Posted On 30 Oct 2018
In the arts district of North Hollywood, CA there’s a musical crusade taking shape. The torchbearers of the scene, a three-piece indie alternative rock band called City of Sound, are gearing up to release their debut full-length album, Silent Empire. The first offering from the 13-track album is “Odyssey” which boasts the bands trademark anthemic sound built on earworm melodies arrangements and hooks.
“Our specific sound was always the vision,” says Jordan Wright (vocals/piano). “I had wanted to create something that makes people feel epic and punches them right in the face with hope. Luckily, I found two people who wanted to be a part of the same thing.”
Rounding out the City of Sound trio is Andrew Leigh on guitar and Lacey Nova on Violin; creating a unique flavor of arena-sized alternative rock music that’s ever present with their epic lead single, “Odyssey.” Wright notes, “it’s the first song on the album and it introduces the journey we want our album to take people through. The journey of reflection.”
Silent Empire is crafted with that theme of reflection in mind and written around a central character, Empire, and her journey to become something greater. “The song ‘Odyssey’ is the beginning of that journey,” says Wright—the band’s primary songwriter, producer and arranger. “It begins with her world destroyed, left with nothing, but with everything to become. Left with nothing she makes the choice to take the journey she has long resisted. It’s something that is central to our message of love over fear.”
Being released in three parts, Silent Empire takes the listener on a journey through the character Empire, inspired by Wright’s personal experience. Part one dives into the deconstruction of who we are and the honest acceptance of our created insecurities. Part two explores the reconstruction of who we truly are. Then, in part three, what we do after we’ve gone through that process.
Building a loyal following not only in Los Angeles with recent sold-out shows, the band is also captivating audiences along both the west and east coasts. When asked what he hopes a fan might feel after a City of Sound show, Wright would feel like the job was completed if he overheard a fan saying, “I’m ready to kick ass and beat the shit out of life in the most beautiful way.”
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Learn more about City of Sound in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
Currently sitting in studio mastering our next single actually!
Since we are now at the back-end of 2018, how has this year treated this band? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year? How close are you to reaching it?
It’s been a really incredible year, and to be honest, we’ve been strictly focused on kicking ass and building our fan-base. Our biggest goal for this year was to go on a U.S. Tour and to have part 1 of our album out by the end of the year. Currently we’ve done the former and by December we’ll have completed the latter! So we’re feeling pretty blessed and ready to go for the kill.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on?
About seven years ago I had created the name ‘City of Sound’ while walking around Chicago and decided I wanted to make a go at it. I met my two band-mates (Andrew and Lacey) when I moved to L.A.. Both of them were all in when I told them what I had in mind for our music. Ever since then we’ve been inseparable and Andrew and I even work on other artists’ projects out of our studio. I think we have something very unique in the industry. We not only do 100% of our own music, but we also spend nearly every waking moment together, journeying through each other’s struggles and victories. I was blessed to be surrounded by two people I can truly call my family.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
I was born in Illinois and grew up in Carmel, Indiana as a preacher’s kid. That town has had a huge impact on my life, it instilled a hometown love for where I come from that I’m sure I’ll never lose. Growing up in the Midwest you learn very quickly to be straight-forward and honest, basically love and accept everyone around you but don’t take any shit from anybody! It has definitely helped me in maneuvering through this industry and smelling out the B.S..
Andrew was also born in Illinois, he grew up in Colorado and is a huge U2 fan (which you can definitely hear Edge’s influence on him in our music). I know he looks fondly on his upbringing and is always talking about how we need to go to Colorado for a writing retreat because he misses the mountains. Something we’ll take him up on soon.
Lacey grew up in Salt Lake City and a lot of what she went through growing up there has been a huge catalyst in who she’s becoming today. We keep trying to get out there to play a show, everything has just either fallen through or it’s been at a bad time scheduling-wise.
How has your various musical backgrounds helped shape the sound of this band?
I had always had an idea for what I wanted us to sound like, so when I found Andrew I knew he was the perfect fit, he had a knack for epic enthralling guitar sounds that would fit perfectly with what I had in mind. He grew up listening to a lot of U2, metal, and obscure rock bands.
Lacey is big into Muse, Evanescence, and we’re slowly introducing her to the world of heavy-metal. You can tell by her usual trend to dress like a vampire-queen.
After people hear our music they usually think my influences were bands like Coldplay, Thirty Seconds to Mars, or U2. Even though I have absolutely no issue with those bands, my real influences came from different film-score writers, heavy-metal (Celtic Frost, In Flames, to name a couple), and I learned how to sing from Myles Kennedy. There’s a really deep poetic voice to metal that always attracted me, and I guess I just wanted to find people that could take those kinds of lyrics and apply them to anthemic hopeful rock! That’s where Andrew and Lacey were a perfect fit.
Each of us has a unique musical-background, and it gives a different perspective on everything we create. We just have one rule, it must feel like it punches you right in the face (I use a different terminology for this saying, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to say if my mom reads this interview).
What was the inspiration for your newest single “Odyssey”? How do you think it prepares listeners for your forthcoming album, “Silent Empire”?
Silent Empire is a commentary on the single-human’s role in our culture’s obsession with tribalism. The album is a journey to become something greater, a journey that happens when we choose to finally face our own-self; all created-insecurities, all ideologies, and everything we grab on to in order to find an identity. The purpose of Silent Empire is to point to where we should be finding that identity, within ourselves. From my personal experience, we are terrified of reflection/change. I believe there is true courage in taking that journey. I think we would find a new source for conversation, peace, and compassion if we made that journey a pivotal choice in everyone’s story.
