Summer Cooke and David Duarte of female-fronted rock band Violitt join us at the adorable Tickle Tree Cafe in La Crescenta, CA to discuss the vulnerability of their music, creating works that feel natural to your artistry, and their belief in the amazing things that can come from social media.
You recently released your latest single “Poet.” Congratulations!
Summer Cooke: Thank you!
Would you like to share with us a little bit about the story of how the song came to be lyrically, as well as the instrumentation that you chose to feature?
Summer: For sure! “Poet” is based around a close friend of mine who goes by the alias/nick name, Poet. I met him close to four years ago after a friend of mine started an outreach initiative at Skid Row. Skid Row is located in Downtown Los Angeles and it is one of the largest communities experiencing homelessness in all of the nation. Over time, I started to develop friendships within the community and I would bring my guitar as a way to create an environment of music. Music has always been my go-to as far as processing, therefore, I started to write songs as a way to create connection and understanding. There is so much stigma when it comes to those experiencing homelessness, addiction, etc. and I had this deep desire to bridge the gap through music. I know for me, music has been a space where I truly lean in and listen. I thought, ‘if people could just lean in and listen, especially to those they may see through a judgement or filter, they would quickly realize that we are all the same.’ We’ve all felt some degree of hopelessness, feeling persecuted, marginalized, misunderstood, etc. and the songs I started to develop quickly became about the vast majority. The songs we’ve recently released are based around my friends, however, it’s our hope that you, personally, will find solace and comfort within them too. I found my best friends on Skid Row, and to this day we remain family. I would say that Poet is pretty much like a father figure to me. He is always looking out for those around him. The song “Poet,” with Poet’s permission, is based around him. Poet was involved in the development of the song and would give insights, suggestions, etc. every step of the way. It was so neat to have him involved in the process.
That’s so cool!
Summer:Yeah! Poet is open about his connection to God and it’s something I truly admire. He has fought through a lot of noise to arrive at so much hope. It is very humbling, and I can relate to that, we all can. This song is not only my recognition and nod to him, but it’s also his hope for humanity that people may see life through a hopeful lens. His victory, is my victory, is your victory, etc. Poet has a heart for advocacy and has encouraged every step of this process so that as a team, as Violitt, we can do just that. It’s a collaborative effort. Poet and I partner together to use the song as a platform to raise awareness for recovery and hope, recovery from any sort of trap that prevents you from seeing hope. What’s, also, one of my favorite parts about this whole project is that Poet will actually come out to all of our shows and talk about his story. Through music, essentially I want it to be a way that I can advocate about the passions that tug at my heart, like recovery, mental health, addiction, homelessness. We can sometimes look at the world through a very narrow lens and I want to expand that for people. I want to use music as a platform to say ‘I’ve been there, he’s been there, you’re not alone, let’s get through this together.’
Absolutely. That’s why the phrase ‘music is what feelings sound like’ is so prominent and relatable. In a way, we all crave the emotional connection that music is able to provide to us.
David Duarte: I think you should mention the perspective that the song was written from too.
Summer: Yeah, and if you listen to the song, the first half of it is written from his perspective to God, and that struggle of ‘Is God even there? Is this, what I’m going through, is all of this worth it?’ The second verse is my interpretation, or my perspective, of what God would be saying to him, with the end of the song wrapping up with Poet’s voice, if you listen very carefully, reconciling with God that he will continue to wait and continue to seek.
David: You can hear it pretty clearly in the song, at the end of it, yeah.
Summer: It’s his resolve with God. “I’ll continue to wait, until you find me,” that’s what he says. It’s his story of believing and hoping for the things he can’t tangibly see. It’s been beautiful to journey with him. Poet was given his name because he loves to write. He writes beautiful poetry, and he’s always encouraging me to write from an authentic and open place. I really love the juxtaposition between light and dark when it comes to creating music with this project. Therefore, a lot of the sounds and instrumentation, especially in “Poet,” have that doom-wave, neo-noir, experimental, heavy vibe, however, the lyrics are very hopeful. I wanted to play with the idea of light within the dark, hope in the midst of sorrow, etc. I think everybody could relate to that, feeling that sense of hopelessness, and finding that one thing that they can believe in, whatever that looks like for them.
