On today’s episode of ‘prog music aficionados from the legendary Berklee College of Music’ we have for you Ok Goodnight! They’re a special genre-fluid group who fly heavily under the radar and something needs to be done to remedy that; here I am hoping this article does something in that regard! They are relatively fresh off the release of their newest record, the triumphantly enthralling The Fox and the Bird, and are set to tour North American this summer, so this serves as the perfect opportunity to shed even more light on them as they continue to grow and gain listeners; let’s fill those venues up!

As I briefly poked at, Ok Goodnight was born in Berklee College of Music among several other sibling bands (Aviations, Native Construct, Bent Knee, Sound Struggle, etc…) as a fun way to pass the time. Taking inspiration from so many iconic artists and groups, Ok Goodnight grew into something that is completely their own. Vocalist Casey Lee Williams had this to say regarding the music that inspired the band and continues to to this day:

We all come from very different backgrounds musically, and we’ve always been excited to use that to our advantage in all the ways that we can. The band initially was inspired by prog rock/metal artists such as Dream Theater, Leprous, The Dear Hunter, Steven Wilson, and Protest the Hero. As we grew as a project, so did all of our individual influences, so we began adding even more inspirations to the roster such as Porcupine Tree, The Mars Volta, Sigur Rós, Paramore, Bent Knee, Kindo, MUTEMATH, Tigran Hamasyan, Radiohead, etc. The list is never-ending, and I think it always should be.

Insert obligatory ‘here to upvote Protest the Hero‘.

As things slowly fell into place, as they tend to, it came to light that this little musical escapade was more than originally thought and worth fully indulging in. From the first jam sessions, to actual songs coming together and then collection of songs making up that very first album, Ok Goodnight was no longer something that the would-be members just talked about hypothetically throughout the week in between classes and work; it became reality.

Since the project began in our college-dorming days, the origins of the name are actually quite funny and simple in a way. A few of the early members of the band who were rooming together (Martin Gonzalez and Ron Bernhaut) had a playful joke where they would constantly say ‘Ok, goodnight‘ to each other at the end of nights, which would then be followed by giggles and continued silliness rather than sleep. It turned out to be quite the fitting name for a group of such fun but passionate prog/metal musicians. I think it is very fair to say that this band started as a very fun, jam-based project with a group of prog and jazz-influenced students, and it slowly turned into a more serious passion project as time went on. We put out our first album in 2019, members of the band started changing, we started gaining a bit of a following, and things continued to evolve naturally from there based on the group’s different ambitions and visions for the project’s future.

Ok Goodnight is direct evidence that nearly any idea given enough love and thought, can blossom into something totally unexpected, within reason of course. It is a reminder to me but also to you that we shouldn’t let the weight of life completely detract us from our passion projects/hobbies that allow us an emotional escape from the world. It can be hard to commit and develop regular habits for these types of things we’re too busy for, but you never know where they’ll take you; there is only one way to find out.

Back to the matter at hand. I say this for dramatic effect rather than for definite truth, but they wouldn’t be Berklee alum if they weren’t active musically beyond Ok Goodnight and that is most certainly the case for this prolific bunch. From being in other bands, to film scores and music for animated series, the previous and current members of Ok Goodnight live and breath music and it couldn’t be any more obvious.

We all have a hard time containing ourselves musically and just love stretching our artistic boundaries as far as they can go. I myself (Casey) write music for an animated show called RWBY with our previous guitar player Martin Gonzalez, which ranges from rock/metal to experimental electronic pop. I write solo music as well, which I have yet to release, but that’s coming soon! Peter is in another band called Seven Spires, which is primarily a symphonic metal band. Augusto is in another band called FM Collective, which combines aspects of hip-hop, jazz, and fusion in their sound. Last but not least, Martín de Lima is a film composer by day, who is seemingly able to dip his toes in almost any genre that’s necessary for a given project. I am so grateful to have met these incredible musicians that I can also call my family as well, and it feels amazing that we are all as passionate and invested in Ok Goodnight as we are.

Let’s dig into the music, shall we? The Fox and the Bird was my introduction to the band not long after it had been released, and it was something you could easily tell would be special based off the introductory track alone. “The Drought” sets the musical and conceptual stage for the rest of the record with its brooding atmosphere and developing tension that is sure to hook you in one fell swoop. Despite being just a three-minute intro piece, there’s a lot packed in to guarantee you’re made a repeat customer for this track alone and the record as a whole quite honestly. Williams’ powerfully evocative and dynamic vocals do an excellent job in beautifully tying every musical element together and making you an instant fan of the band. Following “The Drought”, you’re already hooked, so the rest of the album to follow is icing on the cake.

