PACIFIC AIR (Formerly Ko Ko)

PACIFIC AIR (Formerly Ko Ko)

BLONDFIRE, PALMS

Sat, December 1, 2012

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Pub Rock

Scottsdale, AZ

$10.00

This event is all ages

PACIFIC AIR (Formerly Ko Ko)
PACIFIC AIR (Formerly Ko Ko)
There's nothing typical about Pacific Air. Even while growing up in Southern California, brothers Ryan and Taylor Lawhon didn't learn about music via the usual staples, but rather through their mother’s unconventional taste in music.
"For most people, classic rock is nostalgic since that's what their parents listened to," exclaims Ryan. "For us, it's Enya, Deep Forrest, Laurie Andersen, and Ray Lynch because that's what our mom played in the house. New Age was our primary music knowledge as kids, and it definitely left an imprint."
Yet, the brothers were influenced by more than just their New Age musical roots. Despite the fact that they are decedents of a rural Alaskan family, Ryan and Taylor were born and grew up in Southern California and have never experienced a winter. The wintertime vibe must be in their blood, however, as their music at times possesses moody and ambient elements while still managing to maintain the warmth of their environment. The two nearly identical brothers drew inspiration from their virtually nomadic lifestyle, moving annually from one town to the next around the West Coast, and finding permanence in their collaborative capabilities. By the age of 15, they were in bands together, and not much has changed since in terms of their process.
"It's a lot like any sibling bond," Ryan comments. "We don't always agree, but we're surprisingly in tune with what we want to do. Taylor writes many of the rhythms and underlying chord progressions, and I'll write many of the melodies and lyrics as well as filling in on the production side. We're a great team."
In March 2012, they uploaded three original songs to a Bandcamp page under their initial moniker KO KO, the name of a boat they considered buying in the Newport Harbor. They had tracked the music on a laptop in the bedroom of their home, utilizing everything from guitars and bass to keyboards, synths, and organ. The setup wasn't fancy or extravagant, but it captured their spirit organically.
Within merely 24 hours of uploading the tracks, a Vice blog contacted the musicians. After two days, their music hit number one on The Hype Machine. A flurry of acclaim began to mount with features by tastemakers including MTV Hive, Disco Naivete, My Old Kentucky Blog, Neon Gold, and many more. The next week, Ryan and Taylor found themselves in New York for the first time to showcase for major labels. Embracing the drastic shift in weather had an incredible payoff for the duo, as their trip culminated with securing a deal with Republic Records.
Sonically influenced by their environment, but emotionally and lyrically exploring profound themes of death and self-exploration, the brothers found a style that is uniquely their own. In many ways, the first single "Float" provides an apropos introduction to Pacific Air's shimmering dream pop. Sun-soaked melodies cascade with bright beats, finger snaps, faint guitar, and laidback whistling as Ryan asks, "If we both get old, will you let me float away?"
The singer reveals, "I was literally floating between different things, and there was a real uncertainty about the future. The lyrics were born out of depression from that, but the music has a summer vibe. It's an interesting juxtaposition. I feel like the song is a youthful perspective on transition."
However, that's only one facet of their forthcoming debut four-song EP for Universal Republic produced by Chris Zane [Passion Pit, Mumford & Sons, The Walkmen]. A majestic organ swells through "So Strange" as synths careen in tandem alongside Ryan's elegant hook.
About the track, he goes on, "It's one of my favorite songs lyrically. 'So Strange' is almost like a sequel to 'Float'. The song talks about what happens after you've decided where you're going in life and your direction. It examines the insecurities implicit in that."
To some degree, Pacific Air's identity remains encapsulated in their name itself. Ryan exclaims, "It's a good description of our music and who we are. We've always lived somewhere near an ocean. It's where we've been most of our lives, and it's fairly representative of most of our songs, but I don't know if I would consider it surfing music. "
The music’s otherworldly, sonic perspective really works well anywhere though. There's a universality in the brothers' bond that ultimately makes Pacific Air inviting, infectious, and intoxicating.
BLONDFIRE
BLONDFIRE
Young Heart

"We were driving around with friends and someone said 'I smell a bonfire,'" recalls Erica Driscoll, lead vocalist-keyboardist-guitarist of the brother-sister duo Blondfire. "We thought they said 'Blondfire,' and at first we kind of jokingly said it should be our name – but it stuck. We liked the fact that it was masculine and feminine at the same time. It represented who we are in a cool way."

