Without a doubt, the award for “most buzz generated from the most modest amount of music that’s actually out in the world so far” goes to CATHEDRALS, an electro-pop duo that has about 4000 fans on Facebook at the time of this writing…and all of two (excellent) singles on SoundCloud, the most recent of which, “Harlem,” was released three weeks ago and is approaching 180,000 plays.
Singer-songwriters Brodie Jenkins (Ghost & Gale) and Johnny Hwin (bassist for blackbird blackbird, one of the head folks at the art-and-tech-collective warehouse The Sub) met about two years ago through a friend — despite the fact that they’d been at Stanford at the same time — and just couldn’t stop jamming together.
Jenkins’ almost hauntingly pure voice is layered over Hwin’s guitar, synth, and computer magic for a dynamic that’s clearly hit a nerve; each of their singles, in all its danceable, head bob-able, simultaneously otherworldly and more-human-than-a-lot-of-electronic-music glory, has garnered a seriously impressive amount of chatter. Plans for the rest of the year: Getting an album out as soon as possible.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the juxtaposition of warm analog timbers you get from real instruments and synths with the silky ‘electronic’ sounds you can only get from chopping and manipulating WAV files on a computer,” says Hwin, an Oakland-born, Hercules-raised kid, of the duo’s sound. “I love writing melodies to fit his instrumentation. We do this thing that we call ‘vocal playgrounding,’ where I riff on top of an instrumental that Johnny’s started,” says Jenkins, who grew up on an apple orchard in Sebastapol. Adds Hwin: “She’s got a golden ear.”
Where does the name come from?
Brodie: CATHEDRALS came out of a word-play exercise involving an insane number of many-colored post-it notes.
Johnny: We wanted a name to encapsulate the imagery and thematic elements of our music and partnership: duality, surrealism, sensuality, etc., so we wrote down all of these ideas, shuffled them around, and found what we were looking for.
Favorite venue in the Bay Area to play?
Johnny: I love the sound system and vibe of The Chapel.
Brodie: My absolute favorite venue to play in the city is Viracocha, but I also love Amnesia and the Rickshaw Stop because they’re such intimate spaces with a great vibe. We’ve also done a few shows at Johnny’s warehouse-turned-art-space called the Sub. There is a great community of artists and entrepreneurs who hang out at the Sub, so it’s a really special place for us to play.