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How a fire-themed exhibit at USU's art museum inspired this musician

Musician Houston Guy, also known as Malfunkn, shares his inspiration for songs and how the “Facing Fire” exhibit at USU's Nora Eccles Harrison Museum spoke to him.

When he was about 14 years old, Houston Guy started music on stand-up bass and then eventually found his way to synthesizers and electronic music. Guy attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and studied film composition for music. Guy then worked in Los Angeles for 18 years in film and audio.

After COVID-19, Guy found himself in Logan, where he continued his passions of music and art.

He enjoys going to art galleries to gain insight for his music.

“I lived in Los Angeles for a long time. But I lived downtown during the great art boom of 2007 and 2008. And since then, downtown has kind of blown up. So it was a big part of my life, visiting galleries and exhibits in the warehouse district in downtown LA. So that was extremely inspirational,” Guy said.

One of Guy’s favorite spots is the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum. After hearing about the “Facing Fire” exhibit taking place there this summer, he visited and said it was heavy.

“Well, just out the gate when you walk in, the photography right when you get there is really incredible. I barely made it through the first room without cutting onions. But no, the whole thing is a really good exhibit. It's it's actually my favorite exhibit they've had at the museum,” Guy said.

This exhibit inspired Guy to write “Embers” which symbolizes fire and climate change.

“So it's kind of the beginning of a fire. So it starts pretty calm. And then there's kind of a false ending to it, because I wanted this tension to ramp up at the end, because the issue we're facing with climate change and these fires is omnipresent. It's just forever growing. You think it's it's easy to forget about, but it's always there, and it's getting worse and worse,” Guy said.

Guy traditionally plays everything live. But lately, he’s spending more time in the studio.

You can see Malfunkn play live on Sept. 8, at Willow Park in Logan, and again at the fire panel reception on Sept. 16.

Hannah Castro is a junior at Utah State University studying Journalism and Public relations. Her parents were born and raised in Ecuador and migrated to the States before she was born. Hannah loves all things music and usually has a concert lined up. She enjoys being active, and recently ran her first half marathon in Salt Lake City. Hannah enjoys writing and can’t wait to further her skills at Utah Public Radio.