Posted On 15 Nov 2017
Meet the Venice, CA based indie folk-pop duo formed by siblings Zach and Georgia Hurd called Bay Ledges. Their debut single, “Safe“ has over 3.9M streams on Spotify. It was selected as “Today’s Top Tune” at KCRW. Their new EP Fountain Tropical is currently out now.
“Safe” came to life in a moment of major creative upheaval. After spending a few years in New York City, Zach took off for L.A., got a job at a restaurant in Venice, and put his music career on the back-burner. While crashing at his sister Georgia’s place, he soon began writing and recording on his own as a way to reconnect with the joy he’d found in making music as a kid.
“I’d come home from work and record these songs and not really even think about releasing them, since they were so different from the heavier, more acoustic stuff I’d done before,” says Hurd. “It was just a fun exploration. Georgia and I would meet up and talk about different music we were feeling inspired by and then figure out how to bring some of those elements to a Bay Ledges song I was working on. They felt like little art projects we were putting together.”
Sunny yet soulful, warmly textured and sweetly melodic, “Safe” was sparked by the newfound sense of possibility that Hurd discovered in moving to L.A. “It’s a love song, but there’s a bigger theme of meeting people who seem in touch with the magic of creating, especially the idea of creating just to create,” Hurd points out. With its heart-on-sleeve sensibility, “Safe” reveals the delicate contrast at the heart of Bay Ledges, embodying both a carefree spirit and powerful depth. The project also marks Hurd’s first official collaboration with Georgia, who lends her sweetly enchanting vocals and builds up the breezy energy of each Bay Ledges song. “This was the first time we’d ever lived in the same city, and I wanted to take advantage of that, musically,” Hurd says of his sister, who’s also an actor. “It’s been really fun to have her listen to songs of mine that she’s never heard before, and then record whatever she feels like singing in that moment.”
In November 2016, at the urging of his sisters and friends, Hurd released “Safe” online but made no effort to promote it. Within weeks, the track landed on Spotify’s Fresh Finds playlist, then shot up the Global Viral chart. “At the time I was in Williamsburg, Virginia, helping to clear out my grandparents’ old house,” recalls Hurd, who’s originally from Bath, Maine. “Every day I’d wake up to something new. It was so surreal—like, ‘This unbelievable thing is happening, and I’m in Colonial Williamsburg and there’s no one to celebrate with.’” With “Safe” drawing attention from a host of record labels, Hurd soon signed with S-Curve Records.
Borrowing the name Bay Ledges from a plot of land his grandparents owned in the Maine woods, Hurd grew up on the Paul Simon and Beach Boys and Aretha Franklin records his parents spun at home. He started playing guitar in middle school and writing songs in his early teens, often turning to Georgia for guidance. “Since we were kids, Georgia and I have always connected through music,” he says. “As I started writing my own songs, she’d help me with harmonies, or we’d try working on a tune that she’d started writing. It was always a pretty fun and casual thing.”
Hurd began playing open-mic nights in Providence and—once he’d graduated—touring the country in a singer/songwriter duo. Eventually settling in New York, he then dedicated himself to developing his career as a solo artist, a venture that included winning the International Independent Music Awards’ Best Pop EP prize for 2013’s She Never Sleeps.
With the release of Fountain Tropical EP from Bay Ledges, Hurd has made a point of sticking to the un-calculated approach he brought to the making of “Safe.” “I used to get so focused on trying to express things in a poetic way, I’d end up not really saying anything at all,” he says. “This is the first time I’ve been able to stop myself from self-editing in my attempt to please others.” With Bay Ledges evolving from a passion project to a fully realized musical outfit (also featuring vocals from sister Georgia), that lack of self-editing has served a higher purpose for Hurd. “It’s easy to get caught up in trying to come off a certain way,” he says. “Making this music lets me connect with myself. Throughout the creative process, I have to check in and make sure I’m not giving in to any pressure, and just go with the songs that are coming out of me, because those are the most honest. It’s difficult sometimes, but it’s also so freeing and so much more fun that way.
Connect With Bay Ledges Here:
Learn more about Bay Ledges in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Where does this interview find the band today? Is there music playing in the background? What is it? What is one song that you are all loving right now? What is a song that you disagree about loving right now?
We’ve just gotten back from a short tour along the California coast and now we’re working on new material for our upcoming album. Been listening to the new Beck album lately. Other than that it’s a real mix of stuff. Georgia and I share a Spotify folder and just throw songs we like into it… we have pretty similar tastes in music so it’s hard for me to think of a song we strongly disagree on. She just sent me the song “Saltwater” by Geowulf… I really love it.
How does 2017 so far compare to last year? How differently did you all approach this year then you did 2016? What all are you most excited about for 2018?
It’s a pretty dramatic change. At about this time a year ago we were working restaurant jobs and talking about what we wanted to do next…working on Bay Ledges full time didn’t quite seem like a possibility. I was loving working on the Bay Ledges material but it was something I was working on when I wasn’t at work. After all the success of “Safe”, we signed with a label in the beginning of this year and that’s when things started to take more shape. We’ve worked a lot on our live show and put a new EP together. It’s been really exciting. For 2018, we’re really excited to put a full length album out and do more consistent touring…we’d love to play abroad.
Can you recall the moment you realized that you could really make music together? Why do you think your name truly represents this group and the music that you create?
I think we realized that when we were little kids. We wrote our parents a song for their Christmas present one year, probably when we were in middle school. We stayed up all night writing it and coming up with harmonies. I remember being pretty impressed with how fast we put it together and how good it sounded. I can’t remember the song now but I’m sure it’s not as good as I thought it was then.
