Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sound Check: Cayucas (FPT x SXSW 2013)

Our next SXSW interview is with Cayucas' (ky-yook-us) frontman/songwriter Zach Yudin (above). Cayucas turned a lot of heads at SXSW with their catchy, beach-ready, pop songs. Tucked aside at the busy Austin venue Red 7, just off to the right of the outdoor stage, Kellen and Zach stood and chit-chatted about all things Cayucas.

FPT: So tell me how Cayucas started.

Cayucas (ZY): In 2010, it was just a "solo bedroom" thing, called Oregon Bike Trails, and then a year later, I signed to Secretly Canadian, we changed the band name to Cayucas because of the song name, and that's how it all started. I eventually put together the band.

Ok, so this was more of a solo project to start?

ZY: Yeah, and then I recorded the album, and realized I could use a band as far as touring goes.

Did you play and track everything on the album yourself then?

ZY: I played a lot of it, but also the producer, Richard Swift, improvised a lot -- bass lines and stuff - he did a lot. And then my brother, helped out a lot with recording on the album.

I had no idea you were a "family group" until I, obviously, just saw you.

ZY: Yeah, we're twins.

Right on, that all makes sense now. How's SXSW going for you so far?

ZY: It's been really fun. Smooth sailing surprisingly, a good ride. Just a good time; really hot.

Yeah, me being from Milwaukee, this is quite possibly the best weather I could have asked for.

ZY: Right see where I'm from, in Santa Monica, there's just no breezes it's just so dry. Dry Heat.

What sort of inspirations did you use to put together the album?

ZY: It was actually... I think it was Panda Bear a few years ago, and listening to his samples and loops of old 60s rock, I mean, he was sampling a lot of other things, but I kind of heard the rock songs he was sampling, and I was really into that. So i just kind of started doing that, and then I thought y'know "this would sound really cool with a 'surfer' vocal or catchy vocal parts over it. And then when we wrote the album, we just recreated and drew from a lot of that. I haven't been doing much of that lately, more writing songs from scratch now.

So "Cayucas" is derived from a destination/region in California, based on that is it safe to say you have a lot of pride in your roots? How much of where you're from comes forth within the band? 

ZY: Well, Cayucos is really just a destination that I'd visit a couple of times throughout college, and it just kind of fit the band, and fit what we wanted our sound to be like. It wasn't like I was born and raised there (laughs), I mean I love Cayucos, but it was more about the vibe I was going for.

When does the album come out? 

ZY: April 30th! Yeah, we're really pumped on it.

Bigfoot, right? How did that come about?

ZY: It was just a song on the album, and I thought - two parts- there's a "wolf man" character that was drawn up by our art guy on the cover on the album on a bike.. so maybe it should've been called Wolfman, but... he was just kind of the brand of everything we were working on. And I kind of thought and was hoping it would draw some attention to that track.

Are you specifically proud of that track?

ZY: Yeah, I like that one.

Right on, so a lot of your stuff has been compared to modern bands like Vampire Weekend, but I hear a lot more old 60s surf-rock, a la The Beach Boys. Is that intentional, are you guys necessarily trying to draw from that as a major inspiration?

ZY: Yeah just for the last couple of years, I have been really into the Beach Boys, so that was the main inspiration. I was trying to make it fresh, I couldn't really find myself doing the same things they were. So we would just kind of take the Beach Boys vibe and try and make it fresh.. not like a total throwback. 

Well I'm loving everything I hear so far. And we have a writer on the site, who I am supposed to tell you "LOVES" you guys.

ZY: (laughs) Well thank you, that's good to hear.

What are your thoughts on the current, kind of "indie" music, scene that's coming out? Do you have any favorites or anything you've been listening to a lot?

ZY: I feel like I listen to all things on Spotify. From Unknown Mortal Orchestra, to Foxygen, to new Vampire Weekend, I will listen to all of it. Pretty much anything.

Where do you see Cayucas fitting in with all of that?

ZY: That's the weird thing. Everyone has their own reference for a band, and the other day someone said "you guys are kind of like The Shins" based on how we are kind of difficult to put in to a single box or sound, and how it's very vocal heavy. So I thought that was interesting. When they first came out, it was difficult for me to pigeon hole them, no one really sounded like that.

Are you afraid of being pigeon hole'd? I know this is only your first album but..

ZY: You know, I've been getting a lot of the Vampire Weekend and Beck comparisons, and Beach Boys too, but like, I really like that. Those are great names to be compared to.

I always kind of feel bad, talking to a band and outright comparing them to someone or something else that's out there. It just doesn't seem fair.

ZY: Yeah someone came to us, and said something like "Yeah, you remind me of Incubus" or something like that.

Wait someone actually said that to you?

ZY: Yeah he actually said to me "You remind me of when Incubus was first starting out" it was kind of weird.

Well, that makes zero sense... I don't hear it.

What's a Cayucas show/tour like?

ZY: We're trying to get people to just like have fun, and get moving y'know? Like, right now, some people will sing a long to "High School Lover" and "Cayucos" and eventually we hope people will become familiar and start to move around a bit. "Swimsuit" too obviously.

For sure! You seemed to have a good response tonight.

ZY: Yeah we're getting there. Once the album comes out, that'll help.

Absolutely. My end cap question is usually this: How many albums do you see Cayucas making?

ZY: I don't know. I really don't. I'd like to say at least 3. The band is coming together through friends of friends, and we're just getting settled in as a band, y'know? Just kind of beginning to play as a band now. We'll see what happens with the next album and where that takes us. 

Cayucas' debut LP, Bigfoot will be out April 30 via Secretly Canadian, but if you pre-order today, you will get a digital copy of the album IMMEDIATELY. Quite the sweet deal, if you ask me. 

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