That push-pull of elemental forces is fundamental to the siblings' sound. Winsome, melancholy vocals and '80s-influenced melodies float atop shards of guitar and propulsive beats, leavening Blondfire's infectious pop tunes with real punch. Alternately haunting and ebullient, their Warner Bros Records debut Young Heart represents the purest example yet of Blondfire's unique musical hybrid.

"We tend to write sweet, dreamy melodies," agrees guitarist-drummer-sequencer-backup singer Bruce Driscoll, "and having a rhythm section that's more aggressive – and not too straight – gives it that gutsier, edgier feel." Like Erica, Bruce grew up loving bands like The Smiths, The Cure and New Order. But when it came to drums, Led Zeppelin skinsman John Bonham always occupied a special place in his heart.

The formula has resonated strongly with listeners. Blondfire became the first unsigned act to hit the #1 spot on the iTunes Alternative chart and one of very few unsigned bands to be added to the Sirius Alt Nation playlist, on the strength of the evocative, bouncy "Where The Kids Are" and its arty video. "I submitted that song to a few blogs and it just took off online," Erica marvels. "According to Hype Machine, we became the #1 most talked-about band on the internet!"

"Where The Kids Are" is the lead single on the self-produced Young Heart, most of which they wrote and recorded, Bruce reports, in "about a week" at his home studio and Hollywood's historic Wax Studios (formerly TTG). The set was mixed by Wally Gagel (Muse, Folk Implosion, Gorillaz). "Wally mixed 'Kids,' and he has a great grasp of what we're about sonically," volunteers Bruce. "He has a real knack for pressing the 'sound big' button."

Young Heart is the duo's first full-length album since their 2008 indie release My Someday. In the interim, the band has developed a homegrown following in Los Angeles through live residencies and radio airplay from KROQ, KCSN, 98.7 and KCRW. Their music has also been heard in the films Besties and Get a Job; on TV via ESPN's Australian Open Tennis, The Client List, MTV's Awkward and The Collection and in an ad for Ecco shoes.

Bruce and Erica grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan; their U.S.-born dad plucked classic rock and pop on the guitar, while their Brazilian mom – a classically trained pianist – exposed them to bossa nova and music lessons. By her teens, Erica was mad for '80s pop and teaching herself guitar.

Bruce was initially obsessed with film soundtracks, which no doubt ultimately contributed to Blondfire's emotionally vivid musical textures. "My dream was to score a Batman movie someday," he remembers. Later he got into drums (partly as a rebellion against piano lessons); although he soon switched to guitar, he retained his preoccupation with beats.

"Once Bruce started playing guitar, that's all we wanted to do," Erica says. "In Michigan there isn't much to do, especially in winter. So we just holed up in the basement, writing songs and recording them on our 4-track machine." They began gigging soon after.

And that Brazilian thing? "You can hear it a little in the way we use melodies," Erica muses, "and in the way that Bruce likes to put all kinds of variations into his beats." Bruce adds that he leans toward certain chords that lend a melancholy feel one could trace back to Jobim and other Brazilian songwriters. "It's not obvious," he says. "But it's in there." And just part of the one-of-a-kind recipe that makes Blondfire sound like nothing else.
Venue Information:
Pub Rock
8005 East Roosevelt Street
Scottsdale, AZ, 85257
http://www.pubrocklive.com/