We took the name from some land our grandparents owned in the woods of Maine. It’s on a bay. It was a magical place to explore as a kid…still is. We just wanted the music to speak to a time in our childhood when we felt a real freedom with your creativity.
How did your family first react when you told them that you wanted to play music together and be in a band? Were they supportive from the very beginning?
Before Bay Ledges took off, Georgia had been pursuing acting and I’d been recording and touring as a singer songwriter so our parents already knew we’d decided to pursue our passions. Because Bay Ledges started as a casual project (me having Georgia come by and sing on some songs I was working on) it wasn’t like we said “ok we’re really gonna do this band thing”…the project just slowly evolved from there.
What would you say is the best part about being in a band with your sibling? What about the hardest? Do you find that you have the same music taste and that helps you both write music together?
We get along really well so it’s nice to work with someone who you know understands you. I think we’re pretty supportive of each other. On the flip side of that, we’re brother and sister so there are those moments of friction when you think you’re right about something and the other person’s wrong. Usually leads to one of us looking it up on Google. And, yes, we have pretty similar tastes in music so that makes it fun to work on songs together.
I always like to ask artists how their hometown has been an influence on the kind of music they make and really what kind of a band they are today. So how do you think your hometown has affected you and the music that you create?
Our parents were teachers and we grew up watching the school shows they worked on. All the faculty and students would put on the show, it was pretty amazing…and to see it as a kid was really powerful and inspiring. Seeing these people that you knew transform on stage into something else made me want to do it too…even though it terrified me. Seeing those performances definitely planted some seeds at a young age for both us.
What was the inspiration for the songs on “Fountain Tropical”? What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the whole process? Were there any unexpected challenges? Can you talk about the progression of a song or two on this EP?
Each song on Fountain Tropical feels like it comes from it’s own place. I think they all sit together well but the EP was made during the first half of the year and up to that point I’d always produced the songs on my own timeline. It felt a little more intense to work on the music with a deadline we’d agreed on with our label. I remember getting near the end of producing “In Your Head”, I’d played it for Georgia a few times and we talked about writing some new lyrics for a couple sections…it just didn’t quite feel finished. I set up the mic and my living room and Georgia took a few passes singing melodies that came to mind. We latched on to a few specific parts she had tried out and ended up using them throughout the song. I think it brought the whole track together.
How have you two grown as musicians since you first start making music together? Do you feel like there has been a progression through the years?
Bay Ledges has only been going for a couple years now and prior to that we weren’t really making much music together but I think a lot of growth has happened these past couple years. It’s felt good to keep getting more comfortable with each other and ourselves on stage. That’s been a major piece to the project that we’ve both seen evolve over this short time.
I am curious to know more about all the different ambient and funky sounds that you use in your music? Where did all the ideas to use them come from?
I’ve always loved the use of samples in hip hop songs and have wanted to recreate that in my own way. I’ve played acoustic guitar for a long time and had always used it as a primary instrument…I knew it would still be some of the foundation in the BL recordings but I wanted to throw other things in to keep it engaging. It’s really fun to manipulate vocals and chop up guitars or to go out with your iPhone and try to record some sounds to bring back to a track. In those moments I really feel like I’m working on a little piece of art.
Do you have plans to play out live this fall a lot in support of your new music? What has been a favorite show of yours in the past? What do you think makes an ideal show for Bay Ledges?
We just finished 7 shows up and down California and we’ll be doing a couple more on the 18th and 21st of November in San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are some more dates coming in too. We played a really fun show last week at The W Hotel in West Beverly Hills. We weren’t really sure what to expect being we were playing at a hotel…we haven’t been to many hotel shows. Anyway, it ended up being awesome! The sound and stage set up was so good and then people ended up dancing and really getting into it. Great set up and great people to play for…I think even if the sound and stage aren’t that great, if the crowd is into it and having fun, we’re going to have a great show.
How active are you two on social media? How important do you think it has been so far for your career?
We’re fairly active…mostly Instagram, though. Social media has definitely helped us in a lot of ways so far. You’re able to connect with people you never would otherwise. However, using it has not come easily to either of us. I’m a private person by nature so it’s been challenging to be intentional with promoting and showing your daily life. It’s still something I have to remind myself to do.
With the summer over now, what was your favorite part about it? What was something fun that you two did or tried for the first time?
Playing a show on a ferry boat in Annapolis, MD was definitely a highlight and a first. There’s no escaping the party.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being in this band gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these hard times?
Bay Ledges started as a way to connect with our childhood love for creativity with no judgement. At the time we were each dealing with our own heartache from breakups and losing our dad earlier that year. It felt like a transitional period and a heavy one. I think the project gave us something else to throw ourselves into. These are scary times in our world and country but I think creating something that requires others to be involved in a joyful way is something that’s important to keep doing.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Is there anyone that you would still love to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for this band?
Beck, Beach House, The Band, James Taylor, Little Dragon, The XX, Jackson Browne, Father John Misty, Pharrell Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Wild Nothing, Washed Out, Toro y Moi, Feist. There are so many, it’s really hard to narrow it down.
It would be a dream to work with Beck… we’ve been big fans of his since “Loser”. He’s such an imaginative artist and producer…it would just be fun to watch him work.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I hope the music makes a listener feel lighter or more connected with the world around us. If nothing else we hope one of the songs just makes you feel good in some way.
What advice would you give to a band just getting started? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
If you love doing it make sure you keep doing it. I think the most important thing is that it has made me feel more connected to a deeper part of myself…it becomes about trying to actively tap into that. Also, to not let the fear of being judged keep you from exploring and performing your music.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about the band or your music?
We hope to see you at one of our upcoming shows – stop by our website or find us on any of the social platforms you use. We love hearing from people who are listening! Thanks for having us!