UO INTERVIEWS: THE ONYX VIOLINSOctober 2, 2017
We discovered the talented, violin-playing duo The Onyx Violins (@onyxviolins) on a walk through SoHo and immediately set out to collaborate: discover the emerging musicians here, and go behind the scenes as we teamed up with them on a special shoot for Nautica.
Can you share more about your backgrounds — who you are, where you’re from?
We are OnyxViolins, a duo made of Sean Bennett and Samir Robinson based in Philadelphia.
How did you both get started as musicians? What are some of your early memories involving music?
We got involved in music through the Philadelphia public school music (which is why Art in Public School is important!!!). Sean’s earliest musical memory would be playing an Irish gig for his first concert ever. He remembers feeling so at home in a setting usually associated with high anxiety, the stage.
When did you start performing?
We started performing together in fall 2016 and founded OnyxViolins in June 2017.
Our creative director spotted you playing in NYC — can you share more about what it’s like for you to perform on the streets of NYC? What have been the best things you’ve learned from playing in such a specific public space?
Playing in NYC is always very uplifting. You sometimes feel so ineffective and small in a sea full of talent and skills but when we disregard that and play from the heart the reception is unbelievable (and overwhelming at times, in a good way!). We believe that the people of NYC have an eye for fine artistry and to be in that eye brings us a sense of a satisfaction and gratitude. Street performing is not a walk in the park. We’ve learned that in order to attract an audience we have to connect with our genuine, artistic selves. People can relate to our expression but only if it is from the heart will they stop and connect with us.
What is inspiring both of you right now?
Our biggest inspiration would have to be all the great violinists who’ve come before us. More importantly we are inspired by the African American classical musicians that paved the way for representation in the classical music scene despite the sociopolitical circumstances of their day.
What are some of your favourite spots in NYC?
We love to play anywhere in Soho. The Fashion district has such a deep appreciation for great art.
Describe a dream project or a personal goal for your career.
We’d love to play behind some of today’s biggest pop and hip-hop artists in the most popular and grandest performance venues.
What’s next for you both? How can our followers find you/your music?
Our biggest priority right now is getting the knowledge and experience we need in order to elevate our talents.
Shop Nautica’s new collection which we shot featuring The Onyx Violins