Like all college students, I hate finals week. It is a week that comes twice every year that puts already-mentally-fatigued students through a deeper living hell. It is the apocalypse realized and the devil’s time of year (I have confirmed this …). I am in my fifth year in college and I approach this week differently every semester. Most students’ finals rituals involve all-night caffeine binges, setting up camp in the library, late night study group sessions, etc. I, however, do not follow these rhythms of preparation and instead, ride a different wave. Music is—and will always be—my therapeutic healing in times of anxiety and stress—an oasis that frees me from reality. In the context of finals week, music remedies the anxiety of passing classes and removes pressures and expectations of achieving high grades. It is the key to liberating oneself from their mental dungeons.
During last semester’s finals, I studied in the library and periodically surfed SoundCloud. SoundCloud’s suggestions system has done wonders for me in terms of discovering new artists, so I am always scavenging the community to see what talented treasures I can find. After streaming a myriad of sounds, I was invited to the chill-hop/ hip-hop airwaves of Dungeon Destroyah, a “pixel artist, beatsmith & superhero” as quoted in his artist profile. As I listened to his track ‘H A U Ϟ T E ℜ‘, I immediately took it to social media, linked my friends to the track, and darted to the next song.
The track had a chilling drumbeat flow backed by dreamy arcade chip-tune snyths that bridged back and forth with an eerie choir sample that made the listener feel as though they had threaded through a haunted church. From there, I entered the 16-bit corridors of the year-old ‘DeathGod Supernova’ beat tape—an EP that expanded on the fusion of primitive chip-tune electronics and heavy boom-bap beats. My love for vintage video game tunes made this project an instant favorite for me. I would end most of these tired library nights with one of Dungeon Destroyah’s episodic “Live In the Dungeon” videos, where he would perform a live set hidden in the dark with anime movies played largely in the background. The juxtaposition of music and image made these experiences a hypnotic feast for the senses. His music told the story and accentuated the dimensions of scenic tones felt throughout the film. I have probably watched the Cat Soup one about a million times!
With the advent of social media outlets and accessibility to meet new people, I was lucky to have found the real identity of Dungeon Destroyah. Shawnee Sky Salazar was the name of the mastermind behind these mesmerized electronic orchestrations. The tongue-twisting name alone is enough to deserve fam. Salazar is a down-to-Earth, 23-year old beatsmith currently living in Phoenix, Arizona. In his free time, he channels his unlimited creativity towards hobbies and other artistic mediums and forms.
He loves photography, playing ping pong, watching Anime, making pixel art, cooking, and joking with friends. When I asked Salazar about his aspirations as a musician, Salazer responded that “he would love to play at Low End Theory” someday. Aside from music-based goals, Salazar has dreams of traveling to Japan and hitting up every arcade and ramen spot possible! In terms of musical influences, Salazar’s has been inspired by a plethora of artists such as Akira Yamaoka, The Prodigy, DJ Premier, RZA, Deftones, Gorillaz, Portishead, and Nobou Uematsu.
As Salazar inches closer towards the exciting release of his upcoming project titled Mangoes, he wants to continue offering his following a diverse plate of soundscapes that explores his versatility and love for other genres. Salazar has mentioned that, unlike his previous projects such as ‘DeathGod Supernova‘ and ‘Aokigahara, Mangoes’ track concepts are much happier and ethereal in tone, reflecting the growth and maturity of Salazar as an artist.
I highly recommend listening to the immersive, musical catacombs of Salazar’s atmospheric ‘DeathGod Supernova‘. For anybody looking for a darker approach to chip-tuned flavored hip hop, or chill beat compositions, I strongly implore you to check out Salazar’s works. In the giant ocean of talented beatmakers trying to make their stamp, Salazar will always remain a favorite of mine—and I have to thank him for getting me through those exhausting nights at the library, and opening up the wide frontier of talented indie producers that can be found on SoundCloud. Unlock your inner dungeons and give this man a hard look.