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By Alex Gallagher | April 27, 2021

The Color 8 is a Downtown Phoenix-based band whose sound is almost as diverse as its name.

“The ‘Color’ stands for diversity, and the ‘8’ stands for infinity” is what the musicians exclaim at shows.

Though the band thrives off the inclusiveness of its audience and its sound, The Color 8’s members have found they work extremely well individually.

Each musician’s social media account is updated with performance videos. However, promoting the band’s work is important — especially its covers.

“I try to cover stuff that I think I could put a cool twist on,” says guitarist Mikal “Kal” Benion.

“Sometimes I’ll hear a song and think of how cool it would sound with a guitar on it, and other times I’ll just like the sound of a guitar on a song.”

Vocalist/saxophonist Ashton Vaughn “The Dapper Rapper” Charles adds, “We all like doing covers, but Kal’s been the most consistent over the past few years when it comes to putting stuff out like that. It’s helped him out significantly, as you can see by his strong following on Instagram.”

Charles amassed over 41,000 followers on TikTok in the two weeks since he began creating content of him playing his saxophone to songs ranging from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to “Naughty Girl” by Beyoncé.

The goal of the covers is to offer fans a glimpse of the individual musicians.

“Outside the covers, we just really like showing our personalities,” says drummer Emmett “E Nash” Ray.

“It gives us an opportunity for people to see how different we are and how well we mesh. As a fan, you become a huge fan of an artist because you feel you relate to them on some level. I think that comes out for us in our content that we put out.”

A Phoenix College alumnus, Ray describes how the band used to do a web series called “The Content Show,” during which it filmed itself playing a game of Jenga. That allowed the musicians to explore their individual personalities and share their banter and humor with one another.

“The thing that makes these videos cool is we’re all having fun with what we do,” Charles says.

The Color 8 has scored awards for the work it has done. Benion and Ray have won several competitions on influencer Jacob Unterreiner’s Instagram page.

“I’m always honored anytime I get any kind of recognition,” Ray says. “I think these accolades are beneficial to our story, but overall, it’s just cool to be recognized.”

When it comes to being judged, Charles offers contestants this simple piece of advice.

“In any form of artistry that’s judged, you’re being judged based on something that is very much subjective,” Charles says.

“When they get to a space where they win a competition based on musical talent, it is not just that; it’s knowing that people enjoy watching you do what you do so much that they feel that they can put you at the top of their list of people they enjoy watching, listening to and experiencing. To be awarded in a subjective category is the highest honor when it comes to anything like that.

“Music in any art and in any form is always subjective. To know all these different perspectives collectively agree that this person has done such a good job, it’s a very beautiful sentiment.”

In between creating content for socials, The Color 8 has been working on a new EP and plans to soon release the song, “Twerked On,” which is a departure from its last singles.

“It’s a different vibe compared to anything we’ve done so far. This song will actually have some production on it. All of our songs have been live instruments,” Ray says.

“Our last project was more of a mixture of things, but on this next EP it’s going to be more R&B, soulful and fun with a live sound.”

Charles says the three- to five-song EP will be released sometime over the summer.

The band also plans to play a socially distanced concert within the coming months at the Herberger Theater Center’s amphitheater. That would mark the first time it has played in Downtown Phoenix since the pandemic shut down The Color 8’s monthly gig at First Fridays.

Fans can expect new content throughout the year to keep up with demand.

“We’ve got some pretty big collaborations moving forward, which we’re really excited about, and some exclusive content for our fans,” Ray says. “We’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes business work during quarantine so that when everything opens back up we can take over.”

The Color 8