Cities in Silence || band interview

I love finding new music that I like. In fact, it's probably one of my favorite things.

So needless to say, you can imagine how stoked I was to a) discover Cities in Silence, and b) get a chance to do this q+a with them for you guys.

I found Cities in Silence via Raquel's blog  (which you should definitely check out, by the way. Raquel is a sweet, super cool gal.) she's a member of Cities and Silence, and it was really cool to be able to chat with her about her take on creative music production, having been a blog reader of hers for a while.

Cities in Silence has a sweet, fresh, alternative sound. Awesome vocals, melodies, lyrics. I'm a fan, and I'm stoked to have an opportunity to share their music with you guys.

How did you start as a band? What brought you guys together? 

Justin: So pretty much, I’ve been a musician my whole life. And I’ve been in an out of several different projects. I guess ‘Cities In Silence’ is what feels like the final evolution of my music projects. I have a lot of lyrics that I was working on and I just decided to start it myself and I had just spent a lot of time reorganizing and pairing my lyrics down - refining them - and I decided it was at a point that I could start to go public with it. So it was September 23, 2014 that I actually started. And then in mid-October, our mutual love of music brought Ryan and I together. He started jamming with me. I showed him the first song that I had music and lyrics written for and when he started playing, it was like one of those ‘love at first play’ moments...but more like, ‘bromance at first play’. *laughs* And then some time in November, I officially added him into the band. Raquel…I’ve been friends with for a while. And she was interested in being part of a music project. At first, we were talking about just possibly featuring her in songs, but as we became closer in our group, we realized that we jived really well together and we had the same passion for music. And so, because of that, we got together - at a Shari’s! - on April 27, and decided it was time to start working on an EP.

What inspires your songs? 

Justin: Life. Life experiences. And people’s stories.

What was the journey to creating your first EP like? 

Ryan: It was painful, man. *laughs*

Justin: Each of us has a different story, so we’ll each answer this. For me, it was a dream come true to be able to have the opportunity to record. Period. AND have someone, like Alex*, who was that good produce it. Working with Ryan and Raquel was amazing too, because they knew what they were doing. And we nailed it. For the amount of the studio time that we spent to pump four songs out that sounded that good…was actually kind of impressive. And, I mean, yeah, Alex did some editing but he said that really all he did was balance the tracks out to make them fit well. One of the most exciting moments was to finally get to hear our music coming back at us from speakers. It was somewhat stressful because we were on a time crunch and working with schedules and stuff, but we made it happen.

Ryan: Okay pretty much when I heard that we were gonna be able to record, I believed it but I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t doubt Alex or whatever, but when he started explaining what we were gonna be doing, some ideas he had, he was just throwing stuff at us, and we picked up the pieces that we liked. And put together what we felt was our EP. I got so much more comfortable as we went on.

Justin: I think co-writing two of the songs with Alex really pushed me as a musician because he and I have different styles, but we were able to mesh them together really well.

Raquel: It was pretty crazy, honestly. I mean, I’ve recorded in a studio before so I - which made things easier - but gosh, hearing Alex work his magic and just put that whole EP together… I was like freaking out when I finally heard it altogether. It was a dream come true.

*Alex Ferraro is a friend of the band’s and owns Spero Studios. He produced and recorded our music for us.

The vocal harmonies and guitar riffs in the songs are impressive. I love Keep Moving On and One White Cross. What are some of your favorite instruments/sound inspirations to incorporate into your songs? 

Justin: I’ve always been an experimental musician and because I can play multiple instruments, I always end up trying out new options. One White Cross was an edgy acoustic song for an acoustic EP because we put some distortion on my guitar for it. And the percussion we used was all electronic, not just like a shaker or something. We were trying to add more of a punch on it because it was the opening song on the EP. I guess my thing is that because of my musical tastes, normally I will lean towards a guitar-fueled song. And because I am probably most proficient on guitar. But I have vision on adding all sorts of things in. Because yes, I am influenced by the straight rock-alternative style, but two of my favorites - Explosions In the Sky and Angels & Airwaves - are progressive/experimental bands. That’s why I threw our band into the punk rock/alternative genre because it gives us a lot of lead-way to experiment with our sound style. I want to be somewhat unpredictable.

