The alt-pop duo return with another dreamy project.
If you are obsessed with Glass Animals and Passion Pit, you’ll find that indie-pop duo slenderbodies – aka Max Vehuni and Benji Cormack – falls in-between the two. Known for their signature airy falsetto vocals and soothing guitar riffs, the duo are back with their new project “are we?”, and we’re impressed. Taking things up a notch, the duo intricately creates their own psychedelic world, with driving electronic beats and twinkling synths. Creating a cinematic dream-pop soundscape on each free-flowing track, the Cali natives dive into the same indie charm that you might hear from Mura Masa or NoMBe.
“Cherry Blossom” was the first teaser that we got from the duo’s recent experimentations, and leads the way for the other hazy yet smooth tracks. Pouring the West Coast’s signature cool in too each track, the band take us through an array of heavenly guitar riffs and outlandish vocals.
Speaking on the release, the duo said, “Songs would come about usually one of two ways. in the first scenario, one of us would create something, be it a full-fledged song or just a voice memo, and we’d send it to the other. From there we’d either hop on zoom or the person receiving would add in their spice and sauce to create a new version. This could include new production elements, changing of tones, replaying parts, new lyrics, and vocal stacking. However, we always had a concept and overall sound of the track as a north star.”
Having released their debut album Komorebi in the summer of last year, the duo revealed that their creativity blossomed during the various lockdowns, using the time to build their latest project. Ready to live stream the project tonight, the two artists sat down with us and got candid on breaking their own rules, labelling their sound and learning how to be vulnerable with each other.
Check out the interview and project below…
Hey guys! How has this past year been for you?
I think the best we can say is that it’s been alright! We were both really fortunate to have spaces to be in where we felt safe and comfortable amidst the chaos and hardship in the world. that said it wasn’t easy, we miss a lot of people still, miss facets of being musicians, and missed each other as we were apart for almost a year during the making of this record. Creativity has blossomed amidst all this though, we were able to engineer a system to work remotely really well, using zoom and a plug-in called audio moves. Creativity and songwriting was the escape, especially as we both built out and finished home studios that we love a lot. It affected creativity in a way where I think there’s a different relationship with it. we’re easier, less demanding of it, in contrast to when we’d be on tour for six months out of the year and would feel immense pressure to make things. right now it feels gentle, joyful and cathartic, and we’ve been treating creativity more as a close friend these days.
Where are you guys from and do you think your hometown has impacted your sound?
I’m from half moon bay, CA and Max is from Glendale, CA. both of us were brought up in tight-knit communities which inspired how we approached collaboration in a lot of ways. This community I think also enabled us to harbour and retain the growth mindset we have today. there we always people around us who told us they believed in us and to pursue our dreams, and I think that’s pretty special.
How did you two meet? And what sparked the interest in music?
We met in college at UCSC. At the time I was in a rock band and Max actually offered to help me record, and that’s how we started working together. We kept in touch as we both branched out musically, and eventually came together to form this project.
You’ve been together since 2016, how do you think your sound and relationship has evolved over the years?
As we’ve become closer as friends and chosen family, the music has improved and become easier to make. We effectively form one brain of this project now, and so much of that is due to knowing each other’s melodic tendencies, production tips, and sources of inspiration. We also have a really honest and vulnerable relationship, which is such an important backbone to any kind of collaboration.
And now you guys have just dropped your new project “are we?” Take us through the production process and creating it in lockdown.
Our first record sotto voce was written remotely, while I lived in Santa Cruz and max lived in LA. We would pass projects back and forth, and trade small ideas as starters for songs. This record was a return to that dynamic, but more evolved. For “are we?” songs would come about usually one of two ways. In the first scenario, one of us would create something, be it a full-fledged song or just a voice memo, and we’d send it to the other. From there we’d either hop on zoom or the person receiving would add in their spice and sauce to create a new version. This could include new production elements, changing of tones, replaying parts, new lyrics, and vocal stacking. However, we always had a concept and overall sound of the track as a north star. The other scenario is starting from scratch. we’d both log onto Zoom, and using a plugin called Listento by Audiomovers, Max would stream his DAW, logic pro, to me. this way, I could hear the track in high def, in real-time. We would talk ideas, and I could record my parts and ideas in real-time into my daw. from there I’d upload them to a folder essentially making a sample pack for the song. As the instrumental filled out, we’d move onto topline and lyrics, using a similar system where we could both record things, audition them, and chop up our melodies into each other to make the best melody possible. This way of working is also what we did for our collaborations with crooked colours and Tim Atlas!
The project is super genre-bending and touches on a lot of sounds, sonically what inspired this project?
Working with new people definitely helped inspire some of the places this record goes. But to us, there was this guiding light of making tracks that feel pretty centre (to us), then through the writing and production process trying to drag it back left toward our sound. The most influential thing was breaking some of the core tenets of our sound: we used synthesizers and a ton of full voice rather than falsetto across this record. When we wrote sotto voce, we committed to falsetto and guitar (layered and manipulated) and this record is an expansion from that in a way that still feels natural.
And looking back on it, what song means the most to you and why?
Personally favourable, colours takes the cake for me. It’s not a single, but it was the first song we did collaborating remotely in this new way, and to me was such a beautiful example of really sharing the process in a balanced way. It’s carefree in sound, but was written from a place at the time of frustration. It’s a tangible reminder that through music, and through our bond we can transform difficult experiences into something beautiful and fun.
How do you think this project differs from your first “fabulist” EP?
Again, we definitely broke our own rules which was fun to do, using synths and full voice. In addition, “fabulist” is a full concept record with an overarching story told through the songs. “are we?” is the first record since sotto voce that doesn’t really have a hard set story-based concept beyond the title of “are we?” itself.
You’ve toured with Mura Masa and Passion Pit, what was this experience like?
Mura Masa was just one show, and if I remember correctly it was our first, so it was very intimidating! Passion Pit similarly was our first actual tour, going to different cities and playing large capacity rooms. It was a ton of fun, but also exhausting as we weren’t seasoned in terms of travel or performance. We can’t wait to return to some of those venues someday to headline though.
What’s next for you and what are you most excited for?
“are we?” is out Friday May 21, and we have a Livestream show the same day! We’re excited to see everyone this fall on a string of in-person shows we’re setting up, and of course, excited to make whatever music comes next.