From Hannah Montana to Phoenix Axel


Senior (now WEGO graduate) Phoenix Passini, aka Phoenix Axel, plays guitar. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Passini)

By Nancy Sanchez, Senior Reporter

Hannah Montana did it. As did Fall Out Boy, Bright Eyes, Ryan Ross, Palaye Royale, Waterparks and Conor Oberst.

All musicians who inspired local WEGO senior and artist Phoenix Passini. Passini is a four-year choir student who started making music five years ago, but in all actuality, Passini started singing when they were eight years old.

Soon after turning 13, they started recording and releasing music within the comfort of their bedroom. 

“Hannah Montana is my biggest influencer. I’m not even kidding you. I honestly don’t know where the urge to record came from, I think it’s fun. I like singing and I sing to myself all the time,” Passini said.

With the support of their mother, Passini felt able to truly explore their full potential. What started off as a few YouTube videos turned into an LP, “Fifteen“, which was released in 2022 under the name Phoenix Axel. Passini also wrote, recorded and published two singles this year: “Condone This Behavior” and “almost sufficient, impossibly consistent“. 

Musician at work: Phoenix Axel uses the computer to fine-tune tracks. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Passini)

Though the process of making music can be tedious, Passini surrounds themself with caring friends who help lift their spirits and encourage the artist to keep making music. Still, pursuing musical professionally has been a struggle.

“Thinking that I’m not good enough, or seeing some of my friends have opportunities that I don’t know if I’ll get is really challenging and will stop my recording processes for multiple days, and sometimes weeks, which sucks when I’m on a timeline,” Passini said.

Regardless, they push through and continue working on music, which is both a passion and a way of life.

Passini sits on the floor of their room, microphone in hand. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Passini)

Although they cite many influential artists, the band Cursive inspired Passini’s writing style and the way they think about writing. Passini admits that changing their writing style allowed them to work more efficiently and streamline the recording process. 

“I’ll record vocals first, then I’ll do backing vocals, then I’ll do the guitar last,” Passini said.

After graduating from West Chicago Community High School on May 17, Passini looks toward the next chapter in their lives.

“The way that I keep going with making music is that I hope that it pays off, and that I’ll eventually get to where I wanna be, and where I already am in my head,” Passini said.

Passini is currently looking for venues to play in order to promote their music and gain more of a following. They started making joke bands within their friend groups, but now, as a solo artist, Passini is marketing their music and sharing behind-the-scenes footage on their Instagram page, allowing their fans to get the real and raw content.

Regardless of where the future may bring them, Passini remains optimistic.

“You can’t be sad to Hannan Montana,” Passini said.