Trio of Business Students and Lifelong Friends Help Lead Popular Artist Collective

Three students pose for a portrait in a tunnel

Orfalea College of Business students (left to right) Henry Ludlow, Lyle Rumon and Nik Axelsen helped promote local music shows as part of their duties with Wavzine. (Photo/Pat Pemberton)

Written by June 10, 2024

In a sea of multicolored lights and loud bass, the DJ raises his arms, signaling to the cheering, sweaty crowd that the beat drop is nearly there. The normally colorless SLO Guild Hall is unrecognizable, transformed by hundreds of young music fans wearing multicolored shawls and covered in glitter.

DJ’s rotate every hour, each playing their own unique set of electronic and house music. Just behind the spectacle, three Cal Poly students– childhood friends, clad in sunglasses and sporting backstage passes– are immersed in the moment, seeing all of their hard work and planning pay off in this moment.

This show is a triumph for the underground music magazine and artist collective known as Wavzine. The name derives from the audio file format in which music is downloaded– a .wav file– but actually defining what Wavzine is in one sentence is a bit more difficult.

“Not to sound stupid deep,” General Manager Lyle Rumon says, “but I would say Wavzine is essentially a collection of people and ideas and creatives in San Luis Obispo that are just working to grow the scene and facilitate creative work.”


DJs perform to an enthusiastic crowd

Henry Ludlow, a marketing student, shoots a variety of music performances for Wavzine, including this moment from the recent Shabang Music Festival in San Luis Obispo. (Photo/Henry Ludlow)

It is this facilitation of creative work that makes Wavzine really stand out. Wavzine amplifies local voices by collaborating with them to throw house shows, and more recently, concerts at more established venues in downtown SLO. Boiler Bang, an event based on the boiler room-style concert trend, was one of their biggest shows to date, where they rotated out six local DJ’s and filled the SLO Guild Hall to maximum capacity with hundreds of music fanatics.

Wavzine is not a Cal Poly-affiliated group, though it is composed of mainly college-aged individuals, most of whom attend either Cal Poly or Cuesta College. In addition to house shows, Wavzine writes articles, conducts interviews, holds recording sessions, puts on craft fairs, and most recently held a fashion show with Cal Poly FITS (Fashion, Innovation, Trendsetting, and Styling) and the Cal Poly Sustainable Fashion Club.

“Working with a small, student-run organization has given me a real-world application of the topics I’ve learned in class.”

Nik Axelsen

Wavzine’s popularity has grown exponentially in recent years, necessitating the move to larger and more renowned venues, rather than the college houses where they began. Their shows have grown so popular that they can no longer announce the address on flyers and have to limit ticket sales. Though growth is good, Wavzine emphasizes that they keep the “DIY spirit” at the core of everything they do.

Though he now leads Wavzine as a general manager, marketing concentration Lyle Rumon’s journey with the organization began unconventionally; It started with a rejection.

A DJ performs with a mizing board

The art collective Wavzine puts on several shows, including the recent Boiler Bang, which featured six DJs and hundreds of fans at the SLO Guild Hall. (Photo/Henry Ludlow)

A self-confessed “music guy,” he applied to KCPR, the local student-run radio station, and submitted a 10-page application.

“I got rejected the next day,” he said.

Coincidentally, Wavzine was started in a similar fashion, from former KCPR DJ’s who desired a more free-form operation unconstrained by university rules.

“It’s an edgier vibe,” Rumon says, describing the punk bands, indie rock, and DJ’s that make up Wavzine’s rolodex of artists.

Passionate about Wavzine and recognizing the places growth was needed, he brought in his longtime friends, Henry Ludlow and Nik Axelsen, for their particular skill sets.

“How did this friendship start?” Rumon muses. “Hmm, what was it– Atlanta, 2014? Boys Night in Vegas? No, kidding, I met them all in middle school basketball camp, but we didn’t really connect until later.”

Though they met playing basketball against each other, they’re all on the same team now– roommates, Cal Poly business majors, and all a part of Wavzine.

Henry Ludlow concentrates in marketing and is Wavzine’s Photo/Video Director. Ludlow documents every full-scale concert and house show that Wavzine throws with a team of photographers that he manages. His team also coordinates photoshoots for the quarterly magazine, or “Zine” as they call it, showcasing a variety of local talent.

“Henry was already doing concert photography, and I was like, ‘Just come to Wav!’ It just made sense,” Rumon said.

Nik Axelsen is a finance concentration in the Orfalea College of Business, which he says directly informs his work as Wavzine’s Finance Director.

“Though Wavzine’s financials are handled very differently than big corporations, my finance concentration emphasized the importance of accurately keeping track of any cash that comes in and out,” Axelsen said. “Working with a small, student-run organization has given me a real-world application of the topics I’ve learned in class,” he said.

Axelsen recently passed the notoriously difficult CFA Level 1 Exam and is signed up to take Level 2 this November. Rumon is working with different music labels in talent booking and event planning, and Ludlow just shot the Shabang music festival, adding to his already robust portfolio, as well as accepting a job in technology sales post-grad.

All three are seniors, and graduating this fall. Though their careers are headed different places, they are confident that they will remain in each other’s lives.

“I see us staying friends forever,” says Axelsen, who just accepted a full-time position with a wealth management firm. “I would not be surprised if we even end up all living together again.”

Three student pose for a portrait in a tunnel

Rumon, Ludlow and Axelsen will all live in Southern California after graduation. “I see us staying friends forever,” Axelsen said. (Photo/Pat Pemberton)







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