And how was the recording and writing process for this song similar or different from that of your past work?
Summer: I was recording with a good friend of mine named David Greco. I was writing everything acoustically and wasn’t sure what I wanted the band to sound like. I was doing the singer-songwriter thing for a little bit and wanted to involve more people in my vision. I came to David like ‘Hey, here’s this song, (which was “Casper”) let’s work on it!’ with my hands wide open. I trust Greco as an artist and visionary, so it was easy to hand my tunes over to him. When I met with him, we sat down and just talked for a good two hours in his living room. I appreciated that so much because he took the time to sit with me, hear about the song, hear my my heart, hear about Casper, and where I wanted to go with the song. It gave us time to really connect and process the vision together. From there, David Greco created the foundation of the sound for Violitt, which is a dark-wave, 80’s inspired melodic rock, that I got so stoked on! With “Casper,” we had a lot of cooks in the kitchen, but I also think that was beneficial for that particular song. One of my friends named Adrian Bourgeois, came in, had his guitar sitting on his lap, got a spoon out, and started banging the spoon on the guitar. We were like, ‘What?!? That’s so cool!’ Creatively, people were putting different inputs for the song, even given the nature of the song, which is about freedom from addiction. But with “Poet,” it was just me and him *gestures to David* working on that together. There’s pros and cons to everything. With “Casper,” it was necessary to involve multiple people within the process. David Duarte then stepped in, mixed it and ran with it. With “Poet,” it was just David Duarte and myself. I wanted “Poet” to fit within the same vein and vibe that was similar to “Casper.” I really found my sound through our first track. I wanted to continue with the theme of light in the dark, heavy sounds, and hopeful lyrics.
And it definitely shows! I feel like nowadays we really do need that type of music in our lives. A lot of people are just so down, and sometimes it’s hard for people to see that light at the end of the tunnel.
Summer: Exactly! Whatever that looks like for you, I want to support you towards just that — to hope, to belief, to life. I spent a lot of time psychoanalyzing my life, and honestly, I went into a state of depression for a while. I think music is such a beautiful tool for people to really connect, heal, and relate. To feel understood and seen. That’s why I do what I do! *turns to David* Do you want to say anything about the production?
David: Yeah! With the production on “Poet,” it was important for me to know the story behind it. She told me the whole story with, and then she structured the song and guided me through how it should sound. The same happened with “Casper,” she told me Casper’s story when I mixed that, and we worked from there. I try to really evoke those emotions through the production, and there’s definitely ways to do that. Sonically, you’ve gotta get that right feeling in what you’re hearing. Before you pay attention to the lyrics, the melody and the sound has got to be there.
Summer: *gestures to David* I’m very thankful I met this guy! I randomly ran into an old friend, and I told her that I was looking for a producer to work with because my old producer moved to Portland. She was like, ‘I have the best person for you!’ so it was kind of a blessing in disguise. I walked into his studio and there was a Deftones poster, a Led Zeppelin poster, a Radiohead poster and I was like, ‘Yes! Ok! This is gonna work!’
It was a sign from the universe!
Summer: Yes! *laughs*
In regards to the way that music listening is more focused on single releases and EP releases, do you think that there are certain reasons why the music industry is just so into those kind of releases as opposed to full-lengths?
David: I think I can answer that. For bands, like legacy bands and big international acts, albums are very much still the way for them. But they have a whole world to market to that a lot of artists just don’t have. Also, the life cycle of an album that those big-named artists put out have legs where they’ve got a couple years where they can tour on that album. A local artist that doesn’t have money or label backing to be able to do that. So what are they going to do? Spend all of their life savings making an album and have it gain traction over time from local fans and stuff? Sure, but the idea is to start with singles to build up to that full work. For one, it gives you a chance to budget and continue to build and gain fans organically. No label is gonna pick you up without being a proven commodity because in order to break a band, it costs a lot of money, and there’s not that kind of money to break a band anymore. You have to have already proven that you’re gonna put in the work because, let’s face it, most artists are not willing to put in the work. They don’t take it as serious as they should. Maybe they have other priorities,but it’s really upon the artist to take it professionally and take it seriously. Making singles is the right way to go at an early stage, *gestures to Summer* especially for her. Right now we’re trying to develop the band, develop the sound all the way, find the right scene to fit in, and then have it organically grow. She couldn’t start with making an entire album right now because it would give her no experience playing live, and people need to hear your music and hear what you’re about early on. We live in an age where you can get a professional sounding recording for relatively low cost. The cost of entry is not like it was twenty or thirty years ago where it was prohibiting for an artist. Back then, when you first started you were just making demos. A band would play, and they would practice, and they would play out, and then they would make a few song demos, or call it an EP, that would be to thrown in your press kit to give to labels and shop around. Nobody expected it to sound great. These days, there’s so much music out there that it better sound great.
