MAGAZINE: New music from the South Bay emerges after pandemic

A glimpse into why new San Diego musicians are coming from south of 8


Marlena Harvey

Fritz Fayman and Ada Ngozi prepare for band practice at their house in Chula Vista. Photo by Marlena Harvey/ City Times Media

Marlena Harvey, Editor In Chief

CityScene, Fall 2021 Cover

This story was featured in the fall 2021 edition of CityScene magazine.

San Diego County has been a hub for new music for decades. From the pop-punk of Blink 182 to the blues and jazz of Tom Waits, San Diego has produced many noteworthy artists from a very large pool of eclectic talent over the years.

Recently, the once northern beachfront music scene has shifted away from where it started in San Diego and found a home just a bit more south.

“Around 2010, (the San Diego music scene) kinda died off, phased out,” Robert Martinez, a musician in the band Nite Lapse said. “I think with the rise of EDM. It was very sad. Virtually non-existent.”

Martinez remembered when people started going to clubs to experience music, instead of live shows. Around 2015, live music started to make a significant comeback, this time because of emerging artists from southern San Diego County. 

Martinez said around 2015, a band called Los Shadows started to “make moves” in the South Bay, and the music scene started to return to San Diego. Live shows began to make a comeback, and the music scene started to feel alive again. 

“I thought the San Diego music scene was dead, and they (Los Shadows) sort of brought it back single handedly,” Martinez said. “There’s a plethora right now of artists (in Chula Vista).” 

Nite Lapse performs on stage
Robert Martinez performs with his band “Nite Lapse” on stage. Photo courtesy of Michael Fowler.

Nite Lapse, the band Martinez plays for, is based in Chula Vista where these emerging artists have been exploding in recent years. They frequently play at two venues called Soda Bar and Music Box, which are in central San Diego. They are among some of the most popular venues for emerging artists to book their own shows. 

Although finding a venue as a new musician can be challenging, Martinez explained, as some are not free.

“Pay to Play” is a struggle these young bands and musicians are facing. Some venues charge the musicians to play at their locations and the artists have to sell enough tickets to hopefully make a little money themselves or at least break even.

Martinez said that in the past many bands started out with monetary backing, having a label or third party pay to produce shows and a team to book tours. Younger bands have a hard time breaking out going up against these other financially backed artists. 

Fritz Fayman, lead guitarist, songwriter and vocalist for a band called The Reckless, grew up in the San Diego area.

“I do know other bands have started performing live right on the beach just on their own,” Fayman said. 

Bonfires, bus stops and house parties are becoming the more popular venues for new music around San Diego. Sammy V. Miles, from the band The Miles, talked about his recent tour and performing at a few house parties in college areas.  

“First show we did coming back (from the pandemic) was a house party,” Miles said. “It was actually a lot of fun, the sound was good too. Definitely a different vibe from the more polished establishments, music venues. But we have played some great new places.”

Ada Ngozi plays bass guitar
Ada Ngozi, bass player for The Reckless, prepares for their weekly band practice. Photo by Marlena Harvey/City Times Media

“You have to find a way of managing time between your job and your passion, and maybe that means doing a job that pays less so you have more free time,” Fayman said. “I think the southern and eastern parts of the San Diego area are a much cheaper version of LA and new musicians can ease themselves into a slightly less crowded but still active music scene.”

As the beachfront northern communities of San Diego become more affluent and expensive, they become less accessible to artists who are just starting out Fayman explained. Artists who are beginning their careers have migrated south in order to afford living expenses and continue developing their art, leading to why most of the recent music coming out of San Diego has come from the South Bay.

As the south bay becomes the home for new artists in San Diego and the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions ease, these emerging musicians hope more venues will open up around South San Diego. For now, artists, musicians and bands will have to continue inventing their own stages in their backyards. 

To find out more or listen to Nite Lapse, click here

To find out more or listen to The Reckless, click here. 

To find out more or listen to The Miles, click here.