The Couch Series: Where creativity comes to rest

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Chris Bennion, of Coral Bones, performs “Platonia” for a March music episode of “The Couch Series.” (Photo by Kristina Smith)

The audience of four sat paralyzed. They remained still, ensuring they didn’t cause background noise during the video recording. But they also sat still because of the blue-eyed boy. He arrested their attention.

He sat casually on the couch. He elicited a soothing melody from his keyboard and opened his mouth. His lips shaped simple, piercing melodies as he wove in and out of falsetto with ease. He held the audience in the palm of his hand. They remained transfixed until the end, when they took a moment to venerate the near-sacred feeling in the room before applauding.

What transpired that night would constitute another weekly music segment for “The Couch Series.” Co-founders Nicolle Okoren and Eden Wen created “The Couch Series” last November to highlight Provo talent and promote well-crafted art. “The Couch Series” maintains a blog as it releases weekly music segments and monthly interviews on YouTube.

“The purpose of our music episodes is to showcase talent in its purest form,” said Wen, “Couch Series” producer and BYU public relations student.

“The Couch Series” team keeps things simple with its videos: the music episodes feature artists performing on a living room couch, their sound live and untouched.

“I just love music: the mistakes, the eye contact, the feeling of the bass in your bones,” said Okoren, “Couch Series” host and BYU graduate. “The best thing is when we have an artist we don’t really know and they play something that completely transforms the room we are in and sucks us into everything they are.”

“The Couch Series” was born from Okoren’s passion for music, Wen’s entrepreneurial spirit and their mutual admiration for the artistry found in Provo.

“So we teamed up and made it happen,” Okoren said. “What we want to happen, I guess, is for it to be like a weird cyber home for Provo music. You know, like a specific place of documentation for the musical evolution of Provo.”

Videographer Jonathan Ying acknowledged initial growing pains for “The Couch Series,” like a lack of a professional camera and proper lighting equipment. But Ying has since purchased his own camera and obtained metal lighting fixtures, bright bulbs and parchment paper to diffuse light. All these investments have improved the quality of the videos.

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Videographer Jonathan Ying arranges equipment as Stuart Wheeler of Sun House prepares to play “Death Letter.” (Photo by Kristina Smith)

Some famous YouTubers fill their videos with ego and a sharp focus on the individuals who created it. But Wen and Okoren hope to avoid this, instead serving as facilitators to showcase the talent of others.

“In the beginning, we had a lot of ideas,” Wen said. “But then, it just came down to the point that it shouldn’t be about us as much. And that’s why we started doing the weekly music segments with just the artists.”

Okoren said keeping the focus on the artists will provide a smooth transition if “The Couch Series” ownership changes in the future.

“Honestly, this was never about us,” Okoren said. “We’re highlighting the music, not ourselves. If this is all about me, I can never leave! If it’s about the musicians, then the people who might take over after us will be able to keep it about the musicians, seamlessly.”

“The Couch Series” team will host its first public concert at the end of April, a tradition they hope to continue throughout spring and summer.

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