Plus you rarely see demos nowadays.
David: In my opinion, you shouldn’t see demos. *laughs*
Technology’s come such a long way, it’s almost like demos don’t even really do anything now.
David: They don’t, in fact, they might work the opposite for you because somebody might hear your demo and think, ‘Oh, I don’t know, they don’t sound that great,’ and they might not ever give you another shot. A lot of times, you get one listen and that’s it! We’re inundated with so many different types of music that sometimes I forget about the legitimately good artists. And then I’ll come back to them again and be like, ‘Oh my God! Why haven’t I been listening to this band? I really love their music!’ *all laugh*
We’re very much into the stop and go kind of lifestyle right now, especially in L.A. There’s so much going on all the time!
David: Right!?! *laughs* But I do think it’s a cool place to be. If you are motivated, you can have more control of your art at the beginning stages, you can develop your band as you see fit, and then when you get to that level where you’re getting label attention, or national attention, whatever it is, then you hold the cards. You have more control over your destiny nowadays, and I think that’s really cool, whereas in the old days you didn’t really have that. Labels would give developmental deals, but they had a specific idea of who you were going to be as an artist. You’ll have the A&R guys in there with the producer and the band, but the band doesn’t have final say, or a lot of times didn’t. You go back to a band like Radiohead, who hated Pablo Honey because they didn’t have all of the control that they wanted to. Even though it was a cool record, the next couple of records were a whole lot better.
Summer: It’s been neat releasing the singles because it’s like a taste test, you know? Each single, I am learning more about my sound and where I want to go with my music and the band. It’s been fun for me because I’m forming my sound and where I want to go as I go with each single.
You just never know where you’re gonna be until you actually start doing it, and feeling out what your music is supposed to be. Some people can be like, ‘Yeah, I wanna be a pop singer!’ but sometimes they could end up being a country singer, or even in a rock band!
David: Absolutely! Authenticity is first and foremost, and then pairing it up with the right people to collaborate with to get the best out of it. When you have an objective point of view, outside on your own, you might see yourself as one type of artist. But somebody outside that, like myself, could see you going in a different direction. Or you might meet some people who want to be in a hard rock band but you’re like, ‘Dude, your voice is great for country!’ *all laugh*
A good example is Cassadee Pope. She was in a band called Hey Monday, pretty much Paramore-style music, and then she went on The Voice, and now she has a pretty good country career!
Summer: That’s such a difference!
David: I had no idea she was in pop-punk band before. *laughs*
Especially if you’re just discovering her now.
David: But yeah, that is often the case. What would you rather have? A career that actually fits you well of course. You can like whatever music you wanna like, and you can still write that kind of music too. There’s nothing that says that you have to write in the genre that you’re in.
Yeah. Her music is still Hey Monday style but the country version. *laughs*
David: Well, if you look at the chord progressions and the melodies between the two, it’s all the same at its core, which is fine because that’s what the majority of what people like. It’s easily digestible and the melodies tend to be catchy, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Then it all goes back to the lyrical content as to how they differentiate from each other.
David: Yeah, exactly.
So a little question for you both about social media. In a way, it’s pretty much taken over as the main form of marketing, whether we like it or want to admit it. Do you feel that it’s created more opportunities for independent artists to make names for themselves? Or do you think it’s made it harder?
Summer: Dang! I want to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ just speaking from personal experience. The opportunities that social media can provide are great. We just partnered with an app called AudioBridge, and they found us off of Instagram. It’s just so cool because I wouldn’t have known about that app otherwise.
David: It’s like a collaboration app for musicians.
