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An Inside Look at SWFL’s Indie Music Scene 

Julianna Perez
Roxx Revolt and The Velvets

From alternative rap to punk rock, Southwest Florida’s indie music industry has been experiencing a boom.

After the diminishing impact that COVID-19 had on the community, musicians and venue owners alike have begun to embrace the music scene once again, opening the doors for new artists and encouraging the blurring of genre lines. The result? A musical renaissance-esque revival of a community that was once struggling to maintain its presence. 

One of the artists rising onto this scene is FGCU Sophomore Ayden Viera. Going by the stage name LUVXR, Viera has released a series of alternative rap/pop singles, with the most recent one ‘out of reach’ having dropped in July of 2023. 

Ayden Viera (Nikki Calderon)

Originally from South Bronx, New York, Viera grew up surrounded by music. He draws inspiration from his father, a 2010s Latin Hip Hop and Reggaeton artist, despite the two creating distinctly different styles of music. 

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Viera started seriously pursuing music when he was a high school senior. Throughout his freshman year at FGCU, Viera continued creating original music out of the comfort of his dorm room, eventually forming connections with other players in the industry and moving his operation to recording studios in the area. 

“If there’s ever a time when they’re busy, I still make music at my dorm. That hasn’t stopped. It almost feels more intimate when I do it there,” Viera said. 

One of those connections was FGCU sophomore Wismandrace Die. Die, known on the scene as Sway, is currently one of the main music producers consulting on Viera’s pieces. Die has collaborated with a number of artists within the community and emphasizes the importance of outreach. 

“People think it’s just dropping music and hopefully it works, right? But it’s also marketing, understanding how things work and how to reach an audience you’ve never reached before. If you don’t understand the business side of it, you will never really get to where you need to be,” Die said. 

Another artist making their name in the Southwest Florida music industry is 21-year-old musician Lazaro Lopez. Lopez’s music is heavily inspired by reggaeton, trap and R&B. He sings only in Spanish. 

Lazaro Lopez (Gabriel Alcaraz)

Under the artist name Karell, Lopez has dropped several singles and an extended play (EP). Lopez worked as a writer with First Order Music Group but continues to grow his platform and release his work as an independent artist. 

“It’s hard to grow as an independent artist because you have to make people like you more than their favorite artist. You gotta make sure that, if you want to sound like them, you have to record like them.” Lopez said. 

Lopez manages most of the work that goes into his brand, including marketing and promotion. Lopez commented on the difficulties of getting your start as an independent musician without the financial backing and support that signed artists receive. 

“The labels control everything. Back then they used to control sales and CDs, but now there are things like playlisting. In order for you to get a song on something like an official Spotify playlist, it can take thousands.” Lopez said.

An up-and-coming band in the SWFL’s punk rock scene is Roxx Revolt and the Velvets, fronted by lead singer Roxette Barrios, bassist Dan Heath, guitarist Jake Shockley and drummer Chris Campo. 

First established in 2018, the band has continued to make waves and reach audiences outside of Southwest Florida. The band has rocked venues across the country, such as the Whiskey a Go Go in Los Angeles and Tampa’s Gasparilla Music Festival. 

“When you start playing locally it’s cool, but once you start seeing other people that you don’t know but are there to see your band, it adds a layer of reality, like we might have a chance,” Barrios said. “Even if you’re traveling like five or six hours out, you’re in a completely different place. You feel inspired to do more stuff and see where it takes you.”

“It makes it feel more real, it’s a completely different perspective,” Campo said. 

On a local level, Roxx Revolt and the Velvets have witnessed a change in their experiences playing venues in the area. 

“We’ve been around for five years now and we’ve seen the growth, which has been kind of cool. It’s not just artists either, we’ve seen venues pop up too.” Shockley said. 

“The same venues we’ve played throughout the years are being expanded. They’re getting better sound systems and better stages. They’re treating artists better. There’s been like a cultural shift towards original music,” Barrios said. 

“COVID killed a lot of good bands, unfortunately, but now that all of these venues are opening back up, we’re starting to see more original shows which I think is awesome. That fosters these original bands to grow because, you’re not going to start a band if you have nowhere to play, right?” Heath said. 

Following the release of their first album “Turn Your Head This Way” in May of 2023, the band continued to perform in different venues across the state. Most recently, the band returned to their roots and played a special Halloween show at The Burrow in Naples, Florida.

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