Artist Spotlight - Cones
(Photo Credit - Roman Koval)
We had the opportunity to interview alt act Cones! This duo make dynamic psychedlic alt-pop music that just hooks you. They recently released their album 'Pictures of Pictures' to acclaim. Check out their music and check out our interview!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"I've been playing music for a long time. I started piano lessons when I was six, and I became pretty serious about classical piano and composition in high school. This lead me to study music in college at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. So it's always been the main focus in my life. After college, I became more interested in playing in bands, producing, and engineering music."
"Jonathan arrived at music very differently. He was more interested in visual art and writing early on. At a certain point, he learned guitar to start writing songs to express his lyrics. He's always had a really great ear for pop, and a strong ability to express his words through that format. In closing, I've always been more technical and academic with music, while it has been more of a discovery for Jonathan."
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"I always write on an acoustic guitar. I tend to have the belief that a good song should be able to exist on just a guitar and vocals, however I’ve been trying to challenge that belief recently. I often write to a beat that I make on my phone and then just cycle through chords while throwing melodies on top for a while, until something feels right. Lyrics are always last for me. I feel like I need to understand the energy of the song before I know what it’s going to be about. Sometimes I record myself singing meaningless words, listen back to the recording the next day and realize that I was actually expressing something coherent and interesting. Turning on the tap of your subconscious can often create some happy accidents. Then I’ll go and fix the grammar and make lots of adjustments until it all feels good. Usually I have a song mostly written before I bring it into the studio with Michael, but sometimes we either reproach the structure together or build something entirely from scratch together. It depends on the song, but it’s always fun."
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"I’m obsessed with Bob Dylan and I love the Beatles. I’m not afraid to say that they will always be my biggest inspiration. I listen to a lot of new wave - psychedelic furs have been on my speakers a lot recently. Joni Mitchell destroys me. I like Bill Evans when I don’t want to think about anything (listening to him now). I read a lot of poetry, which is so related to songwriting. Right now I’m reading Raymond Carver’s collected poems. I think a poem is somewhere between a drawing and a song - and those are two of my favorite things in life. So I guess poetry is really just the most sublime thing in the world! I also love Sublime."
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"Tough question! I have a lot of gear I love to use. I started a recording studio called Honeymoon Suite in LA with my partners Dent May (of Dent May) and Pat Jones (engineer for Toro Y Moi and Washed Out), and we have some really fun equipment. We have some great 80's effects like the Lexicon 200 Reverb, Lexicon Primetime, H3000, etc. My favorite piece of gear we use in the studio, though, would have to be the original Arp 2600 synthesizer (think original Star Wars R2D2 sounds)."
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"Not all live shows are equal. At our favorite live shows, the audience is loose, having a good time, not too serious, in complete admiration of us..."
"We've recently been projecting my brothers animations at shows. I do some creative tech stuff, so I make them interact to the sounds from the stage. People seem to dig it."
"My favorite thing about a venue is when they have a pool table, because I love pool."
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"That we put a ton of love and care into making it, and we hope you feel that while listening."
7. Tell us about the writing, recording, and promotion process for Pictures of Pictures.
"We wrote and recorded Pictures of Pictures in somewhat of a state of chaos, albeit a very focused and grounded kind of chaos. We had just finished mixing an entire album that we decided to shelve. We were pretty bummed about that. I took a little road trip by myself for a few days, and came back with the first new song for the LP, called laugh of the party. From then on out we just hustled and wrote so much and channeled a strong current of creativity. We struggled a lot too - a few months into making it we got pretty burnt out, or at least I did. I remember thinking “why am I so drained?” and then remembering we were making our second album in less than a year. Michael and I grew very close making this record - even closer than we already were somehow. We rejoiced and fought and he put up with my stubbornness and I dealt with his stuff because that’s what you do when you’re brothers and in a band. We got to collaborate with some dear friends on the album, and when it was all said and done we made something we felt truly proud of, and entirely responsible for. As soon as we finished, the promotion began, which was a lot for me because I designed all the album artwork and animated all the videos for it. Michael (evil genius) programmed an insane immersive app called Bob’s Room which is a strange visual/experiential companion to the album. It’s always weird putting something out - there’s such a postpartum thing that happens. I felt pretty empty for a month or two afterwards but I’m really excited with what we’re creating in the studio right now. It feels good to be back."