An Awkward First Tinder Date Ends in the Creation of a Beautiful Synth-pop Band

>> David Klotz, the music editor on “Stranger Things”, and Erica Elektra, the vocalist of Hearts of Palm UK, met one awkward night in Los Angeles and ended up creating beautiful dreamy synth-pop. Check out our interview with them below where we talk about what their children think of their music and what influences them to create!

1. So you guys met on Tinder. How’d you end up working together instead of sleeping together?

ERICA: Haha, what a question. Well…. I do remember that at the time I went on the Tinder date, I had come up with a couple of “deal-breakers” (which I’ve since changed my mind on). One of my deal-breakers at that time was that I didn’t want to be with an Atheist. When I found out that David was an Atheist, I blurted out, “Oh, that’s my deal-breaker.” So, it was sort of out there already on the first date that we weren’t necessarily a romantic match. We just connected more on the musical front, and I think that after a few weeks, I reached out to him and was like, “So, when are we gonna get together and make some beautiful synth music?” and the rest is history.

DAVID: That first date was quite comical because we met at a fancy craft cocktail bar called The Raymond in Pasadena and I ordered a drink called the Smoking Jacket. So, as I was trying to be all cool, turning on the charm, a cocktail arrived at our table with a mushroom cloud of smoke billowing from the top of the glass and it kept getting in my eyes every time I would take a sip.

2. What’s it like to collaborate with a near stranger on something so personal?

ERICA: It’s strange! But I could tell that David was a genuinely good person, and we get along well, so I felt I could trust him. When we were recording the album, my dad had just been diagnosed with ALS and was having a lot of medical emergencies. David was around for all of that, and he saw me at some of my lowest points. the song “Dedication” is about my dad and recording it was a really difficult process, I could barely get through singing the lyrics... It made me feel closer to David and feel comfortable working on this personal music together.

DAVID: We quickly became friends as we were both dealing with family stuff at the time. We had just recorded Erica’s song “Dedication” last May when my own father had passed away. I remember flying back to L.A. after seeing him for the last time and listening to a rough mix of our song and texting Erica to say how much that song meant to me at that very moment. We’ve always emotionally connected to each other’s material. Though, I will say that sometimes I will play Erica a new song and she’ll just come right out and say “I don’t like that one.”, which is good too. We’re not afraid to be honest!

3. How do your lives as single parents influence your work?

ERICA: Well…it makes it really hard to find time to record! And some of the subject matter I suppose references life as a single parent. I think a lot of my lyrics revolve around the idea that this wasn’t exactly the life I envisioned for myself, but here I am, and I’m doing the best I can. I think that being a parent is more influential than just being a "single" parent. The song "I think of you" was written for my daughter when she was only a few months old.

4. What do your kids think of your music?

ERICA: My daughter (4 years old) loves the song I wrote for her (“I think of you”). I used to sing it every night before bed, but lately, she’s been having this obsession with Belinda Carlisle and The Bangles so I sing “Manic Monday” or “Heaven is a Place on Earth” instead now. She likes to listen to our album and I hear her singing little parts of it to herself, which is the sweetest thing ever. She saw the music video we made and was like, “Mommy, I want you to dress like that every day!” She seemed so mesmerized.

DAVID: My 8-year-old son is tough.I think he likes my music. When I finish a demo, I play it for him saying “hey, what do you think of my new song? ” And he responds by saying “I like it” with the most extreme indifference. I sometimes rope him into recording with me. We wrote a song together a few months ago called "Robot Puppy", which despite the title, is a very sad and depressing song. He takes it very seriously, like me.

5. Synth-pop is typically considered part of the EDM genre. Do you consider yourselves/your band a part of that culture?

ERICA: I’m pretty into electronic music, and I go out to dance and listen to DJ’s when I have my nights out. But the genre of EDM is pretty cheesy… most of the stuff I hear that is classified is EDM just sounds very basic and mainstream. I like the more underground elements of electronic music. So, I guess the answer is a bit of yes AND no? Honestly, I would be super excited if DJ's were playing our music and people were dancing to it!

