From The Velvet Underground’s one-of-a-kind experimentalism in the realm of post-modern rock to Biggie Smalls’s iconic flow, New York remains the birthplace of countless musical genres and the industry’s most pivotal superstars. But in a city that offers hundreds of entertainment options every night, where can concert-lovers even start? Chart dominators may make appearances on the island daily, but where is the passion and fervor that elevated major genres like hip-hop from the streets of New York City to mainstream culture? The answer is Seneca’s Village.
As an ode to his son and the historical Seneca Village of New York City, Frantz Cayo established Seneca’s Village in 2020 to “showcase the best in independent alternative Gen-Z culture in NYC.” As part of the collective, young artists collaborate to conduct a series of concerts and festivals throughout New York City displaying the most noteworthy up-and-coming musicians, artists, photographers, and more.
While many modern industry observers argue that the once-flourishing underground music scene is facing a terminal decline, Cayo emphasizes, “Culture is still created and still a movement in New York, and it’s this youthful audience, basically 16 to 25, that’s creating it. I wanted to tap into that and give them an opportunity to be able to display their culture, their art, their music to the world”. The organization is entirely Gen-Z based, offering opportunities for people interested in production, photography, media, music, gaming, fashion, and art. Simultaneously, Seneca’s Village encourages performers to foster their own creativity while scratching the itch for concert-lovers looking for a more intimate, transformative concert experience.
The oversaturated commercial music industry in New York City often poses a threat to talented young individuals with powerful narratives to share. Though Manhattan is regarded as a vehicle to fame in itself, many young artists find it difficult to gain footing in the early steps of their careers. However, Seneca’s Village combats the commonly abrasive nature of the professional industry by prioritizing a sense of community that is outstandingly unique and true to the root of a proper cultural movement. An explosive synergy between fiery performers and audience members manifests through a common ground of experimental self-expression and categorizes Seneca’s Village as a genuine New York treasure. Cayo dissects his initiative to create a safe space for fearless, creative transparency: “We wanted it to be a village concept because we wanted to grow a community of artists, a collective of artists, and allow them each to build each other up… It makes sense for them to be out there together.”
After attending a Seneca’s Village production, FIT student and aspiring fashion designer, Grace Hagner, marveled, “Seeing everyone doing what they love was really empowering. Being there made me realize that the best way to find inspiration for myself was to look around at the people who are in the same boat creatively… At the end of the day, we are the ones setting the trends.”
Seneca’s Village predecessors, in the sphere of cultural youth movements such as Riot Grrrl and the Bedroom Pop Era, demonstrate that the future of culture lies in the hands of determined young individuals. As New Yorkers, opening our hearts to local artists is the most rewarding way to experience the city in its full capacity. It is up to the students, the visionaries, and the empowered to make a difference in the world– and what better way than through unforgettable guitar licks and heart-stirring art? To offer a taste of all of the love this collective has to give, Seneca’s Village is conducting a day-long festival at the Coney Island Art Wall. The event will take place on June 9, 2022, with open mic opportunities and plenty of live music, art, games, and brilliant people. For more information on how to join the village and connect with local artists, follow @SenecasVillage on Instagram.