Ryan: Usually I look for something that really moves me, maybe causes me to think. And I incorporate that feeling or drive into the riffs and sounds that I use. And I can fit that with whatever lyrics Justin has written. That’s kind of how Keep Moving On came about. I made the riff off something I had once heard. It was like a sad mood, but I came up with those notes and sound for that riff.

Raquel: Singing with Justin is not only fun, it’s inspiring. Our voices sound so good together and blend so well. I get a thrill every time we jam together. And even if we’re just hanging out, there’s ALWAYS music being played. Justin and I just instinctively sing along to everything, and harmonize, and it’s pretty rad. And then getting to play altogether is crazy cool because we have incredible chemistry. Having played for a few months now, we can kind of feel what the other is thinking, and add to our songs with confidence (or be honest and just say that ‘No, that doesn’t work’ *laughs*). We all support and encourage each other, though, and I think that is one of the most important things to being in a band - not only being together, but being connected and united as a family.

This one is a given, but what is your favorite track on the EP? 

Ryan: Definitely Keep Moving On

Justin: Honestly, on the EP, I think my favorite is actually Burn Out Bright. Just because I really connected with that song. I connect with all of our songs, but it really - to use a musician’s phrase - struck a chord with me. But overall, it just comes in by a hair’s breadth ahead of Keep Moving On. I think that song will always be right by the top. We’ve been playing it pretty much the longest.

Raquel: It’s a toss-up between Keep Moving On and Burn Out Bright.

Recording songs in a studio vs. performing songs live - what are the experiences like, and what do you like about each? 

Raquel: Studio recording is very thrilling, and can be a bit stressful. Sometimes you have to record one section ten times over before finally getting it right. But when you do, it’s so amazing and feels so dream-like. Almost surreal, you know? Performing live is very different and the expectations aren’t about getting it right for a record, but getting it right for an audience who is sitting - or standing - right in front of you. And you have more of an inspiration to convey what YOU are feeling to more than just one person. You have a crowd sitting before you wanting to be dazzled. And you have so much power in that moment.

Justin: I am not a timed-musician, I have a lot of alternate strum patterns on my guitar. Recording on my guitar was a challenge because I had to think about matching my strums to Ryan’s when we were recording. Because since I’m rhythm guitarist, Ryan laid his tracks down as lead. And so I had to match him. And it threw me a little. I wasn’t used to recording as matching someone else. So recording was a bit more of a challenge. But the thing that is far about recording is that you can go back and re-do segments. And it’s really great, because you get to hear your dreams and aspirations come to life. Now playing live, you get a whole different feel. Because you get to feel the energy of the crowd, and you get to feed off of that. And I go a whole lot harder when I’m in front of a crowd, than when I’m just in a studio. However the only downside to live, is that, if you mess up, you can’t go back and restart. You just keep going.

Ryan: As far as recording goes, I really like it because if you have a set time to do a specific track-laying or writing a song, and be yourself while you’re doing it. I like having a peaceful time in the studio alone. And when you think of how appreciative people will be after hearing your work and hearing feedback, it’s very encouraging. As far as live goes, I love the drive you get from the audience, and seeing the looks of satisfaction on their faces when we’re done playing.

Other artists or musical inspirations?

Justin: Yellowcard, Anberlin, Angels & Airwaves.

Ryan: Breaking Benjamin, Thousand Foot Krutch, Yellowcard.

Raquel: OneRepublic, Artist Vs Poet, Hot Chelle Rae.

As a band, what would your mission statement be? What are your hopes for these songs? 

Justin: In a nutshell, Cities In Silence is about reaching out to people, positively influencing the world, and inspiring others to do the same. That’s why our songs are about life experiences and people’s stories. I have some stuff - sneak peek here! - that I’m working on about self-harm, body image issues or even suicidal. That kind of stuff is out there. That’s what people are dealing with. So what I hope for our music is that people will hear it, be encouraged, and know that they are not alone. And for them to reach out for hope if they are struggling.

Facebook -
Instagram - @citiesinsilenceofficial
Twitter - @citiesinsilence

No comments

comments are like dark chocolate and they make this kid way happy. I love hearing from you guys! (check back because I reply...and I love checking out your blogs, so don't leave me without a link to yours!) ♥