Unlike many other genres and music communities, the indie/alt culture appreciates new and rising artists that create diversity and new insights within the genre.
We constantly feature notable indie and alternative artists on the verge of success. Meet this week’s featured artist in an exclusive interview, Captiva:
We recently talked in-depth with Pat McQuaid, JJ Ries, Nick Riffle, and Hank Wiedel to find out more about the group's influences, creative process, and of course their take on all things alternative culture. Read on to find out more about how this amazing group creates such infectious sounds.
As a band, some of our fondest memories include our very first show at Czar Bar in Kansas City, MO. The entire club was packed, which was so motivating for us at the time. We didn't realize, until then, that we had an opportunity to connect with others through our music. We also really loved playing at SXSW in Austin, TX this past year. There is nothing more exciting (or intimidating) than performing for a new audience every night. We've also shared some of the same wonderful experiences as listeners and fans, including watching The Lonely Biscuits perform at Crossroads in Kansas City three years ago. That show inspired Jackson to learn guitar, which led to him being able to perform on that same stage about a week ago. Seeing The Lumineers was pretty awesome, too.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
Recently, Pat's been getting into Robin Pecknold's solo material, like 'White Antelope'. His acoustic/folk songs really inspire Pat's writing. Hank has been listening to Northern Faces and some more alternative/indie artists. He enjoys dissecting the structure of their songs, which helps him apply newer techniques to our own tracks. Nick really loves rock and roll, especially Southern folk/rock acts like Sturgill Simpson. He also finds a lot of musical inspiration from jam bands like Papadosio and My Morning Jacket. Jackson listens to absolutely everything, especially Twenty One Pilots.
How did you all meet and decide to collaborate into forming Captiva? What were your musical backgrounds before working together? How is this different from any previous projects?
Captiva began with Pat and JJ, who were neighbors during high school. They would walk to each others' houses and write music together. Then, Hank and Pat met in detention and began discussing recording, which is when we started performing. Nick was added a few months later, and has been a huge blessing to us. Next thing we knew, we had started a God-damned musical expedition together.
Something we find interesting here at IndieBeat is how the base city of artists impacts their creative process and sound formation. Hank, being a talent buyer for the Riot Room, running WKC Management and being an alumni of the Grammy Museum how would you describe the Kansas City music scene? How has the city inspired Captiva into developing your sound?
The Kansas City music scene is full of amazing, unrecognized talent. I get the pleasure of seeing all different styles of music in the community, yet each one plays a major role in the structure of the scene in KC. Captiva has found a lot of motivation within KC, after seeing hard-working musicians give everything they have to pursue their dreams. We have really tried to branch out to other markets as well, and explore what is available to us.
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process?
Pat begins his writing process by recording a 10-second clip of a guitar riff on his iPhone voice memos. Then he proceeds to evolve the riff into the song. Jackson is constantly experimenting with new chord progressions, and enjoys writing the chorus first before anything else. Nick is always practicing, so his creative mindset comes within his musical improvement. Hank usually finds inspiration through playing piano and constructing chord progressions that way.
You mention your focus on stage performances and creating a visual spectacle at your live show. How would you describe those visual elements? How do you approach this aspect of your artistry? When writing music, are you conscious of what you want to be visually displayed?
Stage presence is the name of the game for us. Putting all of our energy into each performance will reward us with an even more energetic crowd. We always toss up ideas of how we will perform each song while we are writing it. This is one of the most important parts of the writing process for us.
You guys have been touring the festival circuit this summer. Can you tell us about your experiences on this tour, especially playing the renowned SXSW. How has it been different from playing local and small-room shows?
Well, festivals are like our bread and butter. Everything that we do during a live show is amplified during festival gigs. There is always a different aura within festivals that is not so apparent during club shows. We love performing, regardless of the venue or location. But we have definitely learned a lot from festival performances, and these shows have helped shape our relationship with the fans. SXSW was a dream, and some amazing memories were created there. Can't wait for next year!
As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?
Online streaming is something that benefits both the fan and the creator, yet harms the artist's revenue. Today, you can put a song on the internet and be heard by millions within hours, which is incredible. However, with the rise in streaming and illegal downloading, the artist loses a lot of income due to higher accessibility. As a fan, the benefits completely outweigh the negative side of this issue. But as musicians, we are forced to trade revenue for track plays. It all depends on how you look at it, and we believe that the music itself should be top priority over the money. We don't do this for dollars, we do it for the fans.
What is your dream collaboration and why?
Pat: My dream collaboration would be with Mac DeMarco. His style is something I dig very much, and I think I could match his style with my guitar playing if I put enough work into it.
JJ: Twenty One Pilots
Hank: Hot Hot Heat
Nick: The Grateful Dead
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
We have a new EP coming out in the fall. We've spent a lot of time writing new music, which has helped our style progress a lot more. The tracks on the upcoming EP are very "pop/alternative", but with the same funky flair as our other music. Hopefully the listeners love it. In addition to this, Pat and JJ write their own material during their free time to stay exercised, both mentally and musically.
Fans can expect an entirely different sound, but the same energy. We've progressed and matured as artists, and it has shown through our more recent recordings. After we started creating new music, we became very comfortable during the recording process. Each studio session is entirely different from the last, which keeps us on our toes. It's really exciting stuff.
Finally, a question we ask all of artists: which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
1. "Let Her Go" by Mac DeMarco
2. Anything off of Tame Impala's newest album, "Currents"
3. "Hometown" by Twenty One Pilots
New acts? Definitely Northern Faces. They rule. Best kept secret? New Madrid and Sol Cat. Those dudes are cool.