DAVID: Not really. Our songs are written and arranged like pop songs…You could easily replace the synths with guitars, bass and drums, and the songs would be the same. No EDM anywhere in sight!

6. Does being based in Los Angeles shape your work in any significant way?

ERICA: Well, only in LA would I go on a Tinder date with the music editor for Stranger Things which would then lead to a magical musical journey.

7. Who/what are some of your influences, musically or otherwise?

ERICA: I love Swedish indie-pop and synth-pop (Fredrik, Royksopp, Burning Hearts, Susanne Sundfør), minimal electronic/house music (Melokind, Weval, Jan Blomqvist, Monolinnk), synth-pop (Chvrches, Mr. Little Jeans, Au Revoir Simone, Metric), and sweet melancholic pop (The National, Fleet Foxes, Sufjan Stevens, Stars).

DAVID: Some of the records that have influenced me: The Human League’s Dare, Duran Duran’s Rio, The Smith’s Meat is Murder, The Stone Roses debut album, Depeche Mode’s Speak and Spell, Broadcast’s Work and Non Work, Opera Sauvage by Vangelis and many of Maurice Jarre’s film scores from the 1980’s like Witness, The Year of Living Dangerously and Enemy Mine to name a few.

8. Your music seems so conceptual, is this intentional or does it come naturally in your artistic process?

DAVID: My first instinct was to say that it was intentional but it actually took a few months for a clear direction to come into focus. For instance, I tried using live drums on one of our songs and it just felt wrong. I tried using a few modern synths and that felt wrong too. So, after recording “Losing All of You”, “I Think of You” and “It’s All Happening”, the album came into focus, including the idea of adding score-like instrumental tracks, ideas for the artwork, etc.

9. Where’d you come up with such a whimsical idea for your “Losing All of You” music video?

ERICA: Well, we teamed up with a friend of mine, Chip Yamada, who I have always known to be quite a unique and quirky individual. He asked us both what we envisioned for the video.... I said that I saw something about soaring through the sky/flying and David said he saw something about watching a couple from a distance and the rise and fall of a relationship.... Chip took both our ideas and melded them together into a whimsical story of a robot, flying through the universe in her little spaceship, looking down onto earth and becoming enamored by a human relationship that she watched from afar. David and I just went with it, we trusted Chip's vision... and we love how it turned out!

10. Are you continually working on new music or do you focus on one song or one album at a time?

ERICA: We are continually working on new music.... that's what we do best, I think. We just love to get together and play around and create!

11. Are you inspired by the timelessness of the synth in and of itself or is it really just the sound of the instrument that motivates your work?

DAVID: Playing a synth like the Yamaha CS-70m, I sometimes land on a sound by accident and it will sound both strange and familiar at the same time. It’s new and otherworldly and yet it will reference the past and remind me of 1970’s science fiction or something I would have heard on the radio as a kid. But, what’s important is the way that it makes you feel. And that’s what really inspires me to write.

12. What were the biggest challenges you faced in creating or releasing your first album?

DAVID: Finding the time to write and record with our busy work and parenting schedules was the first challenge. Though, I also think having limited time, made us work more efficiently. And then for me, I found mixing the album to be a challenge. I intended to do everything from recording to mixing myself, but the album came together quickly and I had difficulty being objective after listening to the tracks over and over again. We also would track so many synths parts on every song that everything became too dense.

There were a lot of middle frequencies to organize so I turned to my friend Chris Colley who mixed the last couple of Fonda (my old band) records to come in and sort out the mess that I was struggling with. The first song he mixed for us was "Losing All of You”. He has a way of just carving things ever so slightly in an almost scientific way that everything plays nicely together and then Erica and I were able to focus more on the big picture during that process. It’s more fun to focus on the arrangement and not on the frequencies.

13. What does your future hold as an emerging duo?

DAVID: We’re going to play shows at some point once we figure out how to reproduce our album in a live setting without having to use all 13 of our keyboards. We are always recording, too…there is more music to come in 2018. <<