The Fox and the Bird isn’t a ‘traditional’ concept album in which only the lyrics/song titles are part of an interwoven story, completely independent of whatever musical vehicle they’re accompanied by. The music itself ebbs and flows with the events that transpire in this storyline, ultimately providing another dimensional facet to the songs; another perfect example of this type of conceptual record is literally anything by The Reticent. These types of concept records are the ones that stick with you for a really long time.

The tracklist, and album as a whole, was meant to be digested as a fairy tale, with the tracks being chapter titles and the lyrics and instrumentation working together to tell the story. In the album, we follow the story of two life-long companions called the Fox and the Bird. We watch as they venture out onto a perilous journey in order to save their home from the worst drought it’s seen in centuries. Their village wise man, the Raccoon, tells them of a legendary myth where a group of holy spirits reside on the peak of a snowy mountain far away. He tells them the spirits may bless their home with rain once again if they are brought a set of special totems: the skin of a snake, the feather of a falcon, the tooth of a crocodile, and the claw of a bear. The Fox and the Bird volunteer to go on this quest to save their village. Although they encounter many dangers, they find themselves prepared to look death in the face if it means returning the rain to their home.’

At the moment, this album is a standalone story, and I don’t think we have any plans to expand it musically. We worked on this album and the story for about 3 and a half years, so we definitely tried to give it the time and energy it needed to be the best it could be. That being said, we’ve always said that we would love to see the way other artists and listeners might interpret and expand upon the story and universe in other forms of media!

Speaking of the various tracks representing various chapters in our protagonists’ arduous journey, it is something that truly feels that way as you listen with how the music itself is composed. Throughout every single chapter/song on this record, not just the main climactic points (“The Snake/Falcon/Bear/Crocodile”), you might as well be embarking alongside the fox and the bird with how you’re there every step of the way, vicariously experiencing this epic voyage firsthand. Even during the interludes in which our heroes are taking a rest, you have “The Nightmare” and “The Dream” which are as engrossing as every other song. As you’d expect, the former is orchestrally chaotic and intentionally stressful whereas the latter is as tranquil as can be. In short, wherever the fox and the bird face extreme adversity, the music directly reflects that, further elevating the conceptual component of the music at hand.

While each track is sure to satisfy the musical desires of all the prog nerds out there, the penultimate track is especially gratifying with how it is an onslaught of lethal riffs that are sure to leave your neck a bit sore. On top of that, it is a massive emotional release that represents the final monumental summit to be climbed, building up to “The Rain”. What I would give to have a full-on ambient/orchestral record in the vein of the closing track with how gorgeously serene it is, making for a perfect way to close out this psychologically vivid journey of epic proportions. There isn’t a time I don’t get chills as I make it to the end of this album, as I always need to take a moment to decompress and ground myself back to reality.

In case it wasn’t obvious, Ok Goodnight‘s music is *chef’s kiss*. I’ll wrap things up by highlighting the fact that they’re a fully independent band. With the bands Berklee background, it makes a world of difference in being able to successfully survive without the assistance of a record label, which does have many downsides in ways that aren’t easily visible. Peter de Reyna (bassist/manager) provides some closing remarks on how they balance making unforgettable music without getting buried in all the managerial/administrative details:

‘Navigating the music industry as an independent band can be described in a lot of ways, and it really comes down to the specific defining qualities of the artist as well as their fan base. There are some projects in operating of a band that need a lot of consistent attention over a long period of time, but there are also pleasant surprises which are maximized when the artist is in full control. It’s an extremely rewarding experience to be guiding Ok Goodnight through these stages and especially because of the band members’ great minds. Between all of us, every blind spot is covered and every task completed! At the end of the day, I think all of us on the team really enjoy being pushed to do the maximum that we can for our own sake. I believe that life is full of trade-offs, and that for the moment Ok Goodnight is extremely well poised to place our art into the ears and eyes of many, many more new fans, friends, and supporters! We can’t wait for what is coming next.’

Ok Goodnight is:

Casey Lee Williams – Vocals
Martín de Lima – Piano / Guitar
Augusto Bussio – Drums / Guitar
Peter de Reyna – Bass

With the endlessly growing sea of music out there, Ok Goodnight are most definitely worth your time to check out, so why not treat yourself with some fabulous tunes? Swing by their socials (Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp | Band Website) to stay in the know about all things related to the band. If you’re in North America and their upcoming summer tour with Challenger Deep (US) and Lines in the Sky is stopping by a venue near you (dates and stops below), it is in your best interest to go. Anyways, thanks for joining me, ok goodnight!

Leave a Reply