Popping Up: Capital Cities

capital cities idolator interview
Ryan & Sebu On Their Jingle-Writing Past & Pop Future
Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.

The buzz for electro-pop duo Capital Cities has been growing steadily for more than a minute, and you can be forgiven if you think you’ve heard their breakout single, “Safe And Sound,” somewhere before — because chances are, you have. The song has been around for over two years (most recently it was included on the pair’s self-titled EP, released in December 2012) and it has, as band members Ryan Merchant (the tall one) and Sebu Simonian (the one with the amazingly unforgettable beard) explain it in the interview above, gone through multiple incarnations.

But with the release of their debut album In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery just around the corner (it’s out June 4)  — not to mention the growing airplay for “Safe And Sound” and its ascent up the iTunes chart — we figured it was time to bring these guys in and get them to tell their story.

WHERE THEY MET: Los Angeles, CA.

HOW THEY MET: Sebu placed an ad on Craigslist, offering to produce up-and-coming artists. “[Ryan] was the one and only response to my ad,” Simonian says.

SOUNDS LIKE: Sleek city-based synth pop that is warm enough to seep into the suburbs and cool enough to soundtrack your next night of urban marauding. Think Hall & Oates jamming with Postal Service, with Duran Duran on backing vocals.

TAKING THE LONG WAY AROUND: Sebu and Ryan didn’t jump straight into penning pop tunes. “I kind of fell into jingle writing and asked Sebu if he’d like to work on some jingles with me,” Merchant explains. “That became like a two-year career before Capital Cities.”

THEIR LABEL: Capitol Records, of course.

HOW YOU KNOW THEY’VE MADE IT: Their song “One Minute More” was included on the soundtrack for action-packed springtime blockbuster Iron Man 3, along with numbers by Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees and Passion Pit.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THEIR DEBUT ALBUM: The five songs from their 2012 EP, plus longtime fan favorite “Kangaroo Court” and six new slices of dance-pop, like the horn-and-disco-tinged “Chartreuse” and funky, soulful “Tell Me How To Live.” Stream it all at the New York Times.

OUR ASSESSMENT: With a little more love from radio, “Safe And Sound” could find itself having a dance-off with Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky” and whatever other Song Of Summer contenders come shaking down the pipeline.

 “Safe And Sound” is available on iTunes now. Capital Cities’ debut LP On A Tidal Wave Of Mystery is out next week, on June 4.

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