Jarvix carries his ukulele and passion for music all around OKC 

click to enlarge Uke Solo — 9th Annual Norman Music Festival - NMF9
  • NMF9
  • Uke Solo — 9th Annual Norman Music Festival

Those who see live acoustic performances or open mics in the metropolitan area have likely at least crossed paths with Evan Jarvicks, a local songwriter and ukulele player who regularly defies the impression many have of the instrument.

The small lute is usually associated with swing time, jazzy or Hawaiian strumming without much depth. Jarvicks, whose birth name is Steven Hardin, performs and records under the stylized name Jarvix and uses a loop pedal in his live sets for in-the-moment sampling and playback often enhanced by sounds from a personal collection of items and knick-knacks not necessarily considered artful or even musical.

His creativity draws intriguing, cerebral sounds from egg shakers, Slinky-like toys, paper, whoopee cushions, bells, tambourines and more. In this company, the ukulele’s peculiarity is appropriate.

“It’s fun to mine everything you can out of an instrument that nobody has any expectations of,” he said.

The small, guitarlike instrument will be prominently featured in his $5 show 10  p.m. Dec. 29 at The Deli, 309 White St., in Norman. Guests must be at least 21 years old to attend. Jarvicks actively supports the local arts and music scenes in part because his current endeavors were inspired by community shows and art.

“If it weren’t for the scene, I would not be anything that I am now,” he said.

He is a self-described late bloomer because he committed to his music career in his mid-20s. He grew up without much exposure to anything happening within his own state and played French horn in school band, but that was the extent of his playing career before he picked up the ukulele.

His brother Michael was a fan of experimental rock band of Montreal. When the group was named a Norman Music Festival headliner in 2009, Michael attended and had a good enough time that he invited his brother to attend the next year.

The festival broadened Jarvicks’ view of a local scene he knew little about. After that, he started attending local shows at Norman’s Opolis music venue before eventually discovering The Spy KOSU (91.7 FM) and, in turn, the local NPR station’s Oklahoma Rock Show.

Jarvicks felt compelled to create. He tried learning piano but quickly become impatient. He wanted to make music right away.

One day in 2011, he found a cheap ukulele at a music store and immediately fell in love with its sound and how easy it was to pick up and play. He began writing songs and posting music anonymously to the internet as he worked up the courage to perform at open mic events around the city.

His influences and experiences snowballed into the experimental and quirky sounds of Jarvix.

“I never thought [making music] was viable or feasible because … I don’t own a guitar and I haven’t been practicing in my bedroom for eight hours a day like some of these guys do,” he said.

As Jarvicks began releasing original music, he realized he needed a new handle. He did not want to use his birth name because, one, there already were plenty of Steven Hardins around (including Oklahoma songwriter and musician Steve Hardin).

He also felt a little insecure, and it helped to start with a blank slate.

“With music, I felt a need to create a new identity, in a sense,” he said. “And from a branding perspective, I think that’s certainly part of it. I think Jarvix is a much more interesting name.”

Most people never realize Jarvicks is a pseudonym. He just doesn’t like to talk about himself.

“I kind of do a weird double-life thing,” he said. “But it works really well for me.”

Jarvicks released two EPs this year, and the two projects couldn’t be more different. In March, he put out the 130 BPM EP, an automated, tongue-in-cheek critique of Top 40 radio that featured no ukulele whatsoever.

In September, he released the far more serious As You Are: The Looper Sessions, a raw collection of longer, more meaningful songs, each recorded in one take, with no edits. On the EP, Jarvicks explores loneliness and self-acceptance.

Moving on, Jarvicks is focusing on what he calls “Jarvix 3.0.”

His first incarnation was him and the ukulele. Later, he added the loop pedal and his trademark creativity.

Now, he wants to improve and expand his live show, which includes upgrading his equipment. He also wants to book better shows and increase his crowd interaction. In recent months, Jarvicks has played gigs at Power House and Norman’s The Deli.

“I’m trying to get a good feel for what my live presence is going to be before I delve into any new material,” he said.

Jarvicks has quickly created a local niche for himself by creating music in truly original ways. He said everyone, regardless of age, should follow their dreams.

“There’s no better time,” he said.

Visit jarvix.bandcamp.com.

Print headline: Creative movement, Musician Evan Jarvicks makes a big noise with a tiny, four-stringed guitar and an abundance of passion.

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