Posted On 12 Sep 2016
Streetlight Cadence is a young, talented Alternative Folk Pop band. The 4-member vocal and instrumental group is comprised of Jonathon Franklin (violin), Brian Webb (cello), Jesse Shiroma (accordion and percussion), and Chaz Umamoto (guitar).
They just released a music video of their song “I Need You Tonight” off their popular album Beyond Paradise which released in early 2016.
Streetlight Cadence started on the streets of historic Waikiki. What began as a means to pay for groceries has now turned into a full-time career for this group of friends. The band has spent the last six years honing their craft as songwriters and entertainers. Although they come from a strict classical background of musical performance, the men of Streetlight Cadence are anything but your typical quartet.
The Band has over 5 years of experience performing at restaurants, venues, weddings, coffee shops, and corporate events. Driven by their infectious storytelling and whimsicality, Streetlight Cadence has made its mark on Hawaii’s musical landscape. Now based out of Southern California, none are safe from the friendly, neighborhood busking band.
Learn more about Streetlight Cadence in the following All Access interview:
Now that we are more than half-way through 2016, what are some words you would use to describe it? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for your music?
2016 has been a whirlwind of activity! Having moved to Los Angeles in late 2015 we couldn’t wait to dive into a new scene filled with fantastic producers, songwriters, and fellow musicians. Between songwriting, recording, performing, and attending various expos we’ve been busy around the clock, but as a team we’re able to tackle any challenge thrown our way. It feels like we just embarked on the greatest leg of this adventure yet and can’t wait to bring our fans along for the ride!
2015 was a year of both great joy and excitement. After 5 years of hard work in our home state of Hawai’i we had become a successful independent band with an incredible family of fans from around the world who’ve supported us every step of the way. A big highlight for us was winning the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for Alternative Album of the Year for the second time in a row. It’s essentially the Grammys for Hawai’i and felt like a literal fairytale because we started as a sidewalk band in Waikīkī and worked our way up to the the higher echelons of the music community where now collaborate with many artists who we’ve admired since we were kids.
The excitement stems from the fact that we realized if we wanted to continue developing and improving our sound we had to find even bigger challenges which brought us over the pond to Los Angeles where we can learn from some of the industry’s best and brightest. We realized we had to leave our home for the sake of our fans as we now have access to resources to produce the best songs possible which they deserve!
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall your earliest musical memories?
Music was an integral part of our upbringing but while we were all privately tutored and played in orchestras as kids, only Brian had a strong intention of becoming a professional musician early on. We all come from different hometowns and were fortunate to have family and a community that valued the arts and encouraged us to develop our musical aptitude as we grew up.
How did Streetlight Cadence first come together? How did you all meet each other? What is hard to come up with your band name?
Streetlight Cadence formed through a series of coincidences and luck. Jonathon met our original guitarist Daniel when they were neighbors in Honolulu and thought it would be fun to start a band. They wanted a third member and put an ad out on Craigslist looking for a musician who played an “interesting instrument“ and Jesse showed up with an accordion. We thus started as a trio and juggled names around for a few months before Jesse pitched Streetlight Cadence as a fun reference to our street-performing roots. Shortly after our formation Jon invited Brian (who played in the HPU orchestra with him) to come to a rehearsal after which he joined permanently. Chaz was coincidentally a sound engineer at one of our first open mics and kept an eye on us for several years as we grew and developed. When we had to find a new guitarist he answered our call and brought a fantastic variety of skills to the table. With our line-up firmly established we’re ready to charge ahead as a team of friends unified in vision, creative drive, and camaraderie.
How do think your sound and really your outlook on being musicians have been influenced by being from Waikiki? What was it like moving to California?
The funny thing is that coming from Hawai’i, everyone expects us to play Hawaiian music or derive some influence from it in our sound, but it’s clear that we’re strongly in the pop-folk-alternative genre. That doesn’t mean we don’t love the music of our home state and have a deep respect for the artists both established and upcoming who ply their craft to keep it’s past alive as well as push it into the future. We highly recommend checking out the scene back in the islands…you’re sure to find a wealth of new sounds you’ll love!
