Onyx Ashanti is a programmer, musician and inventor of the Sonocyb, a continually evolving, malleable interface of prosthetic synthesizer controllers that Onyx uses to articulate electronic sound in conjunction with bodily motion.
Growing up playing jazz saxophone in rural Mississippi, Onyx was swept up by rave culture in the 1990s and transitioned to playing wind controller. He collaborated with Marshall Jefferson and Soul II Soul, performing in nightclubs around the world. Onyx’s creative curiosity led him to develop the Beatjazz controller as a music-making device for hands and mouth.
Studies of cybernetics and an epiphanic discovery of free jazz ushered in his current devotion to Sonocybernetics.
Onyx uses the construct of Sonocybernetics to feed sonic and technological questions into a network of perpetual self-programming. Calling himself a “patternist” after the work of Afrofuturist science-fiction writer Octavia Butler, Onyx believes in the potential of granular sound to herald a new age of communication. Using the Sonocyb, Onyx translates the gestural body language of his hands, feet, and head into fractal emissions of synthesized sound reminiscent, at times, of the more eccentric, privately released strains of late ’70s and early ’80s French musique concrète.