Hello My Name Is…A Born Idler, Citay and Aphex Twin

Back in the 1700’s and 1800’s, before people listened to good music, bands had really stupid names like Ludwig van Beethoven and J.S. Bach. Now bands have awesome names like Black Moth Super Wolf Bear Parade Dice. But sometimes these names are so awesome that nobody can even figure out what they mean (which is, of course, awesome). That’s where we come in. On this week’s edition of HMNI, we’ve got band name stories from DC trio A Born Idler, San Francisco psych-rockers Citay, and the godfather of electronica, Aphex Twin.

A Born Idler

Georgetown might be known for popped collars and Future Senators, but nobody quite expected it to produce an awesome band. Enter A Born Idler, the indie rock triumvirate of Danny Murphy, Sean Croft, and O.W. Bussey, three kids making enough noise for thirty. So far they’ve released an EP entitled You Will Be Destroyed, featuring the gloriously anthemic “Uh Oh” (now available for download on RCRD LBL). But why call themselves A Born Idler? Danny explains:

“The band had been beating around its instruments for a while and it was time to give the racket a name. We had no clue about what to name it. We had a very brief infatuation with a joke band name involving The Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. But that didn’t hold. So, we set out compiling lists of words and phrases we liked. I was reading James Joyce’s ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ – a book I don’t particularly enjoy – when a scene of an Irish schoolteacher chastising his mischievous students caught my eye. He called one ‘a born idler’ and the phrase instantly developed in my mind. For me, it provided a vivid mental image with a strong tone. At the same time, the ‘a’ in the phrase lent the image to generality and broader applicability. In other words, I liked how the phrase was its own entity, an uncommon phrase that was something in itself, as well as simply one of many and not fully defined, an ‘a’ and not a ‘the.’ That’s a lot of words spent to say I liked it and the rest of the band did too. And it seemed to play off our racket well. So, there it is. We got it from an overhyped, pretentious book.”


Problem: you desperately want to relive the acid-soaked 1960s, but you’re stuck in 2009 with no drugs and a strange aversion to The Polyphonic Spree. Where can you find some good psychedelic rock? San Francisco’s Citay has you covered. Ezra Feinberg and friends craft deliciously trippy pop-rock jams like the last 40 years never happened, coating their buoyant songs with a gleaming mix of LSD and sunshine. But what does “Citay” even mean? Ezra clears it up:

“The name Citay comes from a mix tape I made a long time ago which included songs in which the word ‘City’ is sung as ‘Citay.’ Stevie Wonder’s ‘Living for the City,’ Foghat’s ‘Fool for the City,’  and Journey’s ‘Lights’ are a few. I liked the idea of naming the band after a word that only appears in songs, or only appears when someone sings it.”

Aphex Twin

Citay’s music might be able to take you back forty years, but with Aphex Twin, it’s more like 2049. A pioneer in the genre of electronic music, Aphex Twin cemented his reputation in the 1990s with a string of landmark releases, including 1992’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92 and 1997’s Come to Daddy EP (featuring the mind-bending “Bucephalus Bouncing Ball”). Plus, the dude apparently owns a tank. Awesome.

But what does the cryptic “Aphex Twin” mean? While some people think “Aphex” is a nod towards the acid qualities of his music (A is for acid, ph is for pH?), the first half of the name is actually a reference to Aphex Systems Limited, a producer of audio signal processing gear. As for the “twin,” it’s a tribute to James’ older brother (also named Richard James) who died at birth.

-Matt D.

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