On Saturday I had the privilege to interview the amazing Los Angeles electro-pop duo,Capital Cities, before their first ever San Francisco show. I could tell they were a bit nervous about the change of scenery, but once I sat in on their sound-check and heard how awesome they sounded live, I knew SF would be hooked. The show in general was amazing, it opened with Song Preservation Society, an Alt-Folk trio based in Berkeley, reminiscent of Paul Simon, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash; brought forth incredible vocal harmonies and stirring ballads, which were a great start to the show.
Next up was Audiafauna, San Francisco based, originally a five member band, but was short a member (violin/keys) for this set, but they still sounded awesome. Audiafauna is a true collaboration of many different genres, you pretty much need to hear them to understand, they mostly tour in the bay area, so make sure to check them out, they put on a great set, powered by great female vocals, that my body forced me to get up and dance to. Finally, Capital Cities came up on stage and immediately engaged the audience with their incredible vibe and energy. Audience participation was a big part of the set, and they were on it, filling up the room with a unified sense of a joyous purpose. They played all the tunes from their new EP, ending with the powerful, guaranteed hit “Safe and Sound.” From the energy of the crowd; you can tell everyone in the room, even the new listeners, were instant fans. Here is the conversation I had with the band before their San Francisco blow-out:
Thrillcall: How did Capital Cities Form? How did you meet?
Ryan: We met in, I think 08’, through Craigslist. We sort of got together, I needed someone to help me produce some songs, we fell into writing music for TV commercials, working as a composing team, did that for a couple years, started a music production company. About a year ago (March 2010) we had some songs kicking around and starting a band, that’s when Capital Cities officially started.
Thrillcall: So, I assume that most of your fan base is in LA?
Ryan: Yeah, most of it, however our stuff is out there. We definitely have international blogs that have mentioned the Safe and Sound EP, we have random South American fans and we are starting to get played on German radio, couple random things, ya know what I mean.
Thrillcall: How does it feel to play outside of LA?
Sebu: Well this is gonna be our first show outside of LA, so we’ll see, we feel pretty great.
Ryan: Hopefully, well I grew up in San Francisco. I have a lot of friends here and they know about our band, so hopefully it will be a good turnout.
Thrillcall: What are your fondest memories composing and working together ?
Sebu: It’s the idea, that we worked on a song called “Safe and Sound,” it went through literally 8 different incarnations. We love that song so much that we wanted to make sure it was right. It was interesting learning experience/experiment with so many different directions until we finally landed it and felt good and proud about it… satisfied.
Thrillcall: What about your musical experiences as a child?
Ryan: At least in my earliest musical experience, it was all about Micheal Jackson, just like every kid born in 1981. I was super into him, especially when “Thriller” came out, that was my first experience with performance. I used to imitate the dancing, even had a silver glove, was way into that. I used to watch the video and the making of “Thriller” every single day when I was a kid, so yeah that was an early musical memory for me.
Sebu: I think the first song I ever remember hearing was “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder. He is very important. I was thrown into Choirs and did a lot of classical training, which I think was very cool of my parents to force me to do.
Thrillcall: Who would you consider to be some of your biggest influences, for your current band, Capital Cities?
Ryan: Beethoven, these are I guess my personal, random items? Pink Floyd, Micheal Jackson, Underworld, Chet Baker, who else, so many.. definitely Stevie Wonder. I used to be way into Jamiroquai in High School, they’re always a little bit cheesy, but I’ve always been a fan of the Funk. I think that comes through in our music, some of our stuff is straight ahead rock or electro, but there’s definitely some tracks with that kind of that Michael Jackson funkiness to them.
Thrillcall: Do you have any good “on the road” stories on your drive from LA to SF?
Sebu: The In N’ Out Burger was really good on the way over. Pretty uneventful drive, actually, straight shot, took a nap..
Ryan: Christian radio, there was a lot of Christian rock for a good portion of the drive up, just to see what’s going on in that world.
Thrillcall: How do you guys prepare for tonight? Other than the sound check, which was entertaining in itself. Do you have any ritual that you always have to do for good luck?
Sebu: No rituals, but.. go ahead.
Ryan: I just drink a lot of water, I’m kinda a diva when it comes to my water. I don’t drink alcohol before a show, that’s really my only ritual, taking care of my voice, I would say that’s not very rock and roll, but it’s the reality of singing, ya know? I also drank some Chamomile with a lot of honey this morning. We actually played a show last night, we kinda were exerting ourselves, so we wanted to rest up.
Sebu: But long term, we prepare for each show by looking back at the last show, really thinking about what went well and what didn’t go well and improving upon that.
Ryan: Yeah, every show is an evolution from the last one. It’s like figuring out how to perfectly mix the songs so you’re never having a dull moment, we want our show to be completely entertaining the entire way through.
Sebu: Most importantly we need to be fun, we want to make sure everything stands out, to be joyous.
Thrillcall: So what’s next for you guys? What are you working on now?
Sebu: We want to do more shows like this more often, outside of LA, we want to play, and we just… I know this sounds obvious, want to reach out to more people, in the context that we enjoy ourselves the most, which is live shows. We just put out an EP, so obviously we are going to promote that and are pushing it to Radio. We are already getting some radio airplay, so we’re working that angle and working the whole online blog angle.
Ryan: Yeah actually a lot of Facebook, it has been an extremely useful tool for us. We want to take is as far as it can go, see where the songs take us, you know what I mean? If you have good songs, hopefully it goes somewhere and reaches people.
Sebu: Yeah and touring and working towards a full-length, sometime next year.
Watch Capital Cities’ single, “Safe and Sound”: