Experimental musician and Amarillo City Council candidate may seem to be an unlikely pairing, but it exactly describes Hayden Pedigo. The 2019 SXSW Showcasing Artist has been an acclaimed solo musician for a few years, but the 24 year-old has also piloted an unlikely campaign for a seat on the governing body of his hometown, the Texas Panhandle’s largest city.
A self-taught guitarist, Pedigo developed his musical approach in Amarillo’s geographic remoteness and relative cultural insularity, where he absorbed early guitar influences like John Fahey, Larry Gatton, and Wes Montgomery, along with other music that caught his ear, such as free jazz, prog rock and obscure indie noise bands.
“I just made a kind of weird, oddball music with my guitar,” Pedigo explained during an interview at SXSW in March. “How I found my voice was by mixing the guitar stuff with weirdo synthesizer sounds and tape loops, and it became its own thing … I think it’s trying to tap into moods and tones. The idea is to make like a patchwork quilt of the different sounds.”
Pedigo also said that the landscape of his native high plains region is woven into his musical fabric: “I’ve always said that Texans create great ambient music … the sky is huge, and it’s all about space, and Amarillo is extremely like that. It’s flat, it’s spacious and there’s a sense of isolation, a little bit of loneliness.”