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Urban Heat on How to ‘Go Deeper’ Creatively Onstage

"If I'm having a transformative experience onstage, and there just happens to be a crowd watching it happen, that's the best experience," says Jonathan Horstmann
Jonathan Horstmann of Urban Heat performs onstage during The Darker Waves Festival on November 18, 2023 in Huntington Beach, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/WireImage)

Jonathan Horstmann, singer and multi-instrumentalist of post-punk trio Urban Heat, wants his band to be a conduit for creativity.

Speaking backstage with SPIN at SXSW, Horstmann explains his mindset—sharing how, ideally, their artistic expression can inspire fans to find their own.

“Everybody has creative, artistic expression as part of the human experience,” Horstmann says. “Part of our show and part of what we’re trying to do … is give permission to everyone else to find their own expression.”

Horstmann acknowledges that, for some musicians, the repetition of touring can be a roadblock. But he argues that it’s an artist’s job to “go deeper” each night—for themselves and for the audience.

“Otherwise, people can recognize when something’s just being spoon-fed to them, or when a performer is just phoning it in, and we’re just not interested in that,” Horstmann says. “It’s not fun for us; it’s not fun for the crowd. And for this to not feel like work, for it to feel like something that is serving our souls, it needs to be transformative for me. If I’m having a transformative experience onstage, and there just happens to be a crowd watching it happen, that’s the best experience.”