Occidental musicians take on L.A. music scene


Under the dim light of Branca Patio, folksy septet Behon prepared for their Nov. 18 show. With the brass section, guitar, bass, drums and keyboard all warming up at once, it was anyone’s guess what their music would actually sound like.

The band is almost entirely composed of Occidental students and alumni, with the exception of founder Brendan Han. The other six members are Wayana Dolan (junior), Alyssa Cottle (senior), Jacob Richman (junior), Michael Ursu ’13, Sean Embry-Stine ’13 and Jeff Leblow ’13. In addition to performing locally, Behon also recently released their first EP, titled “Head and Heart.”

Han—the band’s frontman, lead vocalist, guitarist and harmonica player—was the impetus behind Behon’s creation. Before the band’s formation, he used to record himself singing and playing accompanying instruments separately and later spliced the tracks together.

“It was really singer/songwriter type stuff in the beginning, but I really wanted to find a band to play shows with,” Han said.

This dream came to life when Leblow introduced him to a number of students from the Occidental music department. Leblow and Han recruited Dolan and Embery-Stine, and Leblow brought in the rest of the band. They started rehearsing as a full band earlier this summer.

Saxophonists Dolan and Cottle and trombonist Leblow were all members of the Occidental Jazz Ensemble. Meanwhile, keyboardist Embery-Stine and drummer Ursu developed their musical flair by playing in rock bands throughout high school and college.

“I think Brendan brings the songs to the table, and we all play different instruments and all have different musical ears from our musical backgrounds,” Cottle said. “So we can all kind of hear different things when we hear the song, and I think that’s really cool.”

Though the group seems to have found their chemistry, Ursu said that learning to play together was not always so easy. For him, learning to play the drums in a band setting required an adjustment.

“Drums are a big experiment for me, a lot easier than playing just guitar in my experience. You don’t have to worry about notes to hit or the harmony,” Ursu said. “I just hit like five things and don’t have to worry about it.”

So far, Behon has played at parties, backyard shows and coffee shops. Each show, according to Han, is a test of the group’s cohesiveness and confidence on stage. They will play at “Burning Mak”—a show hosted by Ursu on Dec. 5—and plan to perform at venues in the greater Los Angeles community in the future.

“We’re reaching out to The Mint over on West Pico for a show at the end of January, so hopefully that works out and we’ll be able to play some more shows,” Han said.

Those interested in hearing their innovative, uplifting and home-grown tunes can learn more about “Head and Heart EP” and their latest gigs by following Behon on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.


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