Going from playing saxophone in a small town marching band to creating his own instruments to be a one-man band, Onyx Ashanti has brought science fiction to life with ‘beatjazz’ — his term for his concoction of beat-driven, jazz and improvisation-informed experimental electronic music.

Using self-built electronics — a system that he’s constantly building upon — his first beatjazz controller was a three-way wireless network called the “exo- voice” worn on his hands and head, played not unlike a saxophone with a mouth unit, but with the freedom to move his hands in any direction. Incorporating gestural controls, color codes for different musical elements, CAD (computer aided design) and 3D printing, Ashanti’s music is just as rewarding to listen to as it is to watch him perform or to investigate his methods for making it.While one can easily place him in an afro-futurist lineage with the likes of Sun Ra, George Clinton or Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, it’s safe to say that Ashanti is one of a kind. Thrillingly inventive both as a DIY electronics builder and a musician, he credits modern technology and the open sourced, shared information of the internet in really allowing his work to flourish outside of the constraints of traditional instruments.