Local musician Eli Raybon will soon pack the car and hit the road for Austin, Texas. The alternative/electronic artist recently completed a sci-fi album and will perform at the South by Southwest Music Festival on Friday.
Raybon and family have lived in Waynesboro for more than a year. The 21-year-old artist has moved nearly a dozen times. Born in Ohio, he grew up in Mississippi and North Carolina.
“We love it in Waynesboro,” he said. “We like the weather, the seasons and the mountains. We plan on being in Waynesboro long term.”
Raybon grew up around music. When he was 12, he took an interest in learning to play guitar. He was a natural, and less than a year later formed a punk rock band called Positive Charge. They played for fundraisers.
“That’s how I got my first taste,” he said of performing.
He took a break from music about age 15. However, fundraisers still contacted him and he eventually decided to try performing on his own. He wrote songs, sang and played guitar.
“When I started to get into keyboards, it opened a lot of doors musically,” Raybon said. “It’s easy to fall in the same habit, but with the synthesizer and base guitar, I come up with new ideas.”
Hence his sci-fi album, “Supertoys.” Sci-fi is something Raybon has wanted to try since he was young.
“On the surface, they are sci-fi songs lyrically, but they end up having double meaning,” he said.
He often doesn’t realize how personal the songs are to him until after they’re written.
“I’ve been having a lot of fun in that space,” he said. “It’s been received well. The festival is a whole set of the new stuff.”
The South by Southwest, or SXSW, Conference and Festivals celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film and music industries, according to the website. The festival encourages creative and personal growth. It is known to be a good discovery place for independent artists to have their careers started.
“I’m extremely excited,” Raybon said.
While he’s played at tons of local venues, he’s never played a set without an acoustic guitar. At the festival, Raybon will be on stage with a microphone, drums and key set. There’s no band, everything is on him.
“I’ve had to put together a set from scratch; I’ve never done anything like it before,” he said. “Over the past few weeks everything has fell into place. I’ve always wanted to play shows like this. I’m fired up to do that. I’m sure I’ll be nervous, but right now still in Waynesboro I’m looking forward to it and super amped.”
He plans on having fun with the set. The music allows a fun, theatrical performance.
“What I’m having the most fun with is, it’s serious music but it has a sense of humor to it,” Raybon said. “The music begs you to do fun stuff.”
His show at SXSW is March 15. The set is 40 minutes from 9 p.m. until 9:40 p.m.
On the SXSW website, they say Raybon has “quickly established himself as a sci-fi weirdo auteur” and calls his new album an “alluring release.”
“The record is pure retro-futurism, combining cyberpunk storytelling and disco beats with a myriad of analog synth work,” the website says.
The first single from “Supertoys” will release on March 29.
While the performance will not be live-streamed, people interested in his music can follow on social media. He is on social media under his name and his website is eliraybon.com. His music can be found on Spotify.