LA River Bend
Californian band LA River Bend released their new single ‘Mountain’ on November 10th. After the release of their first single ‘Summer Wind’, the band is bringing an energetic second single that offers amazing vocal harmonies and rhythms. The record is “a testament to the band to keep on pushing and creating music”, revealed the band.
Formed by Nate Weiner (Vocals, Guitar), Emily Elkin (Cello, Vocals), Branden Stroup (Bass, Vocals, Guitar) and Jacob Seldes (Drums), the indie Americana/folk band has been playing shows around California and introduced their colourful music to the crowds.
‘Mountain’ is off their upcoming EP ‘Run These Hills’.
How did the LA River Bend name come about? What’s the meaning of it?
The band name came about very naturally. We were on tour, playing my solo release, Ride the Sun, up along the West Coast. We were playing in San Francisco and the crowd was asking where in LA we were from. We told them all about Atwater Village & where we were rehearsing at the time in Elysian Valley (also known as Frogtown). That is when we came up with LA River Bend, almost in a joking matter, it was definitely looked at as a temporary name, but over the years it has proven to sit right. It definitely captures not only the scene we come from, but hints at the beneficial influence of nature in everyday city life. Also we love a good pun.
How did you all meet? At what point did you know you had to make a band?
Originally, Branden & I were mixing my solo record and knew we wanted to put a band together to play these tunes live. We met Emily when she was playing with our friends Earth Wake at a School Night at the Bardot. She joined Branden & I on our little West Coast tour. When we got back we started to get into our LA scene playing with bands like PLaNETS and Kissing & the Hiccups, who Jacob was playing drums for. Once we had him in the mix, we knew we had a more dynamic folk rock band to play out with.
Do you remember the first time you performed together? Where was it? How was it like? What did you learn since then?
We have had the honor of playing with some great drummers leading up to finding a fit with Jacob. We even had former MIA drummer, Kiran Gandhi, who is killing it right now as Madame Gandhi, play with us for a few shows.
The first few times we played together, there was a definite learning curve, but we could tell that Jacob had the sensibilities & the aptitude for our music. He’ll be the first to tell you that he doesn’t play folk music, and the influence he brought helped open up our sound a lot.
Since those early learning days, we have come along way of playing with each other & are always striving to get tighter & capture the sound spaces we’re looking for.
Tell us about your latest record ‘Mountain’. What’s the story behind it? Who wrote/produced it?
I wrote ‘Mountain’ at the same time I wrote ‘Summer Wind’, our first single. Thematically & lyrically it was written as a testament to the band to keep on pushing & creating music. Over the course of recording for three years or so, there are definitely a lot of doubts and this song was a little pick me up in the face of that adversity.
As far as production for the whole record, everybody wrote their own parts. I had the structure pretty mapped out on this one and we all came together with appropriate parts to match the different tones of the song.
For the recording, the group harmonies were really fun, with Branden, Emily & I hollering out. Also loved the cello layering Emily did on this one. We knew we needed some driving cello parts at the end and we love what she came up with.
Could you tell us about your upcoming EP 'Run These Hills’? Who are you working with? How would you describe the sound of this EP?
Branden recorded & mixed the entire EP. The only help he got was one of us pressing record or being a second set of ears whenever he had to record vocals or a percussion part. We are very grateful to Val Garay (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt), who let Branden mix the whole EP at his studio in Topanga. Once we started to hear how great it sounded we had to continue mixing the whole project on that board. Eric Boulanger (Green Day, Tinariwen) finished it off with the Mastering at The Bakery.
When listening to the final EP, there is a certain retro 70’s feel to a lot of the tracks, it would be great to hear it on vinyl one day. I hope it translates through the recordings, but we definitely wanted the songs to overall have a positive calming influence. At the very least, the kind of tunes you can do some solid day driving to. The only definite night driving song on there would be “Fighting the Night,” which is best heard driving through a desert night.
How do your songs usually come together? Could you describe us your creative process when making an album/EP?
All of the tracks on the EP I wrote. Songs like “High Off of You” & “Don’t Get Lost” were written almost 10 years ago! For tracks like “Summer Wind” & “Mountain” I wrote them with the band in mind and tried to write in the sound we are exploring now. Since then writing has definitely become a more collaborative process and we’re really excited to record those songs as well. Hopefully on a full length!
In your opinion, what does a band need to do in order to be heard and noticed? How and where do you promote your music?