Summer: Yeah! It’s like a recording system within your pocket that you can record demos on…
David: …That goes into the Cloud.
Summer: Yeah! That’s the beautiful thing about social media, you can make connections that much faster. It’s actually starting to act like your business card nowadays where people are like, ‘Oh, I don’t need your business card, what’s your Instagram?’ which is kind of interesting.
David: That’s 100% true. I feel like social media is like a constant reminder of that person. Although, if your social media sucks or it’s a constant low value, or no value, I might end up unfollowing you. I’m really not about the ‘Here’s us taking a shot!’ kind of stuff. I don’t care about that.
Summer: I think it has helped open doors for people to find different avenues of displaying their art, for instance digital graphics and photography. But the flip side to it is that people are spending a lot of time on it. I notice that new algorithms for Instagram pretty much say you have to be posting 24/7 in order for people to see your post, and that takes away from the creative process. If I’m trying to be a musician/artist right now, I find myself thinking a lot about, ‘Oh, I have to post to get people to see my stuff, how do I do that?’ I think it can become a trap if you get too absorbed in it.
It’s a trap!
Summer: It is! *laughs*
David: You also have to be engaged, like, you can’t be somebody who just posts. When people comment on your posts, you need to reply to them, and have a conversation and build those relationships. If you just post and don’t acknowledge that other people like your stuff, or vice-versa, it’s not gonna go anywhere. But the algorithms know that too, so if you’re just using social media from a selfish point of view then the algorithm is paying attention. *turns to Summer* And like you said, it’s a full-time thing to have to constantly be posting.
I mean, that’s why social media jobs have opened up in the past few years, because it’s such a booming and crazy market. No one has time to do it!
David: Yeah, I’m certainly not great at it. *laughs* From a consumer point of view though, it can also be very manipulative. You, the person scrolling through, is the product. The platform is not the product, the consumer is the product, and it gets a little creepy and manipulative because you’re getting marketed to constantly. Now from a business point of view it’s great, because you can target the specific people that like the bands that you like. That’s really cool, because you’re not wasting money trying to reach a certain group but not having success at it. Getting on a TV show might sound great, but you might reach two million viewers. Or with a radio ad or something, you might reach about two million listeners. But how many of those listeners are actually going to put through and go to whatever you’re offering or even just check you out? A super small percentage, if any. And then on top of that, how much did you spend to do that? Now with social media, you’re spending hardly anything on your ads and you can get some return from it quickly. So, it’s got some pros and some cons. *turns to Summer* Like you said, you can connect to your fans a lot easier and network with other people.
Summer: Yeah! I’ve met so many other bands through social media, and getting to see them play in L.A. and supporting them has been a really cool too!
David: Yeah! I’m friends with other producers and engineers all over the world, which is really cool, because you never know where life will take you.
Summer: Yeah, even through social media, if I am looking to hire someone such as a drummer, guitarist, photographer, etc. I can actually see their portfolio or footage of them in one click. So it kind of shows me a little bit of their style whereas back before social media you would have to audition them, or put out ads. And then it would take awhile to find someone that you vibe with or connect with.
David: So yeah, social media helps, but it’s a tool to be used along with going to local events and shows.
Summer: I’m a very relational person, so sometimes social media gives me anxiety. I feel like social media can be a trap because we’re stuck on our phone and we’re not connecting. I mean, we are connecting through an avenue that is a phone, but I’d rather be with someone one on one.
David: Especially for a serious conversation. So much gets lost in translation.
Oh definitely! And staying on the topic of social media, do you feel like it adds a pressure to always have something going on? Or portray yourself in a certain way to whoever is looking at your profiles?
Summer: I would say, for me, the pressure has been more like, ‘Man, I feel like I’m constantly on my phone even though I don’t want to be’ Because I’m kind of doing everything on my own, as far as marketing and getting the different pages running and all of that, it’s a little hard to balance everything sometimes. I guess if there’s any kind of pressure it’s that pressure of wanting to write instead of focusing on what image to put next or connecting or networking and stuff like that. I’m very relational, I wanna go out and meet people, and even though social media has been a beautiful thing that’s allowed me to meet people through that, I feel like I’m constantly finding myself having to be on my phone in order to “network,” you know?
