If doing-things-your-own-way could be personified it would probably look like Miguel Rocha. Commonly known as Rocha by family, friends, and coworkers, the 30-year-old musician and South Omaha native is no stranger to living life his way, on his time. This is evident the second you see his signature shaggy hairdo and carefree swagger.
From throwing his own show in a basement at 17 to managing one of Omaha’s more recent DIY venues, Milk Run, Rocha has been a staple in the Big O’s counterculture for close to two decades.
“I really fell for the Omaha hardcore screamo scene in like ’98, ’99. That’s when I was going to shows,” he says. “I see these young kids living life and going on tour and having fun and not living the ‘normal’ life. That was honestly my biggest draw to it. It was like ‘This is living. This is what I want to be doing with my life.’”
The allure of freedom wasn’t the only thing pulling a young Rocha into the music scene, though. Rooted in an upbringing set against the backdrop of the “marginalized South Omaha projects,” he also found a passion for inclusion and community development in the arts.
“That’s [the] best thing about what Milk Run did. We were making mixed-media bills, and when you do that you show people that there is more than what they thought was out there in the world,” Rocha says. “That’s honestly my biggest goal, to make everyone come together because there’s no reason to be separate when we’re all oddities in this world.”
Milk Run, an all-ages, all-inclusive, truly ‘do-it-yourself’ effort, enjoyed a short but sweet three-year stint as a home to poets, artists, and musicians of all kinds. Although it closed its doors in 2017, Rocha believes there will always be a need for grassroots efforts to promote inclusion through the arts.
“We need it as a community,” he says. “When you don’t have a space where everyone feels comfortable and where everyone can create, it creates little groups that don’t need to exist. They want us to be alone; they want us to be in our small little niche communities. But no, we can actually create a large community of people who are all supporting all forms of art. I think that is the most important thing.”
When he isn’t busy booking local shows or helping the voiceless find a way to be heard, Rocha’s focus is on CBN, an industrial music project that he started in 2009.
“What I’m actually talking about is where I’m actually from. This isn’t an image I want to put in front of you,” he says.”This is my release from that existence. It’s me expressing those things that burden my soul from that bringing up.” Rocha says that the goal of the project is to explore what he perceives as a class war in America, “how the disenfranchised will always stay disenfranchised because that’s the way the game is set up.”
Several years and a few tours later, CBN has transformed into a duo with Rocha and fellow producer and friend, Davy Haynes, also known as TNDR PiNK, joining forces. Fresh off a successful 10-city tour that peaked with the End Tymes Festival in New York, Rocha has his sights set on the future of the duo.
“I’ve been doing Omaha DIY almost half my life now. I need to take a break,” he says. “I have to take a step back and focus on my career with CBN and see where I can get when I put all my dedication and focus into that.”
While he is stepping away from the Omaha DIY scene to pursue other endeavors, the spirit of doing things himself still rings true for Rocha.
“I think a lot of people don’t understand the actual sacrifice it takes to make things work,” he says. An independent artist in every sense of the word, he is willing to keep making those sacrifices to help his dreams come to fruition.
Find Neblastya by CBN on Spotify.
This article was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of Encounter.