The arena of marketing your band and getting noticed is by far the hardest. We are in no ways experts as we are just starting to really promote ourselves. The best way for us to promote is to keep playing shows, as much as possible.
We are currently working with Mora May Agency for PR and have noticed a lot of great opportunities & press!
We are also very active on Instagram, trying to keep our IG stories current, showing the music we go out & see. Of course we’re up on Twitter & Facebook actively promoting as well. Might have missed the boat for Snapchat…
What are the most important things a band need to do to work effectively together? What makes a good band?
I think for a band to be successful there definitely has to be fun & compromise.
If it isn’t fun on the day to day, if you don’t enjoy each other’s company and are actual friends, I can imagine that it would be really hard to soldier on together without that bond.
Compromise is part of that relationship too. We have to respect each other’s opinions and sometimes make compromises, which isn’t always the easiest to do.
Los Angeles and California in general have a big music scene with great artists and music venues. What are your favorite venues to perform at?
Right now, we love the stage at the Hi Hat in Highland Park. Hotel Café & The Satellite have great sound as well.
Hopefully in the future we can play some of the larger venues like the El Rey & the Teragram Ballroom that we have enjoyed countless shows at. I would love to play some of the smaller venues that have opened up recently as well like Zebulon, Morrocan Lounge & the Resident.
What do you like the most about the LA music scene? Would you recommend any artist(s)?
I think our favorite thing about the LA music scene is the variety of excellent musicians & bands. Within our little community, we have the most down to earth, fun loving people, and we’re so lucky to call them part of our extended music family.
Bands like PLaNETS, The Crazy Brave, Mars & the Massacre, Young Creatures, Sara Dee & Sikemor are some of our favorites.
What do you think of the music industry in Los Angeles?
The music industry in LA is so large that even if you don’t vibe with the Sunset Strip scene or the covers scene of South Bay, there are a lot of options out there. We’ve played private parties to so many great intimate shows at artist workshops & poetry spaces. Not to mention all of the venues, bars, restaurants, wine bars, in the end you have to be adaptable. We’ve played multiple hour long sets at bars and beer fests, where we have had to learn a set worth of covers. Lately we have been playing stripped down shows too like for SoFar Sounds, SunSesh LA & Desert Nights.
What made you want to pursue music? What keeps you going?
At this point in my life, I know I love music & it is an integral part of me. I couldn’t stop playing music if I wanted to. I think the rest of the band can say the same. Emily is a professional cellist, Branden is a professional recording engineer, this music life with its many ups & downs is definitely the one we chose.
The external wins are amazing when it comes to keeping this music thing going, but it’s the triumph of writing a new song that I love or creating a new melody or groove when the band is jamming that really keeps that fire strong. We originally recorded a full-length record, 10 songs, which we could have released. However, we wanted to shave it down to a closer representation of where our sound is going. Music to us is about being true to ourselves & striving to get better, keep creating music that we’re excited about. Hopefully the 5 songs we chose for the EP get people excited too.
What’s the hardest thing about being an artist?
For me personally, the hardest thing about being an artist is finding the time to work on music. We’re all juggling our responsibilities and passions, but it is great living full, diverse days.
As a band, what have you accomplished this year? What are the things you are the most proud of?
Finally releasing the EP was huge for us. We had been in the mixing process for over a year, tracking & mixing for over a year before that. Even after the songs were mastered, we sat on it for months. I am most proud of us for getting these songs out there.
What’s your point of view on today’s society/world? What would make this world a better place?
As an American, our relationship to the rest of the world definitely seems unstable. However, this instability and turmoil under this government is temporary. America is a beautiful country with amazing diversity and creativity, I definitely think positivity and understanding will survive despite all of the divisive fear-mongering out there.
Some more level-headed decision making and understanding would definitely make the world a better place. I think a lot of other societies in the world practice that with better repetition than us Americans, but we have a very large unique country. Seeing how divided politically the country is, some more understanding and rational thinking on the daily would help everyone.
How does music affect your lives?
Music is many things to me. It’s comfort, a showcase to perform, it can also be my escape or my dose of self-therapy. Music definitely makes me a more creative, happy person, without a doubt.
What is your number one goal?
The band’s number one goal right now is to get as much traction as we can with this EP and hopefully get enough people excited for our 1st full-length. We have a lot of the songs written already, it would be great record & share those as well!
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