What I’m Listening To is a series where we talk to exciting artists and musicians and get a five song slice of their current playlist.
“No matter what I do, I guarantee it will make you feel something and remind you we can all be more than we realize.”
SpaceWalker aka April Walker aka Sacramento’s favorite unicorn avoided ‘girly things’ for years, resisting the pressure to like them. That changed when she became drawn to unicorns. “Sure, it’s beautiful, but it’s also magical, one of a kind, and bad ass. Born to inspire but also born with the tools to fight back (that horn is sharp!). That’s how I strive to be as a woman and how I feel as SpaceWalker.” She promotes the idea of unicorns as a way to “get listeners to entertain the idea that there can be magic in the real world, whether big or small, and the ‘impossible’ could be possible after all.”
Walker grew up in a family full of musically inclined people. “I was just a listener hoping for a seat at the table one day.” The genre-bending solo musician and this month’s WILT playlist curator started playing percussion in school at ten. She started writing poetry at 13, then composing and arranging songs by ear at 14. A year later she joined her first band at a Utah boarding school.
“We were named after a Bible verse I can’t remember. I started out as the drummer and ended up being the singer/screamer for a while. We played at Church and lyrics were heavily censored so I got really clever about making songs sound religious that were really me expressing myself and my hardships. It made me a much better writer.” After that, she was in a high school grunge band called Gacy’s Basement.
Eventually, she made her way to Sacramento. “The guy I liked ditched me and I didn’t really know anyone else out here so I kept to myself and wrote several songs a day.” She eventually made friends and even joined a rockabilly band, the Junk Merchants, before transitioning to solo work with projects like Mother May I & the PrettyPlease, and later the hybrid reggae, grunge, nu metal The Soular. But, “I was still in the loner poet mindset and they would tease me for spacing out and the name ‘Space’ just stuck.”
The nickname would come to have more significance at a talent show at Sacramento City College five years ago as she was heading onstage. At that point, it was more common that use of her real name, so when asked how she would like to be introduced, someone suggested Space Walker. “Something within just clicked and I’ve never had a stage name I like more. SpaceWalker is everything I’ve suppressed or was told I couldn’t achieve right in your face in the most fun way possible.”
Walker considers herself genre-fluid. “When people beg for an explanation or specific genre I usually say ‘alternative soul’ or ‘as punk rock as hip-hop gets.’ However, in reality, like Prince or David Bowie, I have a lot of fun with being able to be a musical chameleon while staying true to myself at all times. My musical style reflects my mood and personal growth which shifts often.”
Accordingly, she does not like to be tied down to a form of art or alias. To this end, she established Interstellar Beats. Named after a former stage name of hers (Ms. Mars: Queen of Interstellar Beats) it is a blanket site and term for all her creative endeavors. “I’m a one-woman-band, producer, an Emcee, a visual artist, and I also write music for children. I don’t always want to create as SpaceWalker but don’t want to be littered with alter egos.” She says it may turn into a record label or production name one day but for now, it’s a brand that “whenever you see it mentioned, lets you know I sprinkled my magic on the project somehow.”
So what does unicorn and musician extraordinaire SpaceWalker listen to? Let’s find out.
Introflirt-‘Frozen Lace’- “I performed at Lady Fest Sacramento this year and that’s where I met the personifications of light known as Introflirt. They blew me away with their unique style (they named it ‘Croon Wave’), stage presence, and incredible ability to make even the shyest person in the room groove on the dance floor. They made me feel nostalgic while knowing I was witnessing something new and ahead of its time. Unfortunately, both members of the group, Ben and Denalda, lost their lives in the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. This song shines on its own, but when I found out they passed away, this song was (and still is) on repeat and gives me chills because I can feel their presence in it and it’s a groove you can lose yourself in. All of their music is absolutely amazing, but their album Temporary Heaven has been the album I revisit most often.”
Shit Robot ft. Reggie Watts- ‘Where It’s At’- “Reggie Watts is a main musical influence for me for obvious and not so obvious reasons. His drive and ability to awaken the masses is just as powerful and admirable as his pure musical talent and awkward charm. I just saw him live in Oakland and it was incredible. Known to many for his use of a loop pedal and comedy, I love this song because it’s a different side of him. He has so much to offer the entertainment world and the world in general. Shit Robot is the underrated hero electronic music needs. This collaboration is pure gold.”
David Bowie-‘Rock n’ Roll Suicide’-“Sometimes life wears you down and you need a pep talk from David Bowie. I tear up pretty much every time I hear this song for various reasons.”
Nina Simone-‘Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter’- “It’s a song about Nina Simone throwing shade and it’s still classy and funky as hell. Need I say more? This song makes me feel like a badass.”
Kid Cudi-‘Surfin’ ft Pharrell Williams’- “The depth of the beat is enough to sell me on this track but the ancestral overtones, confident witty lyrics, and unapologetic quirks (Did he yodel at the end?!) make this song an epic feel-good journey. I really appreciate the genuinely t[h]rill and spiritual place that the whole album, Passion, Pain, and Demon Slaying, comes from. I feel like some of the songs are narrating things I’m experiencing myself right now and to top it all off this project is just so fucking fun!!”
SpaceWalker is currently working on her debut album Divinity and Beyond, which is the second chapter to the story she began in her EP Folktronica: A Prelude. “The EP was about aliens following me to see if I’m ready to know that I’m one of them. The upcoming album is me discovering I am indeed not of this world and discovering my true power and potential while still trying to live like a human and what that means for me.”
Walker has a lot of great things coming up for her. She will be doing two series of performances: a free/donation based Kids Day with Ms. Unicorn events every second Sunday from 2-4 pm at Sol Collective and her event series Cosmic Cantina. Recently performed at Art Street, the series “blends creative place making and visual, audio, and culinary art forms will definitely be popping up again soon with even more whimsical themes.”
She will be playing Sol Collective for Andrew Castro’s album release on March 4th. Presale tickets are $10 and proceeds go to the charity Loaves and Fishes. She has shows at Fox and Goose on April 1st, at a 4/20 Prince tribute put on by Jezebelle’s Army, a Polesque dance troop at the Starlite Lounge ($10 presale, $14 at the door), in San Francisco on April 28th with ZFG at Grace Cathedral with Zion I, Jel of Anticon, and more and at First Festival in May. In addition, “I plan to debut my new instrumental/DJ set at at one of those events so please keep your third eye peeled.”
Get more info on SpaceWalker and her projects here.
Words: K. Hules.