L.A. electro pop duo Capital Cities are spreading their music all around the world without the help of a either a big or small record company. Lots of music blogs started to talk about them when they first released their massive hit Safe & Sound. Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian released their debut EP last year, which did pretty well and let them played in Canada, US, South America and as soon as tomorrow also in Europe. They were also widely tipped by internet guru Perez-Hilton as “the best band in L.A.”.
ROCKAST reached Ryan Merchant and this is what he told us:
- You have just published one EP and seems like it’s working pretty good and has been spread by word of mouth. Has it been self-produced or is there any company backing the album?
Yes, we self produced and self released our EP and lucky for us the music has spread through word of mouth. This is the best way to build a fan base.
- Is it getting harder to get real support from record labels?
We don’t have a record label backing us so I would not know. We do everything ourselves with the help of our excellent manager and attorney. In this day and age you have to take control of your own destiny and create opportunity. You can’t count on so called “professionals” to make things happen.
- You two actually met via Craiglist (San Francisco’s equivalent to London’s Gumtree) also Manny, your bass player. How do you see the media nowadays and how has it helped you to bring your music around the world?
There are many forms of media and it is important to utilize all of them to build your fan base. Initially we got the attention of the blogs. This is how you start getting your name out there. Eventually you move to radio and the bigger magazines. At the same time we make connections with our fans through Facebook and Twitter. It’s an amazing time to be an independent musician. The labels still have a lot of power, but it is much more democratic now.
- Safe & Sound is as euphoric as it gets. Where does it come from? Saxophone is lately becoming very popular again in electronic music but that trumpet… What’s the story behind this song?
Safe and Sound took a long time to get to where it is now. We produced 10 versions before we were satisfied. Thematically, the song is about not worrying that the end of the World is coming. Every generation thinks we are headed for Armageddon, but it never comes. Humans have an amazing ability to adapt and solve problems. It’s a love song to the human race.
- You covered Pink Floyd’s Breathe pretty well with the Tupac sample and also Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares To You or Madonna’s Holiday with such a great result. Do you have something on your mind for a next cover or mashup you’d like to do?
I’m not sure what we will cover next. It might be a Beatles song, but not one that you would expect from an electro/pop band.
- What artist or band do you see as a musical reference?
We have many musical influences, but one of the biggest is Michael Jackson. His songs were so funky and danceable, but also had amazing lyrics and melodies.
- What’s the most played song on your iPods /iPhones/Walkmans…?
I really like the band Beach House a lot. Every song on their albums is good so you can listen through and not get annoyed. Whitest Boy Alive is also pretty awesome.
- Let’s talk about your concerts. With all this never-ending recession we’re having in Spain, I reckon people in your concert will disconnect and will be with a really good disposition and ready to have a lot of fun. What can we expect from your gigs?
We like to entertain crowds when we perform. We don’t just sit there and act cool. We dance, interact and enjoy ourselves on stage. We also have a good mix of live musicians and electronica that makes people dance.
- Ever considered any extravagant idea for your gigs like for instance, the hamster ball from Flaming Lips or something like that?
I saw The Flaming Lips use that hamster ball and it annoyed me. I went to see them perform their amazing album “Yoshimi Battles The Robots” and they just did silly stage antics instead of play the songs. So I don’t think we would do anything that would take away from actually performing the songs. People want to hear the music.