INTERVIEW: Coast Modern on Writing 10 Songs a Day, Meeting Matt Healy, Streaming Their Way to Success
    • THURSDAY, OCTOBER 06, 2016

    • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch

    Coast Modern is an impressive little genre-bending duo hailing from Los Angeles... Well, maybe they're not so little. They have garnered over ten million streams on Spotify and have topped Hype Machine charts, all while not even releasing an album. They have a few singles out "Guru," "The Way It Was," "Animals," and their most popular, "Hollow Life," which are all super hooky with polished pop sensibilities, while also tying in tropical sounds and hip hop beats. They played their first ever show earlier this year in March and they've already graced major music festivals and are on tour with The Temper Trap. No big deal, right? We caught up with them after their performance at The Meadows Festival to talk about their rapidly growing success and upcoming musical adventures.

    KIRSTEN SPRUCH: I caught you guys at The Meadows yesterday, it was great. How'd it go for you guys?

    LUKE ATLAS: It felt really good. I was surprised to see that much enthusiasm at 12:30 in the afternoon.

    KS: I saw that you met Matt Healy while you were there, too.

    LA: [Laughs] Yeah, my so-called doppelganger.

    KS: How'd that happen?

    LA: He was backstage. They actually took our dressing room. We got kicked out of it, so I was like "I should get something out of this." I just went up to him and I was like "Hey we played earlier, we're Coast Modern, can we get a picture?" and he was like "Oh sorry I missed your set." He was super nice.

    KS: What's it like playing major music festivals when you don't even have a full album out yet?

    LA: [Laughs] It's pretty crazy, the whole thing is crazy. The weirdest part is seeing people learning the songs that they don't even know as we're playing them. By the last chorus everyone in the front is singing along to a song they've never heard. I guess that's a testament to the songs, hopefully. It's a good thing.

    KS: And I see you're on tour with Temper Trap, how's that been going so far?

    LA: Yeah, it's been amazing, it's been a lot of new faces -- people that don't really know us so we kinda have to prove ourselves every night. It's a nice challenge. The Temper Trap dudes are super, super nice. We've been hanging out and they made us feel super comfortable. Amazing to watch every night, too.

    KS: Which city has been your favorite so far to visit on tour?

    LA: Oh man, that's hard. I always love coming to New York, just the crazy energy, it's like nowhere else. A surprise for me was Asheville, North Carolina. It's like a little hippie town tucked in the hills of North Carolina. We played there with BORNS and the kids were just going wild. Maybe because they don't get a ton of shows there. They were bobbin' real hard.

    KS: Your music has a very west coast vibe, would you say that LA influences you at all?

    LA: Absolutely. Certainly the weather is an influence and the pace of life there is pretty laid back, so that works its way in. I also feel like so many people are doing so many different types of music and sounds, there's not really a specific scene you have to fit into, which is actually pretty freeing. We just do whatever we want.

    KS: So you've also topped hype machine charts and raked in millions of streams, what are your thoughts on the world of streaming music today?

    LA: I'm really excited by it. Something like Spotify where there's playlists is kind of bringing back the mixtape in a way. Friends can share mixes and we can be on there, and other curators will make a playlist and we'll be on it and it'll have millions of followers, and that's a huge audience that didn't exist until recently.

    KS: Do you think streaming, social media, and the internet in general has helped you with making new fans?

    LA: Absolutely. We try to be pretty active everywhere. The social media thing is pretty big for us. We try and have a real personal connection with the fans, it's like a real back and forth, versus us just promoting stuff. They send us memes all the time and we'll write back.

    KS: They send you memes? [laughs]

    LA: Yeah! They make memes for us, about our band. It's kinda like a friend vibe, making each other laugh back and forth. It's constantly going on, which is amazing. They're very funny so it makes it a joy to do the social media stuff.

    KS: And you get to meet them in real life too, right? Do you ever hang out at shows, or have you ever had a fan tell you their favorite song?

    LA: That's starting to happen a lot, we're getting some diehards. We met a fan who brought us a huge box - it was probably like ten pounds - full of cookies she made for us, and one of the cookies was in the shape of the Coast Modern eye logo.

    KS: Wow.

    LA: Yeah, and it's cool to put a face to the twitter handle in real life.

    KS: When you're writing a song do you usually start with a guitar riff? Or is it different every time? How does your process go?

    LA: It varies a lot. It usually starts with one of us making a beat. We both have been producing for a while, so sometimes we'll pull up some music and get a vibe going that we like, and start mumbling stuff on top. Sometimes we start it on guitar just to switch things up, and those usually turn out to be completely different songs. We also do a thing called "The Song Explosion Day" occasionally, where we'll be separately just trying to make as many starts of songs as we can without overthinking it. So we try to do 10 songs in a day each. And that leads to a lot of freedom. Overthinking is the enemy of creative music making.

    KS: Giving yourself that deadline helps you?

    LA: Definitely, we like to work quickly. Most of the songs we've done have come out in a few hours or in an afternoon. It seems like the ones that take longer aren't the ones.

    KS: Is there a reason why you mainly play guitar on stage when you're also making a lot of the beats and stuff during the recording process?

    LA: Just convenience for now. We're still pretty new, our first show was in March, but I would love to add more electronic elements and doodads.

    KS: So where do you see you in a year from now?

    LA: Oh man, full length feature film, like Spice World.

    KS: [Laughs]

    LA: I think a world tour under the belt would be nice. See some other countries, touch a lot of hands and hearts of all the different people. I hope we're just staying true to ourselves, which means just following our gut and trying to surprise ourselves with what we throw in musically. And, you know, there might be an album in there somewhere next year.

    KS: I feel like there are a lot of artists that are making huge careers for themselves based off just a few singles.

    LA: It's pretty crazy now. We're enjoying doing the singles thing -- you can be more reactive to what's going on. We put out "Guru" at the time that it felt right, it was Spring and we were just going with the vibe of the season, and we've just enjoyed doing singles for now.

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