Collin Desha’s most indelible memories were formed growing up in Hawaii in his native culture’s lifestyle — surrounded by the ocean and traditional Hawaiian music. It wasn’t until the self-proclaimed “surf punk kid” picked up the ukulele at 12 years old that he found his life’s calling. “That’s essentially what got me into music,” he says. “I still surf, but once the music thing took over, that changed the course of my life.”
At 17, Desha arrived in Los Angeles, green and hungry to expand his musical identity. “I was so secluded in Hawaii creatively and musically,” he says. “So once I got here, I tried to absorb everything the scene had to offer." He also imprinted upon films like Alfonso Cuarón’s dystopian classic Children of Men and cinema auteurs like Stanley Kubrick and applied the sense of wonderment they instilled in him to his own craft. “How can I distort the process? How can I do something that’s different, or creatively different than just writing a song?” he remembers thinking.
Inspired by his LA peers who controlled their creative process, from writing to recording to production, Desha adopted the moniker Low Hum and set up his home studio, determined to write with “no boundaries.” Shortly after meeting Parisian drummer/producer Jules De Gasperis, the two west coast transplants began working together, which resulted in the five-track EP lowhum, showcasing Low Hum’s honeyed, haunting vocals and subtle psychedelic arrangements reminiscent of Tame Impala.
These understated yet profound pop sensibilities suffuse Low Hum’s forthcoming full-length, Room to Breathe. From the chugging sprawl of lead single “Strange Love,” inspired by the film Dr. Strangelove, to “Crimson Cardinal,” a powerful meditation on depression and loss following the death of a very close friend, the LP will be a fittingly widescreen introduction to Desha’s music. “Not a lot of people know Low Hum, and that’s what I’m really excited about,” he says. “There’s a lot to share.”
If one is to cast their vision far enough out to sea, their eyes will eventually settle on a point where the line between ocean and space becomes indistinguishable. Two unexplored frontiers intertwined in a beautiful, pseudo-psychedelic moment of infinite hope that begets the desire to pursue adventure. It is here that LA-based psych-pop duo, SWIMM, live creatively. Originally hailing from the stretch of Floridian beach known as the ‘Space Coast’, where residents deal with the sonic resonance of space shuttles shaking their houses and watch rockets launch into space from the beach, SWIMM has created a sound that blends ethereal soundscapes and sun-soaked, beachy vibes; a perfect representation of the unique place in which they grew up. When you add the poignant satire that the band tends to favor lyrically, SWIMM’s music takes on the delicate balance of thoughtful musicianship, social awareness and immediate relatability that seems to be the common thread shared amongst most bands that are considered timeless.
SWIMM”s latest release, the Beverly Hells EP (24West Records), maintains all of the traits that led to their debut Feels EP catching the eye of so many tastemakers around the blogosphere, but it also picked up a level of maturity and thoughtfulness that came along with the “culture burst” (as Hess describes it) of moving to Los Angeles. If you listen to the record, their new city has a very distinct influence over the lyrics and mood of each of the effort’s six tracks. From the tongue-in-cheek satire of LA culture that forms the basis of the EP’s title track, to the reflection on the duo’s friendship and pursuit of their dreams in “All The Time”, the EP is very much a statement on this formative experience for the band and the artistic evolution that has since taken place.
As every Angeleno-transplant knows, turbulent times are synonymous with sunny days. Like walking through a hallway of mirrors, SWIMM’s Beverly Hells EP paints a vivid picture of their adopted home city’s neverending search for validation and reason.