Q&A With Sebu Simonian of Indie Electro Band CAPITAL CITIES – Talks About Their Hit Song, “Safe And Sound”, “Hanging Out” With John Lennon, Touring With Katy Perry And More!
Posted On 24 Jul 2014
Tag: AIR, Artist Interview, Bob Marley, Brian Wilson, Capital Cities, Cherub, Depeche Mode, Doses and Mimosas, Gnarls Barkley, I Just Called To Say I Love You, In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery, Interview, Is This Love, John Lennon, One Minute More, Pink Floyd, psychedlic pop, Radiohead, Röyksopp, Sebu, Stevie Wonder, Tell Me How To Live, The Beach Boys
Los Angeles duo of composers Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian initially met on Craigslist in 2008 and worked as jingle writers until they formed the indie electro band Capital Cities in 2010. Merchant and Simonian are joined by bassist Manny Quintero, trumpeter Spencer Ludwig, guitarist Nick Merwin, and drummer Channing Holmes.
They released an EP independently in 2011 that included the song “Safe and Sound,” an upbeat mesh of synths and melody that spread like wildfire across the Internet. When they discovered through social media that an alternative radio station in Peru began to play the song, they connected with fans from Lima and organized tours in South America.
Encouraged by the experience, the band self-funded a promotional campaign and got on the radio in the states. Soon after, the music industry and the rest of the world took notice. Capitol Records signed the band’s indie label Lazy Hooks and released Capital Cities’ debut album In A Tidal Wave of Mystery in June, 2013.
“Safe and Sound” went multi-Platinum in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Mexico, and others, and shot to the top of numerous international charts, including number one on alternative radio in the U.S. and number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
The band has toured four continents and played in front of tens of thousands fans at festivals in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Poland, Japan and Korea. This year they have already played at Coachella and Bonnaroo and they will be playing at Outside Lands, Hangout Fest and all three South American Lollapalooza dates. They also hit the road with Katy Perry on the first leg of her summer tour.
Sebu Simonian took a few moments out of tour to answer a few fun questions for All Access Music Group writer, Nicole DeRosa. This is what transpired:
Where did you grow up? How did your location influence your style?
My family moved to Los Angeles in 1985 when I was 6 years old. Southern California has been home ever since. I love its diversity of cultures and natural landscapes.
Why did you want to get into music? Who are your influences and why?
Making music makes me feel good. Bands like Pink Floyd, Depeche Mode, Radiohead, Royksopp, and AIR are influences because I enjoy psychedelic pop.
What’s your favorite song that you have written and what was the influence?
The answer to this questions changes quite frequently. Lately, I’ve been enjoying listening to “Tell Me How to Live” off our debut album In a Tidal Wave of Mystery. It’s a strange mix of hip-hop, electronica with a touch of Armenian folk music as it uses an old guitar-like instrument called the oud.
What was the first piece of music that you fell in love with growing up?
Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You”
If you could spend the day with any musician that isn’t alive anymore, who would it be and why? Where would you go and what would you do? What would you ask him or her?
Easy. John Lennon. Best songwriter of all time. He was a deep thinker but also had a great sense of humor. I’d have him give me a tour of India and do some meditation, although I’m afraid he would confess that meditation is a waste of time.
How has the tour been so far? How has life on the road been treating you? Can you share with our readers any memorable stories from the road so far?
Touring is wonderful. Life on the road is tiring, but worthwhile. The opportunity to experience a wide variety of cultures, sights, sounds and tastes is a true blessing.
If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring with you?
Solar power, gardening tools, my family.
What is in your current music playlist? Any guilty pleasure songs?
Bob Marley – Is This Love? (Montmartre Remix)
Cherub – Doses and Mimosas
Gnarls Barkley – Crazy (TEEMID & Joie Tan Cover)
GUILTY PLEASURE: Capital Cities – One Minute More (Dustin Que & Mr. Best Remix)
Do you have any hidden talents we don’t know about that you would like to share with our readers?
I’m okay at basketball.
What’s on tap next for you this year?
A collaboration with Brian Wilson!
To keep up to date with Capital Cities, visit their website here
Capital Cities – Safe And Sound