Updated: Oct 29, 2020
Curbside Press absolutely loves when local artists reach out to us with their art, and when Oregon band Chromatic Colors sent us their new music video, we were excited to share it with our readers. But we didn’t just stop there. We talked with them about their songwriting and the goal behind the band’s musical process. The group consists of Wil Bakula (keys), Katy Ohsiek (vocals and guitar), Nick Burton (bass), and Justin Kiavongcharoen (drums). The new music video for the song "Expectations" can be found further down this article. We interviewed Bakula, who directed the music video with videographer Isaac Turner, to get a look at what went into creating "Expectations.”
To understand the video, we first have to understand the band's sound. When you listen to their music, it can be difficult to pin down what genre of music Chromatic Colors makes. Their unique sound creates a compelling listening experience, filled with complexity that keeps you guessing at what will come next. Bakula explained their nuanced sound, saying, "I like to think we bring something very different to the table musically, a blend of catchy pop melodies and psychedelic jazz instrumentation. Our bio self-declares us as music [that’s] 'perfect for hipster parties and existential crises'. " The band originally started as a solo project of Bakula, but it quickly grew into a collaboration with Ohsiek, where she would write lyrics and melodies to his compositions. As the full group formed, Bakula says they never decided on one particular genre.
Bakula continued, adding:
"Over time, I've been trying to narrow our genre spread as much as possible, as it is apparent on our last album that many of our songs could be slotted into very different genres. We decided on 'pop-fusion' as a label since to us it most accurately described what we generally aim for, which is pop-esq melodies and catchy riffs over complicated fusion instrumentation. The musical space I've been working towards in terms of sound, is somewhere between jazz, neo-soul, and psych-rock."
Their last album release, Nature/Nurture, shows off their idiosyncratic compositions. This is expressed with instrumental songs like "The 7th Fold". The song’s instrumental synth build up turns into a catchy jazz beat that flows directly into "Strange/Uniform", which brings a drastic change of tempo and tone that somehow feels just right. The composition of each song on the album is clear and well defined, but the album as a whole moves constantly. Songs like "Fear/Plans'' show the band is not afraid to mix just about anything into their music. From the starting clicks of drumsticks and bird sounds that slowly build, to eccentric drum fills and a variety of horn riffs, the track has it all. Though instead of sounding chaotic or like unrefined noise, it comes off as a well thought out exploration of sound which is as expressive as it is fun to experience. Of the band's songwriting process, Bakula explained, "The songwriting was more collaborative for the last album we did since most of the members lived in one house together. I still wrote a lot of the content and produced/mixed everything, but that dynamic has shifted a lot since then... I've always led the band in terms of direction, but as the lineup has shifted in the past, the song composition has too." After the album was released, the direction and the future of the band was unclear. "We actually weren't sure if the band was going to continue after that album dropped since a few members had left the project, and everyone was moving away from our previous home in Salem", Bakula said. He continued, "Thankfully, things somehow worked out and we were able to find a new drummer and figure out how to practice, even though we lived in different cities." As they have been working on honing in their sound, the band has been working on a new EP, which is expected to come out in late summer and will include their new song "Expectations".
Much like their sound, the music video is unique and fun, creating an experience that raised a few questions. Like, what is with the space suits in the snow and why does Kiavongcharoen light his drum on fire? So we asked. Bakula, who produced the video, explained, saying: "The song composition for the new EP has been based on a specific aesthetic I have in mind, which includes a plethora of reference songs, and some physical art. I wanted to do the same thing with the video; focus mainly on the aesthetic of the shots rather than trying to tell a story. So both the spacesuits and the fire were things picked for the aesthetic against the snowy backdrop… The other members of the band actually didn't really have any idea of my vision until seeing the final product. It made it quite funny to shoot things that they had no idea why they were doing something, but they trusted me and I think we all agreed it came out quite well." As one would expect, a music video set in a snowy landscape comes with challenges: Risk of snow the day of, the biting cold, sunwashed lighting that forced them to keep searching for shade. All of this was compounded by the fact they had to shoot everything in one day. Perhaps all the chaos was fitting, however, since it all comes together to create a music video fit for a band as distinctive as Chromatic Colors. Chromatic Colors has a new EP coming out (projected for sometime later this summer). You can check out their currently released music on Spotify or Apple Music, and you can view their music videos and other video content on their Youtube channel. Visit their website at http://www.chromaticcolors.com
It’s that easy to get highlighted on Curbside Press, so if you or someone you know is an artist of any kind, let us know by reaching out on social media or by filling out the form on our Contact page. For more highlights of local artists all over the Pacific Northwest, follow Curbside Press on all our social media pages, and check back at curbsidepress.org for more new content every week. To become a paid subscriber, unlocking premium content and access to our archive, follow this link to buy a plan today. We need your help to spread the word about awesome local art, so share the love for Curbside Press by liking this article and sharing it with the art lovers in your life.