Battle of the Band winners ‘The Move’ to open at Frost Fest 2024

From its very fresh beginnings, The Move has always been on the move. With their seasoned instrumentalists and experimental “20-minute jazz standard sessions,” the student band is rising to the spotlight within the Stanford music scene, winning this quarter’s Battle of the Bands and the candidacy to open for guest performers at Frost Fest 2024 on May 18.

The seven-man-band has quickly made a name for itself with its mash-up of jazz and pop, featuring bassist Archish Arun ’26, drummer Jonathan Martinez ’27, saxophonists Quinn Simmons ’27 and Ethan Htun ’27, pianist Haohan Wu ’27, guitarist Ryota Sato ’27 and frontman vocalist Jackson McCormick ’27.

The band’s path to formation was equally as expeditious, forming in weeks one and two of last autumn quarter, though the members’ roots in music-making stem deeper than college.

“I played a lot of jazz and knew a lot of jazz players growing up.” Sato said. “And then Archish said he’s transferring to Stanford and [we] really wanted to start a band. From there, it was really fast paced — we just figured out there were a lot of really good jazz players, specifically at Stanford, who really want to play pop music.”  

The group said their early head start enabled them to take their time in developing their groove and image as a band, with each quarter serving as a “phase” in their cumulative trajectory. 

“Autumn quarter was getting to know each other, just musically working with Jackson and each other as a lot of us haven’t played in groups with a singer,” Arun said. “Phase two and winter was trying to build a brand and an identity as a band, as we did our first gigs in winter as well. Spring, so far, is visibility, like how do we get as much traction on campus?”

The Move recently performed during Admit Weekend during “The Move on the Move,” where band members paraded around campus with the prospective students. The event also featured two other student bands, Six of Spades and Peach Fuzz, coming together to offer a memorable live music experience. 

Arun said that The Move’s performance was inspired by the energy that Htun and Sato experienced at their own Admit Weekends, which they hoped to emulate for this year’s prospective students.

Even as the ensemble seeks to emulate the performing spirit of preceding student bands, they place emphasis on the music itself. This “music first” mindset has formulated and maximized the band’s unique sound as influenced by each student’s personal music background. 

“There’s a lot of spontaneity and improv and we play through it,” Arun said. “There are aspects of jazz but there are also elements of funk and Jackson’s got a lot of gospel and soul in his voice as well. Considering how short our tenure as a band has been, I like to think we have such a clear identity of what we do.”

The ensemble also takes inspiration from distinctive, spontaneous bands like Vulfpeck and their unique approach within the funk realm in building an individually in-tune and solid identity.

“[Vulfpeck] doesn’t rehearse. They’ve played with each other for so long, just on recording sessions and those kinds of things, but they just show up to a gig and there’s a guy who has a Mission Control mic, and he’s just telling them onstage what to do,” Arun said. 

The band’s infusion of funk, jazz and pop music also represents something bigger — a reconciliation between the group’s classical taste for jazz and their goal to relate to and have fun with the audience through better-known pop tunes.

“Jazz is regrettably a bit obscure, so it’s fun just sharing these experiences of playing songs that your friends know, that your mom knows and that your siblings know,” Htun said. 

The Move hopes to foster appreciation of new, innovative music with the motto of “bringing soul back to Stanford.” To do so, band members aim to highlight their personal value of the technical complexities behind making music rather than just how loud or stimulating their performance is. 

“I’d rather [have] somebody be reacting to how I sound than to the intensity of how I’m playing,” McCormick said. “I’d rather have somebody be like ‘how did they just do that?’”

Reflecting on their music journey, The Move hopes to expand their gigs while commemorating their old ones.

“One of our best shows was at the Brick and Mortar in San Francisco,” Arun said.

“Get yourself a Filipino burrito [there],” McCormick added. He said that the band’s obscure yet delicious food-find helped the group further bond, connect and celebrate with each other post-show. 

Looking ahead, the band is excited and grateful to take the stage at Frost, hoping that people continue coming to music events to keep Stanford’s music scene alive.  

“For us to be achieving this gig after only a few months of being a band feels surreal, but it’s a testament to how the band scene and support system here is thriving,” Arun said.