David: Yeah, it can definitely take you out of the moment, especially when you’re out at live shows. You’re just like, ‘Hold man, I gotta film this! Hold on, I gotta post this to Instagram. I gotta put a cute emoji on there! Gotta make sure everybody’s tagged!’ but then I just missed three other songs in that time that would have been cool to see. Personally, I would like to be totally free of any of that.
This is why you Insta-story when shit’s happening, and then you do the picture in-between bands. *all laugh*
David: I like doing Latergrams. *laughs* I’ll enjoy the moment, and then I’ll post about it later.
Summer: Speaking of hashtags, you know what’s kind of sad? We used to call it pound back in the day! Now everybody calls it ‘hashtag!’
David: You mean the number sign?
Summer: Yes! It’s so sad, I thought it was called ‘pound’ when the hashtags started! I’m old! *all laugh*
Oh Lord-y! *laughs*
So going back to getting to see other bands live and such. Do you feel like there’s an unpublicized competition between all of the artists in the L.A. music scene?
Summer: If there is, I don’t want to know. *laughs* I don’t want to be involved in drama and all of that. I think that competitiveness takes away from the beauty of music and connection, but for me personally, I don’t think I’ve given myself over to find out if that’s even happening.
David: I personally don’t see a cutthroat music scene, at least in the scenes that we’re a part of. The scenes that we’re a part of are super supportive of each other, like, everybody comes out to each other’s shows, and everybody’s trying to lift one another up. Westside Revival for example, that whole crew and scene is all about wanting to be the best rock community in L.A. and to elevate everybody up. To quote Hillary, “We’re stronger together!” Right? But it’s true, you can’t just be a lone maverick out there trying to do it all by yourself.
Summer: And there’s no fun in that!
David: Absolutely not! And if you think back to the history of music, especially rock music, all the great music came out of local scenes. When you look back to Seattle, New York, and in different times, London, those were some super tight-knit scenes. You would see these awesome artists playing on a bunch of different records and with all of these different all-time great musicians, and they weren’t cutthroat about it. They were like, ‘No. Let’s just make cool music.’
Summer: And have fun and support each other!
David: Yeah! And guess what? Everybody gets elevated because of that!
All the support and elevation!
And have you guys seen any differences in regards to the different areas that you’ve played in? Like, how people react to an artist coming through, or audience engagement and support?
Summer: I don’t think it’s necessarily the areas, but maybe the booking agencies I’ve worked with. They’re all pretty different in how they book and run their shows, so I have seen differences in that, but as far as areas, I don’t really see a difference. David just talked a little about Westside Revival, and they have a pretty good show that they do at Harvelle’s that has been really cool to see. They bring in a lot of people, and like David was saying, they’re all super supportive. Everybody’s coming to just have fun and have a good time. That’s what music is for, to bring community and connection, and it’s been really beautiful to see. I think that L.A. has a rep of showing up, playing their slot, and then their whole audience leaves and doesn’t support the other bands.
David: I think with that, it’s just promoters filling up time slots. They don’t care about the artist at all or care about building a scene, and that’s just not good long term for them or for anybody else.
And it’s super noticeable too when you’ve got like a folk-y band first, and then a hard rock band after, and then ending with a singer-songwriter type artist.
David: Oh totally. And I’m all for a line up being eclectic and diverse, but at the same time, it should all fit into something, not just totally off the wall stuff. You want those people who came for the first band to stay for the others, so if it’s totally different, and especially if nobody knows each other, well guess what? That first band, the people that are gonna come see them, are just gonna come to see them. And then the second band will have people that are just gonna come see them too. You might get 200 people through the door in the night, but at any given time, realistically it’s like forty or fifty maybe, and that’s on a ‘good’ night. We all understand that the venue’s gotta keep their lights on, so they have to make a profit that’s a given. I just think that there’s a better way to go about it. Like, let the artist and the bands that really put in the work to create an event at every show. It’s totally possible, and it is happening.
So if you could go on a world tour and take three artists with you, who would you choose and what you name your tour?
