Log In

Reset Password
Columnists View from the Center Bear Smart The Travel Troubleshooter Dear Abby Student Aide Of Sound Mind Others Say Powerful solutions You are What You Eat Out Standing in the Fields What's up in Durango Skies Watch Yore Topknot Local First RE-4 Education Update MECC Cares for kids

Taylor Neal, a DIY musician

Music is important. That’s a general statement that many could and would agree with, but for people like Taylor Neal, it’s a belief that resonates down to their core. Yes, it’s something that you listen to that will help kill the time while stuck in traffic, but for someone like Neal, it’s something to listen to for therapy, to educate and entertain, and to create.

Neal is a Fort Lewis College alumn who is also a DIY musician making music under the name “astrodamus.”

Her path to music started with her dad, who was a DJ in Southeast Alaska. Like father like kid, when Neal came to Durango the “astrodamus.” identity as born when she started DJ’ing on local college radio KDUR.

“His DJ name was ‘Starchild.’ I grew up listening to cassette tapes he had from the late ’90s and early 2000s, when he was doing his radio sets. So, I’ve always been really intrigued by outer space and marine life, but also science and history,” Neal said. “When I was coming up with a name, I knew I wanted it to be related to space and the stars and things like that, and ‘astrodamus.’ came to mind, so I rolled with it. It feels really natural, and after working in radio, I kind of got better at recording my own music. It gave me a lot of confidence with trusting my own sound and my own self, which is nice because part of the artistry is understanding the process of recording and releasing recordings, in addition to live performances.”

For many who dig into music as more than just something to kill time, sound and genre classification is sometimes looked at as a futile exercise. There’s good music and bad music, and that’s that. Neal describes her music as “grunge,” which leaves interpretation wide open for her as the artist and for those who listen.

Neal has released multiple EPs and singles under the name astrodamus., including the 2023 album titled “Be Free.” It’s beautifully raw and underproduced, a lo-fi offering that’s honest and real, a record that walks a line between quiet indie-rock and psychedelic folk where the vocals are drenched in reverb.

This June will see the release of another astrodamus. record, titled “The Phantom Of ...” Streaming services are already spinning the single off the forthcoming record titled “Bruce Wayne,” which is more of Neal’s brand of dark, folkie-grunge.

“This project has some songs that I worked on for years, and then some things that I wrote this past time I was in Durango, last winter. And those songs, they just kind of came about while I was practicing guitar, and I just would record whatever the little ideas were that came, like the chord progression and lyrics,” she said. “And I feel really excited with what I had, but I didn’t know if they could use more time or not, so I tried to be really patient with just revisiting the ideas that came about.”

Currently, Neal as astrodamus. is navigating the waters of becoming a professional musician, while also studying for a Masters of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law. If being a professional musician was an easy and a reliable way to make a living, then anyone who ever played air guitar in front of a mirror or noodled around on a guitar would have gone down that path. Reality, however, dictates otherwise, which is fine for Neal. She’ll continue to make music, whether they are singles, EPs or full-length albums, and if music pays the rent great; otherwise she has her other work to fall back on.

“I hope that I’ll be able to make a living with music, but if not, I’ve got the other work that I do and dedicate myself to,” she said. “I feel like that work will still give me space as an artist.”

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.