NJIT second-year Eli Nutt, better known as physi, has been creating ambient music since 2018. Her first album, “Fog Body”, was released in November 2020 while physi was still attending high school in Alabama. Her most recent release, “love, from the trees and the sun”, debuted on Apr. 8 and marks a significant step forward in musical growth.
“The first one was a lot hazier overall,” physi noted. “This one is a lot cleaner. They’re both ambient, but that’s a very large genre name.”
Ambient music got its start in the early 1900s with artists creating what was then known as “furniture music”, serving to add to conversation rather than be the focus of an event. Throughout the years it became known as ambient music, never achieving commercial success but playing gently in the annals of music. The genre has seen a resurgence in popularity over the last five years. Lofi Girl’s “lofi hip hop radio”, a 24/7 live stream on YouTube with tens of thousands of active listeners at any given moment, helped to reintroduce the genre.
Though Brian Eno coined the phrase “ambient music”, the genre can take on different meanings to each listener. Physi sees it as a way to connect with herself. “It’s very focused on meditative and calming things,” she said. “The best way to get that across with music is through a slow… loop-based melody.”
Physi isn’t alone in using this genre to both disconnect and connect. While theories about listening to music to assist in meditation and studying have existed for decades, one recent study by Janina Lehmann and Tina Seufert sheds light on the truth behind the music. Music might not provide you with superhuman memorization, but it was shown to increase both comprehension and memory capacity in an Ulm University study. The calming effect of music has been well documented as well.
“Ambient music is a way for me to phrase things that are going on in my life,” physi said. “It’s a way for me to slow down and remind myself to take a breath.”
Without lyrics, how you feel and what you take away from ambient music is entirely up to you. That’s exactly the point physi wants to make. Physi doesn’t want you to feel what she felt, but to be able to interpret it yourself. “I know and have a vision for what my albums were about, but when it’s instrumental you can connect with it on a different level than I meant it when I wrote it.”
Each of the nine beautifully composed tracks takes you through your own journey. Fans can stream physi’s music through Spotify at https://sptfy.com/physi and download her entire discography through bandcamp at: https://physi.bandcamp.com/. She also hosts a regular show on WJTB every Monday from 6:30-7:30 p.m., which streams online at https://wjtb.njit.edu/stream.