Moving to California was a great step in developing our sound! As a nexus for all musical genres to come together we have been exposed not only to a wide spectrum of sounds but also some of the highest quality and execution of songs. We hear things never done before on an almost daily basis which inspires us to push ourselves to find and develop the next fresh idea in the music realm while improving ourselves individually as musicians.
I’m curious to know how your experience playing at all kinds of venues and events has made you all better performers today?
Having the flexibility to play a wide variety of venues has been a tremendous boon to our growth as a band. As sidewalk musicians we had to quickly learn how to read the audience because you need to capture their attention, keep it, and most importantly give them a great show! Playing on busy sidewalks alongside other street performers for years has taught us to stay sharp on what songs/sounds are relevant in today’s music industry and find the perfect balance to draw people in with recognizable tunes while sharing originals to continue building our fan-base.
On the opposite side of the spectrum playing weddings, corporate, and private events has strengthened our firm dedication to punctuality, politeness, and professionalism. We understand event coordinators are often overworked and understaffed so we do our best to make their job as easy as possible from our side by always being prepared with the proper gear, showing up on time, and being flexible/low-drama if the event timeline runs late or changes on the fly.
It goes to show you can learn something from every venue whether it’s a public sidewalk or a private rooftop soirée!
You recently released the music video for your song, “I Need You Tonight.” Can you talk about that process? What was it like making it? How creatively involved were you all?
We were very fortunate that our friend Benjamin Chai was visiting LA from Houston and is an avid filmmaker. He was in town for a conference and pitched the idea of shooting a music video for I Need You Tonight in one day. As we already work on a very tight schedule we were stoked to hear he had a general storyboard prepared that could be shot in a normal 8-hour work period. We threw in a few suggestions but loved his overall idea for the video.
Shooting was a blast! We’ve been good friends with Ben for a while now so it was easy to communicate with one another and get things done quickly and effectively. We’re already in the works for our next music video and can’t wait to share more quality releases with our fans.
Earlier this year, Streetlight Cadence released your album, “Beyond Paradise.” Can you talk about these songs and the inspiration for them?
Beyond Paradise was a pretty big departure from our normal album creation process. Until this album Jonathon had been the primary writer in the band but as we grew and developed as individual songwriters we felt it was time to create a product featuring tunes written by all of us. Each song was vetted by the entire band and once approved we deconstructed them and edited them together to bring out the best qualities in each one. The inspirations for the songs are as varied as our own backgrounds as we have very different writing styles stemming from personal experiences, dreams for the future, stories we’ve read or heard from others, and so on. The binding concept though is one of hope and friendship.
What if anything has surprised you about the music industry? What do you think has been your biggest challenge? And what do you think has come really naturally to you?
One of the biggest surprises we encountered in the mainland music industry is just how tightly networked it is. We quickly learned that while there are tens of thousands of artists, producers, songwriters, and so on, there is a small core of very experienced, professional, and engaging individuals who keep the industry machine moving forward. This was great for us as we genuinely love making friends! Community is a big thing back in Hawai’i and we were glad to experience that once you started meeting the right people they quickly help network you to other reliable individuals in the business. Some call it hospitality, but we call it the aloha spirit!
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you and your music? Who would you all love to work with in the future?
Where to start? As individuals we’re very much into a number of obscure artists from around the world but collectively we can agree on several mainstream acts that we enjoy such as The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Muse, Plain White T’s, 5 Seconds of Summer, and so on. We look up to these artists for their polished sound and seek to create our own unique style through our instrumentation, lyrics, and presence. We would love to tour with any and all of the above acts and regarding producers and sound engineers we love the work of so many, some of them being Ryan Hadlock, Rob Chiarelli, Imua Garza, Alex da Kid, and John Feldmann.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
We want to build a very real connection to our listener and convey to them our positive outlook on life. Through our songs we address challenges and hardship but more importantly the ability to overcome them via your own strength and with the help of friends. We like to count ourselves as one of those friends and want to help you through your own obstacles in life! If a listener can get through a song feeling empowered and on a high note then we couldn’t be happier ourselves.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourselves or your music?
We would like to thank you Leah, for your time interviewing us and invite your readers to join us as we start a new leg of this crazy adventure across oceans from sidewalks to stages and everywhere in-between!