Ten Musical Projects Ikey Owens Made Great

Ikey Owens on October 11 in Mexico City, performing with Jack White. More photos here.
Ikey Owens on October 11 in Mexico City, performing with Jack White. More photos here.

When Isaiah "Ikey" Owens passed away last week, the musician and producer left behind a massive legacy. Most recently the Long Beach, California native was on tour playing keyboards and piano with Jack White -- but he was also a member and founder of Free Moral Agents and was known for his role in seminal rock group the Mars Volta. Beyond his big time projects, Owens had also produced and played on dozens of records in his career, including maintaining a strong Denver connection that had him producing and playing on Rubedo's first two records, as well as being an active member of the band (Owens and Rubedo also formed Double Ply Translucent Caterpillar, a group that featured a rotating cast of musicians and most notably played at the Denver Art Museum for Nick Cave's Soundsuit performance last year.) He had also worked on Holophrase's 2012 album and had just finished up tracks for Wheelchair Sport Camp's forthcoming record, as well as a gear collaboration with local pedal makers Mantic Conceptual.

But still, there was so much more -- Owens had been an integral part of the third wave ska revival in the '90s, worked with hip-hop, noise and R&B artists, toured the world with pivotal rock acts, all while continuing to play with and produce up-and-coming bands. His resume is pages long, but we've compiled just ten of the pieces of music you may not know Ikey Owens contributed to for your listening pleasure.

See also: Denver Musicians Pay Tribute to Ikey Owens: "His Voice Screamed Through the Keyboard"

Piano on Saul Williams's "Black Stacey" from Saul Williams, 2004, Fader Owens played keys on this 2004 Saul Williams track, an instrument that dominates almost as much as Williams' own voice. Owens also plays on "DNA" off of 2007's The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!, a collaborative effort on Williams's part with Trent Reznor. Williams was also friends with At The Drive-In, who went on to become the Mars Volta -- of which Owens was also a member -- and opened for the band on a leg of its 2003 tour.

Producer on Gravy Train!!!!'s Hello Doctor, 2003, Kill Rock Stars Before Seth Bogart a.k.a. Hunx of Hunx & His Punx branched off and became the Hardly Art superstar he is now, he was in an early 2000s electro pop group Gravy Train!!!! The Oakland group recorded its first full-length, Hello Doctor, with Ikey Owens. It's a raunchy, sexed-up dance record with a dirty sound that speaks to Owens's versatility as a producer.

Keyboards on Free The Robots's "The Eye" from Ctrl Alt Delete, 2010, Alpha Pup Records Another example of Owens's unmistakable playing style, this Free the Robots track gives way to the organic and wild sound he was able to bring out of any keyboard. Free the Robots is of Low End Theory fame, a Los Angeles club night that has birthed a diverse scene of musicianship including big names like Flying Lotus and Daedalus.

Owens was often spotted at Low End Theory, also collaborating with resident DJs Nobody and Nocando, and playing the Wednesday night party with his own band, Free Moral Agents and Crystal Antlers -- a band Owens has played with and produced since the Long Beach group's early days.

Producer on multiple Crystal Antlers recordings, including Crystal Antlers EP, 2008, Touch and Go Crystal Antlers hail from Owens's hometown of Long Beach, where he was an active member of the music scene and lifelong resident (until just earlier this year when he moved to Nashville.) Owens was not only a producer on Crystal Antlers's recorded work, he was often a member, playing shows and jumping on tours with the band.

Member and co-founder of Look Daggers A veritable Long Beach supergroup, Owens helmed this hip-hop band with Los Angeles MC legend 2Mex. Though the two were incredibly busy with so many projects, they found time to cultivate a following and multiple recordings.



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