Bill Le, AKA the Galactic Effect
Bill Le, AKA the Galactic Effect
Courtesy of the artist

The Galactic Effect's Bill Le Releases Song for Friend Who Committed Suicide

Beginning in his teen years, musician Bill Le, AKA the Galactic Effect, always had his best friend, Adrian Barona, to ground him. The two even dropped out of high school to live and record music together. They played shows together, shared instruments, and jammed together. Over the years, they lost touch from time to time, but they always reconnected. "I’d always ground my mind with him and our humor," Le, now age 25, says of his amazing friend. "Music was our bond."

This summer, Le borrowed instruments from Barona to write a song. Le quit in the middle and tried to drop off the instruments, but "Adrian insisted I take my time finishing this song." The next night, Le heard Barona had committed suicide. "We talked about depression and life quite a bit, but you’re never truly prepared for something like this," he says. "This tribute is the last thing I had his guidance on."

Le began playing guitar at 13 years old in "angsty metal" bands, but, he says, "I started opening my mind musically to the idea of working on things by myself." At 15, after seeing his uncle produce music, he decided to focus on that aspect of music-making. He started putting out songs under the name Dusthead, which evolved into Galactic Effect because, he says, "the sci-fi aesthetic better resembled where my sound was headed."

This past June, he wrapped his first LP, Seldom Wind, which he recorded largely in Iceland. He had always wanted to visit the island nation and found a cheap way to do it. So, in his two and a half weeks there, he finished the music and shot a video. "The trip was partially also a healing experience — I’ve struggled with depression on and off," he says. "I used to be on antidepressants but found no need for them anymore. Over the years, I’ve adapted new ways to deal with things. Meditation was a game changer, but it goes without saying that family, friends, and having purpose really helped me. Purpose is the big one. I do still deal with depression sometimes, but my friend passing has led me to appreciating the kinds of things we take for granted. We shared a lot of existential thoughts, but toward the end, we found escapism through music and long games of chess."

In his grief, Le threw himself into the song he began writing when Barona was alive. He wanted it to hit hard and broke from his usual electronic sound. "[It was] a bit emotional, bittersweet, yet relieving," he shares. Telekinetic Walrus' Y Diz helped Le engineer and record the track, and singer Mandy Mary Lane provided vocals.

"I wanted to capture the proper vocal emotion to lay over the instrumental parts... [Lane] came through to the studio and, after some whiskey, masterfully laid down the vocal part," he says. "The bittersweet part comes in here. I wish Adrian could be here to listen to the final product. I feel that he is listening to it somehow. He lives in the song for me. He lives in anything we’ve worked on. This track is kinda dark, but that’s how he would have loved it."

Le plans to host an event to raise awareness about mental illness, depression, and trauma and donate the proceeds to help others affected by these issues.

His advice: "I think it’s important we look out for each other more. Check up on your friends more often. Call them up. Make them laugh."

The Galactic Effect. 9 p.m. Friday, August 24, at Sensory Deprivation at 229 Warehouse, 229 NE 65th St., Miami. Admission is free.

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