That’s where ‘Odyssey’ comes in, we needed a song that established the narrative of the album right away. This character (Empire), looking at a world she has created, destroyed and broken, leaves her with two choices, she can either stay surrounded by her own destruction or she can take the journey within and become something new.
How creatively involved were you with the making of the music video for “Odyssey”? What was that process like?
I had a vision for the music-video for quite a while, I had a friend (Leer Gold) who is a director and I called him to help me bring the vision to life. The dude flew all the way from New York just to make sure we got what we wanted. Oh man, and the poor production crew had to deal with my stick-figure storyboards, but they all brought it to life exactly how we had imagined it. We didn’t have a huge budget given we are an indie-rock band that funds itself, so we had to pull strings and make every cent count. The best thing about this band, is that everyone is all in, so when we needed Lacey to fall a million times for the slo-mo she was more than down. Not one person ever complains or gets frustrated. I think we all recognize how fortunate we are to be able to do this. I had dreamed for years about shooting a music video with my band. To stand on set and watch Lacey and Andrew rocking out for their takes was a memory I’ll never forget, it was like watching this 7 year grind come to a moment of peace.
How excited are you to be releasing your debut full-length album? Did anything surprise you about putting together this collection? Were there any unexpected challenges to it all? Why did you decide to break it up and release it in three parts?
Everyone has worked so hard to make this a reality, it’s very surreal to even sit down and hear what we’ve created/creating. Oh man, so many surprises and unexpected challenges! From producing, to writing, to mixing, to mastering, we’ve learned so much about our own music. Not to mention the randomness of losing everything for no reason when the computer just happens to shut off and not save anything lol.
We broke the album up in three parts in order to have a concise narrative in each part and also to help us keep momentum going. Given we are 100% independent, dropping a full album only gives us that moment to get our music out, where dropping a concept album in three parts allows us to push each part with its own intention, allowing our fans and hopefully new fans to take the journey with us. It also costs a lot of money to keep the studio-up and running, so breaking it into three parts allows us the time to fund everything.
Also, to be totally honest, this might be the only album we ever get to create depending on how everything goes, so we might as well put everything we can into it and try to make it go as far as we possibly can. Our fans deserve our best effort, which means every part of the album must have purpose and intention.
While it’s difficult, can you pick a few favorite songs off this forthcoming album? What was the inspiration for them and how did they get to be on this collection?
Each song has its own place in our journey so it’s really difficult to choose one. For a lot of songs I like to find historical references that parallel with the narrative.
For instance, much of our song The Madhouse is taken from a painting by Francisco de Goya he made during the Spanish Enlightenment and it’s commentary I felt paralleled well within our own personal “straight-jackets” that we create ourselves.
Even our song Race to the Sea is based off the use of trench-warfare during WWI while each army was trying to out-flank each other. I began that song when I was in London and Liverpool playing shows walking around WWI monuments. I felt a strong parallel with how we deal with tribalism today.
Odyssey obviously is in reference to Homer’s “Odyssey.”
Even our songs “Coat of Arms,” “I For One,” “Silent Empire”…all have some sort of deeper layer that we’re excited to see listeners find. Sorry, I know I was supposed to pick one, I can’t.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Lacey actually competes in Muay Thai and I train her, so the fight gym is definitely a spot for us. Andrew climbs a lot, and all of us love to be outdoors at any moment. I think we’d all agree that when it comes to music, we’d want to be on the stage in front of our epic fans. They bring out the madness in all of us. I personally hate recording in studio! I love the creating process and I love writing, but once you play in front of a sold-out crowd, the studio seems like such a prison!
Do you have touring plans scheduled for the rest of this fall and into winter?
We’re headlining at The Federal in North Hollywood on November 29th. We can’t wait. We got to tour earlier this year and North Hollywood is our home. We haven’t gotten to play a show at a venue there yet, so it will be like giving back to the place that brought us together. Then, we’re going to be planning our Part 1 album release for December! That will lead to us getting dates together for a tour early next year.
Do you find that all of social media and keeping up with your fans has gotten so overwhelming? OR do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?
We run all of our social-media so it can definitely get overwhelming, but it’s just a part of the game and it’s the only way for an indie-band to get exposure so we can’t complain. Usually Twitter is where we find the most engagement and then Instagram.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
If City of Sound can be one thing, we want it to be a place where people from every background, political-ideology, religious belief, or sexual orientation can come and just be human. A place where there are no sides, there is no flag. I don’t want our music to be a place of escape, I want it to be a place that encourages conversation, we want to take people on a journey that we are putting ourselves through every single day. I think we are at a place in society where we choose condemnation over conversation. We want to speak life and hope into a society that has chosen to destroy and provide a place of peace for everyone to come and witness other people from every avenue of life celebrating something epic and badass. We want everyone, no matter what they believe, to choose love over fear once they leave that venue. It’s a tall order I know, but that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
Bono (U2), Matt Bellamy, Myles Kennedy, In Flames, Chevelle, Amy Lee, Freddie Mercury, Ryan Tedder, and lots more. I’d love to do a song with Chris Martin, I’ve never really been a Coldplay fan, but I really like how that guy exists, seems like a human I’d want to get to know.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
It must always end in hope. We meet so many listeners who have lost all sense of purpose and don’t know if they should even exist. No matter who you are, we want you to leave our shows or listen to our music feeling like you can beat the shit out of life in the most beautiful way. That’s why we always yell “love over fear” …we know it’s cheesy, but it’s important.
Would you like to share anything else about your music or the history of this band to our readers?
Just like to thank all of you for even giving us a listen, it means a lot to us when any publication gives us attention and we’re really thankful for it.
(all photography provided by MSO PR)