I’m a Playlist-making hobbyist. Translation: I often avoid my myriad responsibilities by surfing through music streaming accounts. A month ago now, during a customary playlisting-procrastination sesh with a friend, I pulled up “Verses 24,” the most recent annual collection of rap and R&B I had listened to from January on. Though I was obnoxiously late to his heyday, I had only recently discovered King Geedorah, and my friend hadn’t heard of him at all.  So, we started down a rabbit hole:

Search: “Who is Kingf Geedorah”… 

Did you mean Who is King Geedorah?

After a brief Wikipedia skim, we discovered the man behind the remarkably familiar mask: King Geedorah was actually one of the many side projects of cult classic wordsmith and madvillian, MF DOOM. The triumph of curiosity turned musical discovery was a bit of a rush. A few days later, I mentioned the information to another friend:

“Bruh, yeah, you didn’t know that…?”

Harsh — but also, a reasonable response, given my belated announcement. Regardless, with the expansion of MF DOOM on my mind, my thoughts started to wander. When was the last time I experienced this phenomenon? When had I most memorably stumbled on a secret gem of a side project, old high school band, or one-off mixtape the drummer made? It seems there’s been a few times…

Shoegazing Together: Duster 

As a diehard shoegaze fan, I naturally fuck heavy with Duster – it comes with the territory. Before diving off the Duster deep-end, however, I eased my way into the shoegaze general fandom through the tracks of Signs Crushes Motorist, Helvetia, Glixen, Eiafuawn, and Blue Smiley.

One night, while sitting on a generic apartment couch, a slice of birthday cake in one hand, a discussion of this melancholic genre spun out before a friend and me. It began with the most ridiculous backstory of a Duster superfan ex of hers.

“Yeah, as soon as I told him about Helvetia and Eiafuawn both being connected to Duster members, he was so shocked. Maybe he was even a bit too excited about it…”

My jaw dropped, and yes — I too got a bit too excited: “YO, WAIT. I LOVE HELVETIA! AND EIAFUAWN! HOW ARE THEY CONNECTED TO DUSTER?”

Immediately, we dove into the nature of the connection. I learned that Eiafuawn and Helvetia were both side projects of various Duster members. Before this conversation, I hadn’t been incredibly close to this person. This dialogue connected us via a shared passion for melancholia and dense distortion. To truly form our friendship at a birthday party by making playlists, ranting about past flings, and gazing at our shoes proved a fast way of building a connection.

The Emo Phase Expands: Pierce the Veil 

For most of high school, I lived a revival of the early 2000s through an unparalleled obsession with screamo bands. Pierce the Veil (PTV) was my go-to jam in this period. I swear — lead vocalist Vic Fuentes could belt a nasally, whiny scream that, without fail, pierced through any level of distortion — so fucking awesome.

After I’d spent weeks in a daily loop through their 2016 album, Misadventures, I began to seek out more equally exciting screamo. One night, surfing through Spotify for similar artists on my half-broken Chromebook, I stumbled upon a song titled after the band – “Pierce the Veil” by Before Today. 

What a weird coincidence – maybe these guys directly inspired the name of PTV? This might be the sweet spot of musical discovery. Hell yeah. 

At first listen, I was obsessed with the singer’s sound, the band’s vibe, and the slightly low-resolution production quality. In a way, this song hit home just like PTV’s discography had lately. 

Well, shocking news, this was PTV. Essentially, that is  — after a quick Google search, I discovered Before Today was Vic Fuentes’ very first band. 

The Never Ending Side-Project Story

Beyond these instances, I’ve had countless conversations and independent epiphanies regarding the many side projects, high school bands, and one-off mixtapes of the music industry. These instances have been filled with absurd connections, winding online roads to discovery, and weirdly close readings of Reddit threads. 

Continue discovering a few more alternative pseudonyms I’ve found:

  1. Alex Turner of the Arctic MonkeysLast Shadow Puppets
  2. Phoebe Bridgers → the Better Oblivion Community Center
  3. Liam McClay → 10,000 different shoegaze bands. Trust me. (Sign Crushes Motorist, Birth Day, Take Care, Make His Ribs Show, etc.)
  4. Elliott SmithHeatmiser, primarily. Also: Stranger Than Fiction A.K.A. Harum Scarum, (Try: “Any Kind of Mudhen”)


  1. tungstenkitchen Avatar

    another duster side project: valium aggelein

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