Summer: Ok, so this changes every day, because it depends on the mood I’m in. Hmm, I would love to go on a tour with Thom Yorke! I’m also a big fan of The Cure. If I could see Robert Smith perform consecutively over the course of a few months, that would be a dream. And the last one would be Garbage. I think it would be really fun and educating to go on tour with Shirley Manson.
David: Foo Fighters would be awesome too!
Summer: I was literally about to say Dave Grohl! *laughs*
David: Or Muse!
Summer: Yeah! Muse would be so awesome!
David: I would love to go on tour with U2, because I think that would be the biggest stage we’d ever play.
Summer: Ah, yes! I would cry! *all laugh* See! It just depends on my mood! I would literally say all those bands too!
David: It’s like a religious experience. *laughs*
Summer: It really is though! *laughs*
David: Bono really does seem like a preacher when he performs though. He’s just so charismatic! Even my friend, he’s not a huge U2 fan, but we went and saw them and he was like, ‘Holy crap! That dude was charismatic as fuck! That guy’s a rock star!’ *all laugh*
Summer: And he goes against the grain and uses his music for advocacy, which I think is beautiful. He’s creating connection and community through his music. I saw them about two and a half years ago, they opened with “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and I literally cried.
David: Yeah. I have a couple of songs that bring tears to my eyes too. I’m like, ‘Thankfully nobody’s around to see this.’ *laughs*
That’s the beauty of going to see your favorite artist though. You’re like, ‘Aw man, this song makes me sad, but everybody else sad too so it’s ok!’
David: It’s almost like bringing everyone together to have this have this amazing emotional experience. Music should do that, it should touch you. If it’s just passive listening, then those songs that are just the background songs. Twenty years from now you’re not gonna remember those, but it’s the ones that really hit you hard that you really remember. There’s certain Death Cab For Cutie songs, or U2 songs, or Bon Iver songs where I’m like, ‘Alright, I can’t listen to this song. There are other people around. I’ve gotta be alone for this.’
That’s why we have a ‘Need To Cry’ playlist. *all laugh*
Summer: For me, Radiohead’s that kind of band where one song you’re up and jamming, and then the next song I’ll find myself sitting down staring at a wall like, ‘What is my life right now?’ They do such a beautiful job of that.
David: That’s the best music though, music that really gets you, whatever genre that may be.
Summer: Anyways! *laughs* *turns to David* What would the tour name be?
David: We just created a whole festival! *laughs*
Summer: I know we did! *laughs* I was just thinking how funny would it be to name it like a random name, like Susan or Bill.
The Bill tour!
David: The Bil-ed Bill!
And then you’d have that on a Bill-board! *all laugh*
David: There’s some serious branding opportunity right there!
Summer: That’s so funny!
We love puns here on the blog! Life would be boring without them!
Summer: I know right?!? I love puns! They’re so fun!
A question for Summer, David, you’re more than welcome to voice your thoughts as well, but as a female singer-songwriter, do you feel that women in the music industry need to portray themselves in certain ways in order to be successful?
Summer: This concept makes me sad if anyone feels they have to. I have seen many people fall into that trap, and I think, speaking from personal experience, that way back in my early twenties that was something that I felt pressure with too. I think being authentic is something I really want to listen to in the music that I choose. If you’re being honest and real with who you are and with your music, I wanna listen to that! I’ve seen women who are going against that pressure and standing up for who they are. I want to listen to that way more than someone who is not willing to be raw and honest, or someone who is going against their own moral code.
Yeah. And it’s pretty obvious when someone clearly feels uncomfortable with what they’re doing. And you feel so bad for them, but they feel that this is what needs to happen in order for them to achieve in their career and everything.
Summer: Yeah. It really is sad, because once you get there, you’re going to be left empty because you weren’t being who you are. That’s something I wanna avoid for the rest of my life, and something I want to advocate for. People should be who they authentically are to their core and not be shy or quiet about it, or try to hide it, you know?
David: Speaking as a man here, not as a woman, I could see how there are pressures. This new landscape, the extreme of that is when you go on Instagram, you’ll see so many girls out there portraying themselves more in a sexual way than they need to, which has been around for a long time in the mainstream. Whereas now, you can have the alternative of ‘be who you are’ that will help you find your long-term, niche, die-hard audience.
Summer: I’d rather live a life that’s honest than living in some false reality.
