Roger Sellers is one of Austin’s most versatile musicians. A former acoustic-folk singer-songwriter who still sometimes sits in with Americana band the Deer, Sellers started performing under the name Bayonne to pursue his passion for electronic music.
Taking the Miller Lite stage at the Austin City Limits Music Festival shortly before noon on Friday, Sellers — joined on many songs by drummer Matt Toman and bassist Jesse Dalton — helped get the day started with engaging and adventurous sounds. We talked with Sellers and Toman after the set.
Austin360: At Psych Fest in 2014, you performed solo; Toman joined you at Fun Fun Fun Fest last year. Do you usually perform with others?
Roger Sellers: “More than often it’s just by myself, whenever I’m on the road. But whenever I’m in Texas, or doing like a festival, I always get this guy. I added Jesse, one of my best friends, as a bass player. He’s my roommate, we’ve been making music a long time. It’s good to have an extra drummer.”
Are you partly just more able to bring in others now that you’re better known?
RS: “I don’t think it’s a matter of resources, I think it’s just a matter of wanting to play with my friends. Because they’re my best friends. It’s easy, and they’re just playing on top of it. I pretty much do what I usually do.”
Matt Toman: “It all came out just super unexpectedly. It was just like, ‘You want to do this?’ ‘OK, all right.'”
Have you played ACL Fest before?
RS: “This is the first time actually even here; I’ve never been to ACL. I remember seeing the lights from my apartment, that’s it. Hearing Stevie Wonder one time.”
Where are you from originally?
RS: “We both came from Houston, and we met at Texas State. We were playing in two different bands, and just happened to meet up that way.”
MT: “I actually remember I saw him on MySpace, this was back in the day when we actually listed our influences on our pages. And I saw, like, dude, this guy is into like Tortoise and stuff? Ah, I’ve got to meet this guy.”
Electronic music in Austin got a big boost recently when Survive did the theme song to the Netflix hit Stranger Things. Do you know them?
RS: “I don’t think I’ve ever met them. I didn’t know much about them until they blew up from that show. It’s possible we could have crossed paths. Maybe I played a show with them, who knows? They’re great, though. I really like their stuff.”
Is electronic music thriving in Austin now?
RS: “I think that like everywhere it’s kind of becoming more prevalent. Honestly, I think Houston has a way better electronic community and scene. But it’s happening. I think in general, there’s more synth based electronic music happening. You’re hearing that a lot more. I guess with technology, it’s becoming a lot more regular. I was talking about this the other day — like, the Marmalakes drummer has an SPD pad. And one thing starts to lead to another, and stuff starts changing that way, which is interesting to me.”
What led you to shift gears from folk and acoustic?
RS: “It was just the influence of what I was listening to at the time — a lot of college-type avant garde music when I was in my early 20s. I bought a looper, and that just changed everything. It happened very naturally. It all comes from the same place. Just gear, and listening, and being in college, and trying to do things differently.”