What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
I grew up in San Diego, CA a musical family. I listened to a lot of 50s and 60s oldies growing up and was particularly drawn to the Beatles and the Beach Boys. In Elementary school, I watched the Beatles Anthology and It blew my world open. I asked my parents for a drum kit for Christmas. I didn’t get one that Christmas but I got a practice pad and I felt driven to practice and always get better. When I was around 11, I picked up the guitar because I wanted to start writing songs. I played in church, practiced a lot and I ended up getting signed to a Christian label called Sparrow / EMI CMG (the Christian music side of EMI) when I was 19. I toured churches for a handful of years before realizing that was not what I wanted to do with my life. I quit, moved to Los Angeles, and started an electronic-pop project. I also started playing for other groups which eventually led me to be a touring member of the band “Foster The People” for the last six years. I recently left to pursue my own music again. Elephant Castle is a return to the music that originally lit a fire in me and made me want to do music in the first place.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
My latest release is a song called “Life In Outer Space.” It’s an escapist love story that starts in a park and ends in outer space. I wrote it with my wife (Hannah Leder). We were talking about how life seems safer in outer space than in the current state of our world—hyper-politicized and upside-down—this was even before the absolute mad bull that is 2020.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
Musically speaking I would say The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and Tame Impala have shaped the sound of the music. I am particularly obsessed with the recordings of the 60s. They are just magical… all analog gear, tape saturation, and the lack of editing made them so imperfect and human — Rich and beautiful.
Non-musical influences would have to be the idea that love transcends all things and is the most powerful action humans are capable of … yeah, that has been pretty influential to me. That and video games..
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
I explain the sound of Elephant Castle as retro-inspired indie-rock. I’d say my voice sets the music apart from other genre-related artists. I love harmonies and old plate and spring reverbs. I try to edit as little as possible. I believe every time you edit, it takes a little bit of the human out of it. If I get it wrong, I play it or sing it again until I get it right… it can take a while sometimes but I always try to stretch myself. I also like mistakes so sometimes it’s really quick.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Albums : 1. Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 2. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds 3. Radiohead – Kid A.
Movies : 1. Harold and Maude 2. Star Wars – A New Hope 3. Lord of the Rings – Return of The King.
Books : hmmmm right now – 1. Be Here Now 2. The Bible 3. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
I prefer the studio. Everything about performing live is a headache until I’m actually playing. There is nothing like connecting with a live crowd. However, the studio is where the magic happens. It’s where you chase the muse and receive songs. It’s a turbulently whimsical and sacred process that I can’t get enough of. It’s very life-giving to me.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
When I was 19 I climbed a water tower in Texas while on a tour. I had gotten into photography and thought it seemed like a good idea to snap some photos of the town at night from atop the tower. It was government property. I got caught and I was charged with a Class A misdemeanor – criminal trespassing. Oh, the things you don’t think about! It shook the curious and adventurous spirit right out of my teen body. It has thankfully been my only run-in with the law, but I have to declare it almost every time I travel internationally. One time when entering Japan, I had to circle “yes” to the question “have you ever been convicted of a crime.” The sweet lady at immigration read through my form and then pointed at the question, assuming I had made a mistake. I said, “yes I have.” She nodded like she understood but kept staring at the “yes” circled on my form. She pointed at again, really making sure I wasn’t confused. I said, “yes I have.” She nodded again and gently picked up a phone and set it on the table off the hook. I was thinking “Oh goody, here we go.” Soon afterward a few men took me into a back room and did the same thing as she had done, pointing at the question multiple times and trying to ask me in different ways to reeeeaaaally make sure I hadn’t made a mistake. After trying to explain to what happened when I was nineteen and given them a notarized document saying I’ve been a good boy, they made me sit down. Ten minutes passed. And while at the peak of my gut feeling, knowing deportation was imminent, they brought out a warm sheet of paper with the same question in 72 pt sized font with a massive yes or no. I circled yes. There was a long 7-second silence and then they laughed and let me go through.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
From the songs that are released, I would say “Cool to be Unhappy” is the most unique. To me, It has a very interesting ascending hook in the choruses and finds a nice balance of retro-meets-modern which is very representative of my process. It has the soul of an older song but there are some very modern sounding effects.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
Well, touring is not on the horizon in the current state of our world. I plan to keep releasing singles and making videos for them for the foreseeable future. I’m in the planning stages of an immersive performance experience but it’s a ways off still.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
What is you favorite video game?
Final Fantasy VII
Photo credits: Hannah Leder
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
Connect with Elephant Castle:
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/cooltobeunhappy
BANDCAMP – https://elephantcastlemusic.bandcamp.com
SOUNDCLOUD – https://soundcloud.com/elephantcastlemusic