Heels & Picks: Streetlight Cadence goes ‘Beyond’
BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser
If you’ve spent time roaming the streets of Waikiki, chances are you’ve encountered Streetlight Cadence.
A quartet comprised of some old-school and rarely seen instrumentation (including accordions, foot percussion and violin), Streetlight Cadence has built their fan base by performing on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, engaging locals and tourists alike with their affable indie-pop. Members Chaz Umamoto, Brian Webb, Jonathon Franklin and Jesse Shiroma have taken street performance to a new level.
The first time I encountered Streetlight Cadence was on Record Store Day at Hungry Ear Records in 2014. They are genuinely nice guys with a lot of enthusiasm and big smiles.
Flash forward a few months and Streetlight Cadence took home the 2014 Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Alternative Album of the Year for “Kalakaua Avenue.” The category is relatively new; kudos to those who fought hard to get the category into play, as it’s very helpful to be able to split up rock and alternative.
Like many bands, Streetlight Cadence took to Kickstarter to raise the funds to record their third album and relocate to California. They met their goal of $20,000, so now it’s on to preparing for “Beyond Paradise.”
Here’s what Umamoto had to say about the upcoming album.
HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER: Tell us about the songwriting process for “Kalakaua Avenue.”
CHAS UMAMOTO: Our previous album, “Kalakaua Avenue” was named in homage of where we’re from. Being the band that played on the sidewalks of Kalakaua for the last 5 years, we thought it was fitting to name the album after the place where the music came together. In our songwriting process, we charge each member of the band to write one song each per week. We then take the best of these songs and perform them for our test audiences on the streets. Over the course of time we figure out what songs work and which one’s are not appealing to total strangers.
SA: Your next album is to be called “Beyond Paradise.” Tell us about the album title and what your plans are for the expansion of the band.
CU: The title “Beyond Paradise” was chosen for our upcoming third full-length album as a point towards where we are now going. We like to assume every album could be our last and how their titles engage future interviews. The majority of our fan base has been collected on the streets of Waikiki, so naturally they do not understand why we as musicians would choose to leave Hawai’i (paradise) in order to pursue a career elsewhere. The band has come to a crossroads where we know we can continue to play more private functions and make a decent living as performing artists. But truly one of our goals is to grow as recording artist. We want to see if we really have what it takes to survive where the action is in LA. This August we will be closing up shop and moving to Santa Monica, to further pursue our music careers.
A total of 40 songs have been written for “Beyond Paradise.” As a band it was really important to us to record a new album with the best quality of songwriting. We want the songs to compliment the improvement of recording quality; a necessary step we must take in order to make an album that will stand the test of time, and hopefully get some radio airplay nationally.
Of the 40 songs we will choose the best 15 to record and release. One of the kickstarter rewards allows fans to receive all 15 singles as they are completed before mastering, on top of the mastered digital and physical album prior to the commercial release date.
SA: I like your style – 40 songs is a high number to choose from. Tell us about some of your favorite songs that have emerged from the writing process.
CU: “Rooftops” — this song is for those who never thought they would encounter true love. So much so that when it happens, you can’t help but express it everywhere you go. This song is the first example of what the album could you sound like. Rooftops has already been released on ITunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc. YouTube videos can be found of us performing this track with the HPU Orchestra, and at the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.
“Summer” — what album is complete without a summer anthem? But we wanted to focus on a universal summer song that can be sung and used throughout the year. “She makes it summer all over again” is sung throughout the choruses. This particularly track also has backup vocals done by our good friend singer-songwriter, Dustin Pacleb.
“Rogers Song” — this a song off of our very first album, “Thinking of You.” There’s been great demand over the last three years for us to re-record this song, with our live arrangement. “Roger’s Song” is a true story about a college friend of Jonathon (violinist) whom would drunk call him at 2 a.m. every night. Note: Roger is just a pseudo name, and although the song chronicles a very depressing true story of the man, he is doing alright.
“Runaway Satellite” is an old title of a song the band used to do back in 2011 with original member Daniel Duncan. But the current version has been re-written and re-inspired by the movie Interstellar. The song talks about a man (farmer), and the love of his life (astronaut) who leaves him for the opportunity to explore the great unknown, only to find in the end that her love for him was the true “final frontier.”
“Don’t Let Go” is a mashup of Pachabel’s Canon with some original lyrics. We really wanted to write a song that represents our classical training as musicians.
Watch for Streetlight Cadence’ new album and follow the band online as they prepare.
FOR THOSE who follow the Honolulu rock and alternative scene, you may be wondering who else has crowd-funding campaigns and new music that you can be involved with. Let me fill you in.
Local R&B artist YOZA has a Kickstarter campaign currently underway. She is funding an album produced by Hanan Rubinstein; he is, among other things, Alicia Keys’ current touring guitarist. Producing an album isn’t cheap and artists aren’t always able to easily pay for them. These days its costs around $20,000 minimum, and that’s with everybody pitching in to make it happen. She is an artist to watch and I encourage you all to get behind her album.
Hawaii-born Joni Llamedo wrapped her Indiegogo campaign this spring and will be having her album launch party at Doris Duke Theatre on July 25. Special guests for the show include Zack Shimizu and Llamedo’s sisters, Annie and Mandy. Her album, “Years in the Breaking,” is a lovely presentation of her lilting melodies and clear vocal style.
Crimson Apple will launch a crowd-funding campaign for their debut album on July 27. To be released in the fall, Crimson Apple is looking to connect with fans as they prepare for the album release concert on September 18 at Crossroads at Hawaiian Brian’s. Some of their album perks will include guitar straps made by band member Shelby Benson and some cool Crimson Apple swag.
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.