house party. As social gatherings become more acceptable, he’s optimistic to see people not just listen to music at home, but also go back to the energy of a live performance.

“It kind of gets lame when you hear a song at a party and you don’t see the person performing the song,” Cordero said. “When you hear the song, you know what to expect but when you hear it live, there is just a bit of a difference.”