No, this isn’t a Glass Animals track featuring Cage the Elephant’s Matt Schultz on vocals, just in case you were wondering. It’s LA duo Coast Modern, comprised of Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp. Atlas and Trapp have switched off their brains and gone with their gut, combining their creative musical ideology to create a debut single, Hollow Life.
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Hollow Life is a synth-pop indie track for sure but it is not anywhere near overkill. While so many new and barely beginning artists make the mistake of awkwardly forcing synths into their music, Coast Modern definitely comes off with a natural confidence. From the bass driven rhythms that guide the song to the marimba-esque sounds, you can tell Coast Modern‘s comfortability with sonic experimentation.
As much as Atlas and Trapp dig LA and the energy it radiates, they both believe there is a dark shade tainting the city’s aurora. Hollow Life definitely hints at soullessness, superficiality, and the constant chase to fit into the scene. It’s all an illusion is what Luke Atlas, the man on vocals, is telling us.
Here Luke Atlas, one-half of Coast Modern, takes the time to share where his passion for music stems from; explain Coast Modern’s musical awakening and break from popular radio music; and reveal that he can totally kill it with a yo-yo.
Where are you guys based out of?
I’m originally from Seattle but Coleman’s been in LA since he was a kid.
When did you two meet, and how long have you known each other? Did the two of you ever imagine you were going to be making music together?
I was a wide-eyed newbie living in LA for about two weeks when I met Coleman. Someone introduced us and a week later we were at my house making a song. I never would have imagined I’d meet the dude I’d be in a band with so soon after moving to LA.
When did you realize music was something you were really passionate about and wanted to work on?
There’s a museum in Seattle that has “jam” rooms where you press a button and can play real instruments for 10 minutes at a time. When I was young I’d spend whole afternoons pressing that button and trading off on guitar, bass, drums, keyboard. It was so exciting to make sounds, and I guess I’ve never stopped. Coleman and I both spent a lot of time teaching ourselves how to play instruments, record, and produce. We’re just trying to capture the mysterious vibrations that keep washing over us.
What did you listen to growing up? Do any of your favorite artists inspire or influence Coast Modern’s music?
I think part of the Coast Modern sound comes from embracing the music we loved when we were young, even if it’s not “cool” now. We’ve been pulling up a lot of YouTubes from bands we loved as teenagers, and some of it is embarrassingly bad but a lot is still fresh. My first loves were The Beatles and Beach Boys, Mozart, 60s girl groups, T. Rex, Led Zeppelin, Weezer. Still love those bands.
How old were you when you listened to an album or track and thought, “Wow. This is my favorite”. What track or album are you currently obsessed with?
I was probably 13 when I heard Buddy Holly from Weezer, most likely illegally downloaded on my parent’s PC. Something about the nerd persona, sweet melodies, and heavy guitars really struck a chord. Cha Cha by D.R.A.M. is my current obsession. I love that it sounds like it took 20 minutes to make.
Would you say Coast Modern’s sound is a combo of music/sound interests between the two of you or do you both share these interests.
We both love so much different music, but there’s a lot of overlap too. To generalize, I probably lean more upbeat, poppy, and retro, and Coleman leans more vibey, future R&B. So together it’s an interesting mash up.
I recently read in Nylon that the music came when you stopped trying to hit “an invisible moving target,” what were the two of you doing before? Was there a sound or style you were going for? What was it like when you realized you were getting the sound you were going for? What was the initial reaction?
We were working as songwriters for other artists for a couple years, which usually meant trying to sound like what’s currently popular on the radio. We started to realize that if you work that way you’ll always be playing catch up, instead of contributing something fresh. The one thing the big guys can’t do is be weird and be you. Now we don’t aim for any specific sound, we just turn off our brains and go with whatever pleases us at a gut level.
While listening to Hollow Life, I couldn’t help but feel that the lyrics hinted at LA life? Would you say that the LA scene influences your music?
We absolutely love LA and all the creative energy, but there is a darker side that can sneak up if you’re not careful. Hollow Life is our attempt to find distance from soullessness and upward social comparison.
When I listened to Hollow Life for the first time I couldn’t help but think “This sounds like Cage the Elephant,” and an article in allthingsgomusic.com also describes Hollow Life as having a Cage the Elephant-y sound. What are your thoughts on this comparison?
Any comparison to a band as cool as Cage the Elephant is welcome. We’re big fans of those guys.
As emerging artists, how would you describe the LA music scene in one sentence?
Everybody doing their own thing together.
Do you follow any yet to be discovered artists or musicians?
We’re close with a bunch of talented folks… Party Nails, Miya Folick, Jason Diaz. So many more, but I can’t spill all the beans.
Has Coast Modern performed anywhere yet? Where? What has it been like? Any names of artists you’ve performed with or opened for?
Technically we’ve played one show just to get our feet wet. We’re working on getting a proper live *experience* together right now. Super excited to take this music live and loud.
Is Coast Modern working on more music? Is new music coming soon? Can you share any details?
We’re constantly writing new tunes. We like to work quick and collect a big pile. There will be more soon!
NOW SOME JUST-FOR-FUN QUESTIONS
If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
I’ve been craving a secluded cabin to zone out and write. A little red shack on the fjords of Norway sounds about perfect right now.
Who was your celebrity crush as a kid (mine was Colin Farrell by the way)?
Ha! I may have had a little thing for Natalie Portman.
What’s a secret talent of yours that not many know about?
I can yo-yo like a mofo. The Eiffel Tower is my signature trick.
What are you going to be for Halloween, if costumes are something you dig?
I’ve been so bad at Halloween because it still feels like Summer in LA. Kicking around being Bob Ross just so I can wear a huge ‘fro and say “Happy trees”
What is your favorite dish and where is the favorite place to get it?
The chile relleno burrito from La Azteca Tortillaria is my fav, especially when taken to-go and eaten on top of a mountain.
Favorite book at the moment?
Coleman lent me this book that I’m really into: Meditation in Action by Chögyam Trungpa
What cheesy pickup line is secretly your favorite?
Are you a crystal ball? Because I can see my future with you.