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Media arts and sciences grad: ‘I am capable of doing what I previously thought was unthinkable’

Local music artist Bailey Pyritz graduates with media arts and sciences degree

Self-portrait of Bailey Pyritz in foreground, fuchsia bougainvillea blooms in background

Photo courtesy Bailey Pyritz

April 27, 2024

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates.

Bailey Pyritz, known in the Valley’s local music scene as Kylo Gun, graduates this May with a Bachelor of Arts in media arts and sciences (music) from the School of Arts, Media and Engineering. 

“When I entered the media arts and sciences program, it was called digital Culture, and I honestly had no idea what that meant,” Pyritz said. “I remember people would ask me before I started school, ‘Oh, what does digital culture mean?’ and I was like, ‘I have no idea, I guess I'll find out!’” 

What theyPyritz uses they/them pronouns found out was that media arts and sciences gave them new opportunities.  

“Music has been my ultimate dream to pursue full time since I was a young teenager,” they said, “but luckily, through this major, I found several other passions and career options that I can pursue while also nourishing my music.”

Pyritz said now they plan to go into audio engineering while still pursuing music.

“At the moment, I am the audio engineer for ASU’s Center for Science and Imagination,” they said. “I feel like through that, I found something that I am good at and that’s a solid career option. I’m very thankful for the CSI team for giving me that opportunity; it’s something I will use to pursue audio engineering jobs in the future.”

Pyritz said Clinical Assistant Professor Seth Thorn was the one who shared the job opportunity with them, and one of the professors who taught them the most at ASU. 

“Seth is also a musician, and he incorporates music into his work with programming and sound design,” Pyritz said. “The lesson that that taught me was that I can combine my interests and find something that I’m ultra-passionate about to pursue. Now that I’ve completed this major, I have so many options and so many capabilities.”

Pyritz said Thorn’s circuit bending class was “a total game changer.”

“I think learning circuit bending equipped me for a lot of other things in the future because I can work with hardware, and it made me realize that I am capable of doing that,” they said. “I even built a guitar pedal for my final in the class. I remember how hard I worked on it and how stressed I was to get it done in time, but it ended up being really cool. The lesson that I walked away with from his classes was that I am capable of doing what I previously thought was unthinkable.”

Pyritz said in addition to the technical skills they learned while at ASU, the entire process behind creating their capstone project gave them confidence to move forward on their career path. 

“I knew I wanted to create a political piece of art in the form of an installation,” they said. “I lucked out since my friends Aidan White and Luke Bono were also in the class. Our collaboration helped create this beautiful idea and big concept.

"The idea was that when you walk into this room you walk into a cityscape, and the main part of our installation is supposed to represent a jumbotron that you would see in large cities. On that jumbotron, clips are playing of left-wing/right-wing biased news. A participant can control clips, soundscape and lighting to completely transform the scene.”

Since space is limited in ASU's Stauffer Gallery, Pyritz’s collaborative team had to negotiate with the facilities leaders to create the installation they envisioned. This hurdle became an opportunity for the team to prove themselves capable of producing a full-scale interactive installation. 

“We were motivated by the fact that they wanted us to scale it down … because we really wanted our full message to be carried with this installation,” Pyritz said. “Once they saw that we were capable of doing this, we gained their support. Going forward as a performer, this experience makes me believe in myself because I know if I wanted to pull off some large-scale project, that I could — and now I have the tools to fight for what I want in a performance space.”

Video courtesy Bailey Pyritz

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: Really it was the first class in this major that I took, which was Computational Thinking for Media Arts (AME 112) with Professor Kim Swisher. I believe that was the first class on the first day of college, and I was immediately amazed, because it was a class working with MaxMSP. I had never heard of Max before starting this major, and I was blown away by what it could do and how fun it was to interact with and build things with. It was this class that inspired me, because this one little program that I had never heard of could do so much. I worked with Max a lot in my other classes, and I found out that it was made by musicians for musicians, which makes sense because there's a lot of sound design elements in it, which is something I'm passionate about. I have done a lot of sound design working with Max in my college career. It's kind of a way of combining my interests of programming, which was this newfound love that I had when I started ASU, and music, which is my lifelong passion.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: When I was in high school, I didn't want to go to college at all, I've always been kind of a rebellious kid. When I was 14 or so, I had first heard of the concept of someone not going to college and still being successful, so I was like that's cool, maybe I'll just do that, and I have these big hopes of becoming an overnight sensation with my music and dropping out of school to go on tour and being this edgy teenager who's like famous or whatever.

It's very hard to gain that quick of success in music especially being a punk musician like I am or any type of alternative musician. My parents are both very educated and passionate about education and their child getting an education. When I was 17, they told me I had to go to college and that I didn't have a choice and me, being an angsty, rebellious teenager, was not excited about that at all.

I am close with my parents, so if there was any college that I would want to go to it would be locally so that I can visit them, and I don't have to be far away from them. Honestly, my parents forcing me to go to college was the best thing they've ever done because I had no idea at the time how much I would end up enjoying this and how much of myself I would end up finding here at ASU and in this major. It wasn’t necessarily my choice at first to go to ASU, but once I was enrolled, I was hooked. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: I would say, find your passion and put the pedal to the metal! I am lucky enough to have found passion within my major right away, and I think how inspired I was after every class made everything worth it and made my entire college experience worth it. I would say, if you don’t feel this joy in your heart about your major, maybe explore something else, especially when it comes to art majors. I think that for everyone, there’s a lot of options and things that we are capable of that they don't yet know. It’s never too late to try something new!

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? (For online students: What was your favorite spot for power studying?)

A: Definitely the secret garden! It feels like a magical little world in there. Every time I’ve been there, I feel like a little fairy frolicking in a forest. I think the flora and fauna and the garden are beautiful, and I feel like every time I go there, I discover a new flower, plant, cactus or tree to admire. When I was in capstone, I was there with my team, and we found a beautiful spot to brainstorm our project that gave us a great view of campus. That is one of my favorite memories in college so far.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Definitely homelessness. I feel like no one should be without a home and that housing is a basic human right. I think the U.S. government has the power to end homelessness in our country and has the budget to do that, especially because they already have been willing to go into so much debt for military supplies, so they are definitely capable of ending or at least severely decreasing homelessness. Especially here in Arizona, I think it’s very evident how tough the struggles are that these people face when it’s 115 degrees outside and they don’t have air conditioning or a roof over their head. So I think with the $40 million, providing housing is the first thing I would do.

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