Octathorpe (Sheldon Kessel)

Octathorpe (Sheldon Kessel) was born and raised in rural Belfield, North Dakota.  It was a tiny, working-class community where farming and oil exploration were the primary industries.  

From an early age he began exploring the world of sound around him.  …birds…oil wells…tractors…wind rustling through leaves and fields of grain.  As the youngest member of a large Catholic family he was highly influenced by his older siblings’ musical tastes, as well as the music of the church.  His earliest formal music education was singing in the church choir while attending Catholic school.

By high school he had taken up formal studies in brass and percussion instruments and had begun teaching himself piano.  In high school he also played in his first rock band.

Sheldon went on to formally study music composition at MN State University, Moorhead.  He became a multi-instrumentalist and eventually began exploring computers and synthesizers for their sound-generating and sound-manipulating potential. He performed in all kinds of organized-sound performance groups – choirs, wind bands, jazz bands, rock bands, experimental-sound groups, pop groups, hip-hop groups, dance groups, and more.  He then went on to graduate school to study Arts Research at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN.  He became a college teacher in 2004, with his first teaching job at McNallySmith College of Music in St. Paul, MN.

While in college in the late 1990s, Sheldon began making recordings and releasing albums.  His earliest music was, as he describes it, “experimental electronic folk.”  His first three albums were released cassette-only and were released under the name “Sheldon.”  After graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Composition degree, he went on to computer school at the University of MN in hopes of landing a programming job. It was there he learned of the word “Octathorpe” -- another word for the “#” symbol -- now typically referred to as the hashtag.

Sheldon released his first album as Octathorpe in 2001.  From 2001 to 2006 he was heavily involved in the dance music scene in Minneapolis and released “ForAhndafleur” in 2009.  From 2007 to 2010 he was the programmer and keyboard player for the band Milkbar who released a self-titled album in 2010.  He moved to Chicago in 2011.  In 2016 “In the Meantime” was released and he began releasing singles for distribution to dance music stores.   

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© 2017 by Sheldon Kessel