Duo ‘1984’ makes political statements through music

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Josh Sartain and Bryan Winn make up the Stockton-based band 1984. Photo courtesy of Josh Sartain and Bryan Winn.

A duo of former Delta College students hope their new band will make a mark on the vibrant art and culture scene in Stockton.

Josh Sartain and Bryan Winn formed 1984, an electronic/alternative band, and released their first two singles, “War is Peace” and “Wrongspeak,” on iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud and YouTube in late January.

Sartain and Winn met through a chance encounter when Winn appeared as a guest on an episode of “The Artist Hour,” a podcast Sartain hosted with his friend.

Winn was a member of a band named Puzzled at the time, but was looking to explore another genre of music.

“When I went on the podcast, we clicked and we knew that we had a similar sound in music and a similar style,” Winn said.

Sartain said he knew there was potential for a fruitful partnership with Winn.

“After that episode, I was like, ‘Hey, we should link up and talk music,’” Sartain said. “I was doing my own thing as well, music wise, so we met up, we talked, and that’s when we both had the idea to start something together.”

The two shared a unique vision for the type of music they wanted to produce.

“Bryan wanted to create music about political themes, how he was feeling. I kind of had the same idea, but wanted to make something that sounded different from my previous band,” Sartain said.

The band was established the week after the storming of the United States Capitol on Jan. 6.

Winn was in Washington, D.C. for the protests at Capitol Hill. He said he felt the need to write music addressing the current political climate after witnessing the event.

Winn said the songs he wrote after returning home from D.C., “War is Peace” and “Wrongspeak,” were the quickest songs he had ever produced.

“Wrongspeak” touches on the First Amendment and freedom of speech, a right Winn feels particularly passionate about.

“We want to uphold these fundamental American values that we treasure so much and with the freedom of speech, that’s such an important thing and it’s very important for Americans,” Winn said. “When the government infringes on people’s right to freedom of speech, they’re abusing their power.”

While Winn said 1984 aims to make political statements, the band doesn’t promote conservative or liberal ideas.

“It’s not about right or left,” Winn said. “It’s about individualism and liberty.”

Winn said his biggest goal as an artist is to encourage his listeners to “seek out the ultimate truth.”

“We want to shed light on issues, and shed light on how the media likes to manipulate stories and manipulate the public narrative,” Winn said. “We want to encourage people to open up their minds about that a little bit and to start thinking, ‘What’s the bias of this article?’”

The band’s name was inspired by the classic dystopian novel “1984” by George Orwell, which explores truth and facts within politics and how truth and facts can be manipulated.

Sartain said he thought of naming the band 1984 after spotting the novel on Winn’s desk.

“It goes hand in hand with the political messages we’re trying to send and fits perfectly,” Sartain said. “If you’ve read the book, you understand the hidden meaning behind the name.”

Like the classic novel, Sartain said the band is planning to build a world and create a story that is told over the course of an album, which will be produced this year.

“We want to get really conceptual with it,” Winn said.

Sartain said he hopes that 1984’s message reaches a large audience.

“There’s so many things we can do with this project that I’m looking forward to,” Sartain said. “I just want a lot of people to hear our music. Eventually I want to go out on the road and play shows, but right now we’re trying to get our name out because we’re starting from the ground up.”