Pop/electronica duo, Capital Cities, released their self-titled debut EP on June 7th, 2012 which spawned the popular single, “Safe and Sound.” Since the EP’s release, the guys have toured consistently and are now beginning to gain widespread attention for their work. Alternative Addiction recently talked with both Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant about the band’s beginnings, signing with Capital Records, and what’s on the horizon for the Los Angeles natives.
Prior to Capital Cities, Simonian and Merchant worked together making music for commercials and were rather successful at it; the two are even credited on several prominent companies’ commercials including Home Depot, Honda, and Wal-Mart. As the musicians continued to collaborate, they soon learned they had a mutual love of pop infused dance music and eventually decided to begin what is now known as Capital Cities. “When we first met up it was to collaborate on all kinds of stuff including Ryan’s solo project at the time because he was looking for a producer to help him out with that,” commented Simonian. “I was working on some side projects as well but then we kind of fell into writing commercials. Some gigs came our way and we continued working together; eventually the chemistry led to original material which naturally developed into our music for Capital Cities.”
Interestingly, neither Simonian nor Merchant has musical roots similar to the upbeat and feel good sounds of Capital Cities. In fact, Merchant talked openly about when he first began songwriting, his lyrics were quite moody. It wasn’t until he later joined a 80s cover band that his feelings toward writing shifted dramatically. “I think when you first get into songwriting, there is a tendency to write moodier music. I’ve been writing songs since I was a little kid but when I got serious about it in high school and college, the material was definitely a lot moodier. And then in my mid to late twenties I had a 80s cover band; it was this interesting electronica group I did with the guitarist of our current band. I think performing dance tunes from the 80s just opened up my eyes to how much people appreciate joyous tunes. So that kind of formed the next project. I wanted to make something that was fun and danceable but still had meaning to it.”
While Simonian and Merchant have been making different types of music as a duo for about four years, it wasn’t until they released the track, “Safe and Sound,” under the name Capital Cities that they began to receive interest from record labels. And though the group did continue to work independently for quite some time after the popular song was made available, the two just recently were rewarded for their hard work when they signed with Capital Records. “We are extremely excited about it. It’s very nice to have a more substantial team behind the project because for a long time it was basically Sebu, myself, our manager, and our attorney; we were pretty much doing everything,” said Merchant. “So now it’s good to have a machine behind us…when we first released ‘Safe and Sound’ on the internet, it climbed the charts on Hype Machine and it got a lot of attention from all these different labels, and many of them contacted us. But for whatever reason, they didn’t put offers on the table at the time; they probably wanted to see us develop so we did it on our own for about a year and had multiple meetings with Capital throughout that process. Then recently they came back into the picture, wanted to get involved, and gave us a very artist friendly deal.”
Similar to many groups that have emerged in recent years, Capital Cities first became popular with the help of the internet and specifically social media. And it was this positive online attention that enabled Simonian and Merchant to tour independently while expanding their fanbase (which of course eventually led to their new record deal). “I think we were able to utilize the resources of the internet to our advantage,” explained Simonian. “I don’t know if it was luck or the planets aligning, but the blogosphere really embraced us when we came out and it was very international. So the grassroots growth of our fanbase was slow but very widespread. So that helped us do things our way for a long time and it encouraged us to go on tour independently. We went to Europe and South America; so being able to do that independently was very fulfilling and now we’re ready to partner up with a really cool label like Capital Records.”
Capital Cities is currently working in the studio on their full length debut album which they expect to be released in early to mid 2013. The record will include the EP in its entirety as well as newer material that the band has been playing live at shows in recent months. “To be honest, a lot of the songs we’ve already played live so for the most part they are fully fleshed out songs,” said Merchant. “Now we just need to really dig into them in the studio and make sure we record everything well. We’ll probably tweak the structures a little bit but the core of each song is written. It’s also been good to perform a lot of these songs live because you get to understand why a song really works and what parts of it need to be highlighted.”
To listen to the single, “Safe and Sound,” click the following link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWZr2F0qohA