On Ryan Sevilla’s wall hang two vintage film posters — Lon Chaney’s “Phantom of the Opera” and Karl Freund’s “The Mummy” — a combo of classic horror and theatricality that his band, Sixty Lumens, blends with electronic alt-rock on their upcoming extended play (EP) “VoidCo.”
Sevilla, 25, graduated from Loyola in 2017 with a degree in software engineering, which is his day job when he’s not busy selling out the House of Blues or the Bottom Lounge with his band.
Having first picked up a guitar in sixth grade, Sevilla began making music in middle school, through high school and into college, where he became the director of concerts for Loyola’s Department of Programming (DOP) as a senior.
In his time with the DOP, Sevilla ran open mics and got involved with the student musician scene at Loyola, appearing on the university’s radio station WLUW 88.9 and performing in a battle of the bands. He opened for metal band BearTooth and almost opened for Kesha twice, though the pop singer canceled both times.
“It was still really fun to organize those events and to take part in planning them,” Sevilla said in an interview with The Phoenix. “It set me up with a lot of skills that are transferable to music, things like marketing events, putting together merchandise, incentivizing people to show up.”
In the intervening years, Sevilla has been putting those skills to good use. A few years after graduation, he began putting together a project in his home studio with some help from his bandmate, guitarist Dan O’Hara.
“You can always do stuff solo, but my personal experience tells me that you’re always gonna have a narrow view of how the song is gonna work out,” Sevilla said of his creative process. “Working with other people is always a better way to bring new perspective and get fresh takes on the song that you’re writing.”
It was through O’Hara that Sevilla met drummer Michael Mickey. Together, with Sevilla as the lead vocalist and lyricist, the three comprise the lineup of Sixty Lumens. Their collective sound puts a fresh spin on the emo and pop-punk soundscape of the 2000s, with lyrics that have a strong narrative style.
Sevilla cites rock legends like Green Day and Pink Floyd among his lyrical influences, and said he also loves the “vibey, supernatural energy” of PVRIS and the “killer, powerhouse songs” of My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy.
He likened his band’s sound to Bring Me The Horizon, whom he admires as being “ahead of the game on songwriting.”
When it comes to influences, however, Sevilla doesn’t limit himself to other musicians. Sixty Lumens’ upcoming EP also takes inspiration from the Netflix show “Stranger Things,” Lovecraftian horror and the video game “Portal.”
The storyline of the five-track concept EP, called “VoidCo,” centers around a corporation of the same name, which Sevilla described as “a shady, morally ambiguous company” attempting to “revolutionize the transportation industry by channeling the power of black holes.” That is, until something goes sideways.
“One day [when] they’re working in their lab on this new technology, they open up a black hole and whoops, out comes this ‘Stranger Things’-esque interdimensional space creature that I call the Void,” Sevilla explained,
Sixty Lumens recently filmed and are set to release a music video that delves into the origins of the Void, which escapes containment and possesses an unsuspecting maintenance worker, kickstarting the story that unfolds across the EP.
“It’s up to the main character to go out and try and stop him, before the Void stops him,” Sevilla said. “It follows the journey of tracking this monster and a final epic battle.”
There’s more to the record than its rich science-fiction lore, however. Behind the cosmic horror of the Void lies an element of vulnerability.
“While there is a narrative that I’m writing here, there is also a lot of personal stuff that gets translated and interwoven into these songs,” Sevilla said.
The lyrics of “VoidCo” touch on darker subjects like anxiety and depression, and while bearing those thoughts to the world can be intimidating, Sevilla said it’s been a rewarding experience.
As for whether he’ll continue the storyline in future records, Sevilla doesn’t want to box himself in creatively but said he’s keeping the door open for more concept ideas in the future.
“I would love to keep building out the universe of these albums and have them have a shared universe, kind of like what Marvel does with the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” Sevilla said. “I think it would be so cool if there was a larger narrative being told here, not even necessarily just in the present but from different time frames.”
Rather than dropping all the songs at once, Sixty Lumens has released the EP’s first three singles intermittently, with more on the way.
The band’s fourth single, “The Void” is set to be released March 11, with the fifth and final song “Charade” dropping a few weeks later. Though live shows are temporarily off the table due to COVID-19, Sevilla is looking forward to sharing the full tracklist with the world.
“We really wanted to save the best for last for this EP,” he said.
Sixty Lumens’ music is available for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube.