It was instant creative chemistry when Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant met through Craigslist a few years ago — which is fortunate, because Merchant was the only one who responded to Simonian’s post.
“He was looking for a producer to help him with his solo project,” Simonian says. “He sent me some samples of his songs, which were really good. When we got together, we collaborated immediately.”
The pair spent a couple of years writing TV commercials, but they always had other projects floating around, too. “We collaborated on all kinds of stuff and putting together ideas,” says Simonian. “We realized all that repertoire was prime material to start a band.”
So they did just that, starting the band Capital Cities in 2010 and putting out an EP the following summer. Their debut album, “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery,” comes out June 11.
As for describing their style, Simonian says Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd and The Beatles are among their influences. You could call it alternative-pop, or techno, or alternative-dance with a blend of upbeat, catchy tunes — or something else altogether. The indefinable quality is “somewhat intentional.”
“It doesn’t matter to me what we’re categorized,” Simonian says. “Ryan and I try to make good music. Overall, we definitely like to make it dance-y — electronic in your face, fun and upbeat and joyous — but we do try to venture into the dark side sometimes with experimental sound. Sometimes the lyrics takes turns, and we try to balance it out with depth and more edgy and dark moments.”
From Pink Floyd to 2Pac
Capital Cities went bold with the decision to cover Pink Floyd’s classic “Breathe.” Then they went bolder, adding in a little Tupac Shakur.
“To be quite honest, it was a spur of the moment inspirational experiment,” Simonian says. “We spontaneously thought it would be nice if we could throw a rap person in here somewhere. The idea kept bubbling — we searched the Internet for a cappellas from some of our favorite rappers. We stumbled upon this amazing short little verse that he raps over another song, which was I thought was perfectly fitting.”