David: Yeah. And I think it goes back to how with social media there’s pros and cons, but I think that’s with everything though. There’s not one thing that comes out, especially in technology, that doesn’t come with a major downside, but a major upside as well. It’s up to us to use it for positivity instead of negativity.
Absolutely! And how do you balance your personal life with your professional life?
Summer: I think they go hand in hand. What I do professionally as a job is I work for an agency that works with the homeless. I am a case manager, so I do outreach every single day, meet people where they’re at, and help and support them into getting housing or services like recovery. That’s essentially what I want to do through my music, to be a space of recovery and hope. I feel very, very lucky to have the job that I have, because the agency I work for is also really supportive of my music. They’re always like, ‘When’s your next show? We wanna support you and the band!’ I think when you find something like that, it’s really a blessing, especially here in LA. But, I definitely believe in self-care and what that looks like for you. For me, that’s been a journey I’ve been on the last year, just being able to say ‘No’ and being ok with that, as well as respecting my boundaries, my personal mental health, and my art.
And, if you could give your younger selves any advice on what you’ve experienced in music, or in life, what kind of advice would you give them?
Summer: Trust yourself and trust your gut, because at the end of the day that’s what you’ve got to lean on. I’ve spent the majority of my life listening to what other people wanted for me, or living through their eyes, and it just kind of messed with my own personal psyche. I think going back I would tell myself to trust in myself more, and that it’s ok to stand up for yourself and to make choices based on what you feel is right. Right now, I think there’s so much information and opinions thrown at you, and it’s sometimes by people who are well intended. If you are not trusting your own personal intuition and gut, you only have others to depend and rely on. What may work for one person, may not be the healthiest thing for you, and that’s okay. I’ve personally had that experience, where I’ve had people tell me not to trust my own internal compass and that really affected me. I had to really trust myself to remove myself from environments like this. I’m not on board with that.
David: Especially when people give their opinion on something that you’re doing and they have no experience. From that point, their opinion’s invalid, and you just have to tell them point blank, ‘Thanks, but no thanks. Nobody asked you. I sat on a lot of things for a long time because I was hesitant or too scared to try stuff. As soon as I started forgetting about over-analyzing, over-thinking, and just going out and doing things and putting them into action, it was like, ‘Ah, ok, maybe that wasn’t the right way to go, but I figured it out quicker than if I would have just sat there thinking about it for years.’
You have to make your own mistakes in order to learn not to do it again!
Summer: I would say that a huge component is to enjoy yourself, enjoy your life. If you are constantly living for other people and not authentically enjoying your life, you’re going to be miserable. If you are not careful, this can spur on patterns of depression, pain, heartache. Enjoy your life, enjoy your dreams, enjoy the things that make you the healthiest version of yourself and pursue that full force.
David: The only thing I would add to that is to check your ego. I mean, you should have enough ego to know that you belong in the room, but remember that you can always be better, and that there’s always gonna be people that are better than you, in which you should seek them out and try to learn from them. There’s so many badass musicians and producers in this city and across the world that can provide great learning experiences and ways to get inspired.
Summer: With David, we’re both open to feedback and I believe that makes for a good partnership, friendship, and working relationship. When you are open towards each other, open to feedback, open to hearing another perspective, (other than yours), you grow. I believe that’s a lot of what’s missing in the world. We all have a hard time listening sometimes. We hold so tight to what we believe, our opinions, our perspectives that we miss the beauty of collaboration and working together. I think there is a healthy balance with holding true to your core sense of self and opening yourself up, being available to feedback to pursue growth and health. You chew on the meat, and spit out the bones.
David: Yeah, it’s a very polarizing place to be societally. That’s why I don’t want to get into serious conversations over the internet. I’m glad to have them, but I would be happier to have them in person. You’re more likely to be respectful in your communication in person, especially if it’s somebody that you may not agree with. I genuinely like most people, but there are a few people that legitimately rub me the wrong way.
That’s the same for me You really have to do something awful in order for me to not like you.
David: Exactly. Most people I can have a good conversation with, even if I totally disagree with them. I can actually like them, I might not agree with their points of view, but I can genuinely like them as a person. I think most people come from a good place with good intentions, but that just doesn’t come across in a social media rant.
