Chromesthesia is a form of synesthesia which causes us to see colours when we hear music. It is a one hell of an amazing idea to base the whole record on, but you gotta be sure you have the skills and a great plan to explain it to the listeners, especially when you’re in a post hardcore ‘business’. California experimental, moody band MODERN COLOR (est. 2014) seem to have no trouble with that. Their recent record “Chromesthesia” is a well written work of art that finds the band doing exactly what IDIOTEQ is all about, reaching out to various audiences, blending various inspirations, and going beyond standard forms. MODERN COLOR does just that, completely on their own terms. We sat down with the band to learn more about their approach to writing, inspirations and local music scene. Experience chromesthesia and read the full interview below.
“Chromesthesia” by MODERN COLOR was engineered by Erol Ulug at Bright Lights Studios in Santa Ana, CA and is available via Open Door Records.
Hi guys! Thanks so much for taking some time with us!
There are surely thousands of hardcore related artists around the world drawing lots of inpirations from various rock and pop experiments. In contrast to the recent press releases and promotional posts on MODERN COLOR, I wouldn’t say you should be called a ‘melodic hardcore’ and certainly not a screamo band. ‘CHROMESTHESIA’ sounds more like a shoegazin’, experimental, ambient post hardcore effort with a tinge of haunted indie rock sprinkled atop. Apart from all the crappy genres’ names, what sounds and moods were you guys aiming at when you approached writing for this record? Tell us about how you balance between your inspirations and creative process.
Rad! Thank you for taking the time with us, the pleasure is ours.
When we first sat down to start writing this material about a year ago, we really only had ideas of what we wanted to sound like but we knew that we wanted to write stuff that was more musically driven and true to what we had fun playing. At the heart of things, we liked the raw, driving energy that hardcore had and we liked the depth and expression that existed in more melodic and ambient styles. So we took those ideas and tried to approach them with the perspective and energy that we had from inspiration through our personal lives. As we jammed things out in our practice room, we were able to hone in our ideas and turn them into a groove and flow that felt natural to us. Throughout the writing and recording process, there was a focus on what sounded and felt natural to us and I think that was the big key factor in guiding us with our sound.
I love the well-fitting title of ‘CHROMESTHESIA’. Tell me more about the lyrical idea for this record and your approach to writing. How important is that part of the band?
The title is actually more characteristic of what we envisioned at the heart of the music rather than anything lyrical, or at least any lyrical ideas came way later in the writing process. From the start, we wanted to write music that was more expressive in itself and not reliant on lyrics or words to paint a picture. That’s a huge focus point that has stuck throughout our creative process, even now. Shortly after we started jamming for the album, I was up late on Youtube one night watching weird educational videos and I came across one on chromesthesia. I just remembering feeling like the idea really resonated with us and what we were trying to do. I related it in the way that we were expressing ourselves by turning our thoughts and feelings into sound and color and when I brought it up to the guys, they all felt the same. I think having a clear vision of who you are and what you want to do as a band is important. It doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with your sound, it’s more like the mentality and energy that’s underneath all of it. I’m a strong believer that your music and performance will be better if you have something more than just the music behind what you do, both as an individual musician and as a band. I’m not sure if how I worded it makes sense haha.
Haha, sure! So what emotions were you trying to evoke with this record?
It was a lot of what we were feeling at the time. I don’t think this is a happy record but I wouldn’t say that it’s just sad or angry either. We did a lot of reflecting and I think we came to terms with a lot of it through our music.
Ok guys, so please drop us a couple of paragraphs about your local environment of Redondo Beach. How is your local scene and how does your neighborhood inspire what you do with MODERN COLOR?
Redondo Beach is awesome honestly. Redondo and the surrounding beach cities are part of an area called the South Bay, which we more generally consider our home as a whole. It’s pretty much LA, but not entirely. We live close enough to LA to be clumped into the bigger umbrella but the South Bay definitely has a vibe of its own. A lot of different cultures and ideas are available to us from living by LA, but in the South Bay it’s as laid back as it seems and I think it the overall vibe definitely influences our character and our music. The scene is great! There are a lot of cool bands and artists that have come out of this area, but there’s so much opportunity and activity around here that you really need to be determined and work hard to succeed. Specifically in the South Bay, there are a lot more DIY places to play that are cool but the bigger shows happen more in the Orange County and LA area, so a lot of the scenes kinda mesh together. The scene is wild and vast out here honestly, summing it up is hard. We’re proud to be a part of it though and we’re trying to make another mark for it with the music we make.
How do you think has the current digital era and overwhelming technology development shaped the independent music movement of today? Do you see young artists moving from live interactions to hiding behind their computers and mobile devices more often these days? Is new technology a threat to good old DIY music ethics and punk ideals?
People are definitely way more aware of themselves and the world around them. A lot of ideas and resources are available to everybody now. In a way it’s made a lot of things easier for bands and artists to create and connect with other people but in that same way it has also made things harder with so many people trying to do something now. Everyone seems like they want to be somebody but not everyone is as genuine or as dedicated and determined.
I’ve definitely noticed where we are relying and focusing too much on digital interactions. A lot of artists have sacrificed creating a real experience out of their music because they’re too focused on creating online personas.
I don’t think it’s a threat, I just think we need to learn how to use technology in a way that’s not just chasing convenience. In a lot of instances, technology has already been to the benefit of a lot of more underground and DIY efforts and mainstream efforts alike. We just have to keep pushing ourselves.
Ok guys, back to MODERN COLOR, have you already played some shows outside California?
Only a small handful so far but we’ve been able to make it out to Nevada, Arizona, and Texas! Right now we’re playing a lot up and down California but we’re trying to set up some runs at the moment so we can hit as many places as we can coming into the next year.
Finally, apart from touring, what’s next for MODERN COLOR?
More music and more shows, that’s really it right now haha. We have new material that we’ve been working on and demoing out, hopefully people will be able to hear something before the year ends. Other than that, we’re just trying to play as much as we can!
Photo by Salma Bustos
Cool. Thanks so much! Feel free to leave your final thoughts and take care!
Thanks for taking the time to listen to our music and talk to us. The support we’ve been receiving recently is more than anything we could’ve expected! Being able to connect with people through all of this is an amazing feeling and I hope we can keep on doing it. Please check out our new album if you haven’t and catch us at a show if we’re coming anywhere near you! Keep on supporting local artists and doing what you love.