TOPANGA – New Music
Los Angeles indie-rock group TOPANGA released the track “American Promises” in January of 2017, quickly following their debut single “Shadows”. TOPANGA was started by Derek Brambles and Eric Johnson, former members of The King’s English. On February 10th, 2017 the band is set to release their debut EP, Midnight Jungle. Titled after the nickname Derek and Eric bestowed upon LA after dark, the EP was written throughout late 2015 and early 2016, and is inspired by two lifetimes of experience in the strange city. They then brought the EP to their friend Mike Malchicoff (engineering).
Interview With Derek Brambles:
How did the group meet?
“Originally Eric Johnson (who plays bass) and I met at a friends party. We first had a band called ‘The Kings English’, we made two E.P.s with that project, and started to feel that that band had run its course. So Eric and I wrote a new batch of songs with no framework or genre in mind, which led us to Topanga. Ryan Silver was Eric’s highs school friend who was also the drummer in The King’s English. Andrew Levine (who plays keys) was a high school friend of mine that I recruited for the group. Dylan Robin (guitar) and Keila Roldan (vocals) both were introduced to me through friends, and I thought they were perfect for the project.”
“Hmm.. well funny enough “Shadows” started as a commercial jingle that the client rejected. Usually I end up hating the songs I write for commercials, but this one always stuck in my mind. I only had thirty seconds of it, but I knew something was there. I think I ended up seriously trying to finish the song six months later when my mom texted this video of me when I was a kid. In the video I was riding down this steep hill on my bike and in the background you can hear my grandmother telling me not to crash and burn. I started to think about the video as if she was talking to me in present time as well, “dont crash and burn.” I ended up taking the audio from that video and putting it at the begging of “Shadows”.”
Who else helped with recording and other aspects of the Midnight Jungle EP?
“First off, the artwork from the cover was made by my talented old friend Nicole Ellsworth. I immediately fell in love with it when I saw it. When it came to the recording process, our mixing engineer Mike Malchicoff was amazing. He had a really good vision for where the songs were meant to go, and he spent a lot of time on then. The songs went through a lot of changes over the mixing process. He had a good ear for what instruments actually needed to be there.”
What do you have planned for 2017 and what else would you like to have going on in the future?
“2017 is going to be a busy year for us; along with the record we have a really immersive VR music video coming out. Were going to follow that up with another music video that were currently filming for our song “American Promises” from Midnight Jungle. Then were going to release two new singles before summer that aren’t on the EP. Other than that… a lot of shows.”
Outside of music, what do members of the group like to do for fun and other personal accomplishments?
“Eric and I spend a lot of time skateboarding. We just built a mini ramp at the band house and I try to skate that thing every day. Eric is also currently working on a clothing line called “Ethan”. We all jam and write with friends in other projects as well.”
What advice would you like to give to people that would like to create their own music? Any programs, applications or learning tools that anyone would suggest?
“Oh man, maybe I’d start with asking are you sure? First off I’d ask what type of music they’d like to make; if they said Electronic, Id say start with Ableton. If they wanted to make rock n’ roll, I’d say get Pro Tools, and if they are a singer song-writer, get Logic. That being said, all of these programs can be used to make all types of music; I just personally feel like some are more geared towards certain genres. Then I’d say lock yourself in your room and watch 10,000 hours of youtube videos on recording and writing techniques. If that sounds really boring and daunting, it’s because it is. Eventually though, your writing and production abilities will get to this unique point where they start to blend together. You might write a song differently because you know where the recording will eventually be or maybe start in a program with a series of loops that eventually make a song. Then when you feel like your stuck, pick up a random instrument you can’t play that well, and start writing with that. I guess what I’m trying to say is to constantly evolve your writing process, and when you feel like a song is reaching uncharted territories… keep going cuz your probably almost there.”
Are there any artists that you have opened or closed for in live shows that you would like to mention?
“Topanga has only had a handful of shows so far, but we did open for Reggie Watts at EL CiD in Los Angeles. That was really awesome, he’s a really talented guy… really great singer. I couldn’t believe the range of his voice, and did I mention he’s extremely hilarious.”
Would anyone from the group like to mention any personal special thanks or events in their life that has made the full extent of the music possible?
“Woah that question is really heavy… I’m sure each member has some long answers to that, so I’m just gunna give a nutshell answer. I’m sure I can speak for everyone in the group and thank other musicians out there for being beautiful crazy creatures. I know we all have artists that have inspired us over the years that ultimately led to what Topanga is and our sound. So…”