We’re living in a weird time with the current events of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement. Everyone’s lives have been turned upside down. How are you currently holding up with everything that is going on in our world right now?
Kyle: It’s definitely been a difficult year trying to figure out how to be a person and musician in 2020. We came off a big song and were planning on touring all year. So, it definitely hurt personally and financially. It was going to be our “we finally made it” year. Not much we could do, so we just focused on writing and doing a streaming series every Wednesday to stay connected to our fans and have a bit of fun. It’s a stressful time for everyone, we are all in the same boat.
For new listeners who may have just stumbled upon your music, how would you describe your songs, and what sets you apart from other artists?
Kyle: We maintain our alt-rock roots while managing to be fairly eclectic. We like to jump from sound to sound because we like so many different types of music. We can go from an alt arena jam to a west coast hip hop influenced song to an 80’s neo-soul song.
How did you get your start in the music industry?
Kyle: We were just an acoustic duo at first. Neither of us had been in a band or written a song. We were like 17 and 18, so very late in the game to start seriously playing music. But we just kept at it, out of mutual boredom of being in a small town in Texas and passion for writing music. After a while, we got “discovered,” after playing a swanky venue opening that we got on because my dad was the electrician that helped put the place together. From then on, it was many years of hard work. Then, we played SXSW and got signed from a performance we did there.
How did The Unlikely Candidates form?
Kyle: We were friends who both loved going to local shows, and at a party one night, we played a few covers. I had never sung in front of anyone and something clicked for me. I asked Cole if he wanted to jam the next day and we never stopped.
Let’s talk about the band’s new single “High Low.” What inspired you to write this track?
Kyle: It was about coming home from tour and realizing that while you were off on the road, people have moved on with their lives. You’re in your house alone, wondering where the time and all your friends have gone.
What inspired your ideas for the “High Low” single artwork?
Kyle: I’ve spent so much time on my couch during quarantine, and I know a lot of people have. I wanted to capture that melancholy disassociation and aloneness, so I put him on a couch in the clouds. The song is kind of dreamy, so the artwork and the colors play to that. I worked with a great artist, Nashid Chroma, on it and he was amazing. Definitely recommend checking his work out.
What is your writing process like? Do you write individually or as a collective?
Kyle: I like writing with people because you feed off their energy. But, I end up writing alone most of the time because I have to really think about the lyrics sometimes. We have written every kind of way though. Jamming, sending tracks, communicating with producers, locking ourselves in a room, etc.
Who/what are some of your influences and inspiration for your sound?
Kyle: We love Gorillaz and The Strokes, not sure how much of that we show, but we often try to carry that spirit to our songs.
If you could have a dream collab with anyone, who would it be and why?
Kyle: Damon Albarn of Gorillaz and Blur because his stuff is always interesting, moody, and soulful. Rihanna would be dope. I love her style and voice.
You recently released your new single “High Low.” What else can we expect coming up this year? Do you have any goals set for 2021?
Kyle: Some streaming shows mostly, and in 2021, we hope to have an album out.
Everyone’s been hit hard by our current circumstances, including artists, as the pandemic has slowed everything to a sudden halt. The music industry has been severely impacted by the postponement and cancellations of scheduled tours and festivals, leaving musicians stuck at home. The fate of many venues are currently at risk and may be forced to shut their doors for good. Unfortunately, it appears that there will be a long waiting period before concerts make a comeback. What are your thoughts on the long term effects this situation may have on the industry? What actions do you think should be taken to combat this issue, and help artists get back on their feet once live music can return?
Kyle: It’s going to be hard to find places to play, especially for smaller to mid-sized bands, because over so many venues closing and so many bands needed to get out. Also, I’m not sure crowds are going to be as big, due to COVID still being around, vaccine or not. It’s going to take a while for the industry to recover. Touring is the lifeblood for music financially, so everything is going to be struggling for a while. As far as combating the virus: distancing, masks, faster testing, more outdoor shows, drive-ins. There are a lot of options, but no silver bullet. As far as getting back on their feet, it’s going to be shaky for a minute.
Due to the pandemic, live shows are placed on hold indefinitely, and touring is at a standstill right now. However, many artists are finding new creative ways to interact with their fans amidst all of the chaos; utilizing their social media platforms to share content, check in with their audiences, participate in livestreams, perform songs and put on “virtual concerts”, and provide insight into their new routines in quarantine. Do you have any plans that are similar in nature, to help pass the time until shows are back up and running again?
Kyle: We did a streaming session every Wednesday called “Flatten The Hump Day” for 20 weeks. Just did our last one yesterday at an animal safari park called Fossil Rim in front of some goat-like creatures called Addax. We tried to do stuff like that to keep people engaged. We have done some full band streams. It’s been great, but we only have so many songs. We also did an emo week and 80’s week where we performed covers. It was a great way to keep up with the fans. But at the end of the day, streams are not really a substitute for shows.
What is one cause or organization that you are passionate about?
Kyle: We did a stream where we donated all of the proceeds to the NAACP legal defense fund. The fight for racial equality and fair policing policies has been a big one, this year especially.
What are some of your favorite books? Favorite films/TV shows?
Kyle: I love Murakami, David Mitchell, and Neil Gaiman to name a few authors. “What We Do In The Shadows” - the movie and show are great. Mainly those two things, books and tv.
What is the main thing that you would like for people to take away from your music?
Kyle: Just something that they can add to the emotional lexicon of their own lives. A comforting or affirming lyric or a song to set their life to.
Do you have anything that you would like to tell our readers?
Kyle: Check us out. My favorite songs are “Violence” and “Best Things In Life Aren’t Free.”
Thank you so much for your time! It was a pleasure having the opportunity to talk to you, and I’m enjoying the new single “High Low.” Looking forward to hearing more new material from you soon! Stay safe and take care!
Kyle: Thanks for having me and the same to you!
Check out The Unlikely Candidates latest single “High Low” now!
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Interview By: Bri Rodriguez