It’s come full circle to social media.
David: It dominates our world today. Just think about how much a small part of the population of people actually use Twitter still, yet it still dominates the public conversation. It’s insane!
I have a business Twitter, but not a personal one.
David: I found out that Twitter is the one where people are just shouting in the world.
And trolling. *all laugh*
David: Trolling is funny sometimes, but it’s like, Oh My God, you’re legitimately upsetting these people! It’s like, ‘Don’t you have something better to do with your life?’
Summer: I can’t keep up with all the outlets, there’s too many!
David: As far as what we’re concerned, and from a musician’s point of view, there’s a couple.
Instagram, Facebook, YouTube?
David: Yeah, and YouTube is the one that we’re building up for her.
Summer: It takes a little time.
David: Yeah. You’ve gotta video regularly, and that’s kind of scary for people. Like, Instagram you can get away with a low-fi video, but with YouTube, you have to keep people’s attention for a longer period of time.
So many different facets to our persona, per social media platforms.
David: I don’t think that Twitter is good for musicians though. Instagram is definitely the number one thing for musicians right now.
I feel like we’re a lot more visual now, which is good, because you’re getting to see all of these different types of artists showcasing their work. It’s so cool because there wasn’t really a huge, popular platform before.
David: Yeah! And you can find people that you never would have been able to find otherwise!
Summer: And it’s cool if you wanna check out other places in the world. You can look at the locations on Instagram and see people that are currently there, right in that moment, and what it looks like.
David: You just have to be aware of the addictive nature of it and put time limits.
Summer: Boundaries are huge.
And what do you hope your audience to take away from your music?
Summer: I’ve been thinking about this a lot. What I ultimately desire, is for people to feel that much closer to hope, feeling seen, heard, and understood. I want to connect with people through the platform that is music. It’s the space I feel safest in to be completely vulnerable and seen. What’s been really cool with the shows we’ve been playing, is engaging with people afterwards and their desire to share their story and connect. That’s what I want to use music for, because that’s what music has done for me. I can remember being young and going through a lot of hardships, and I found solace in music. I can remember sitting in front of my radio as a kid, putting on a CD, reading the lyrics inside of the music booklet, not skipping songs, just journeying with that person, that band for the next hour. I can remember feeling like ‘Wow. this person truly gets it. I feel understood right now.’ I miss those days. I want to do just that for people. I want to encourage people in their journey towards hope, especially when they feel at their darkest. You never know what someone’s going through, and music can be a way for people to finally have a safe space to lean in to hope and vulnerability.
To end this off, what other big, exciting things should we be expecting from you in the near future? You’ve already teased some new music.
Summer: Yeah! I’m working with David on our next single, which is called “O’Neal,” and it’s based around another close friend of mine. We’re planning to work on the music video and I’m excited to have my friend within the video. If you look at the “Poet” music video, Poet is actually the main guy in the video, so you will be introduced to “O’Neal” through the music video. This next song discusses that battle of self-persecution and dealing with the battle of negative self-talk. Ultimately, finding freedom from that. It’s about feeling torn between two different mindsets, two different people. I’m really looking forward to releasing this!
David: We’re continuing to build and develop the overall sound, and can’t wait to bring people along on the journey.
About Tickle Tree Cafe:
Located in the heart (and heat) of the valley lives Tickle Tree Café, a cozy spot that is equal parts adorable and mouthwatering! From classic coffee options to scrumptious fan-favorites, locals and visitors alike should have no problem finding the perfect combo of food and drink. I went back to my college fave, the Americano, but opted for the iced version with soy milk and a significantly less amount of sugar. Had I not have already eaten before I got there, I so would have devoured one of their appetizing looking brunch options. Now, apart from a great menu, what makes this shop special is its overall atmosphere and design. From the moment you even step into the parking lot, you can just tell that you will have a pleasant experience, and their wonderfully happy staff is a great group of friendly faces to welcome you for however long your stay may be. Enjoy your delicious noms in the air-conditioned indoor seating area complete with warm neutrals with pops of sunny yellows and aluminum seating, or relax and enjoy the sunshine in their decently sized patio area under the shade of umbrellas that perfectly match the Tickle Tree color scheme.