Crystal Cities emerged from the ashes of pop rock band Jefferson. The band released their debut single ‘Cut Me Loose’ in 2015 to great reviews. They have just released their follow up single ‘Talking to myself’ and are working on their debut EP. Tomatrax cught up with Geoff Rana from the band to ask a few questions.
You had a fair amount of acclaim for your first single, did that make you feel any pressure when working on your follow up song?
Yes a little, it was a new direction and sound with the last single so trying to keep within that same style when songwriting was something i was very conscious about. I seem to be a very schizophrenic songwriter, if I’m trying to write in a particular style i can end up writing a really cool blues tune or then a really commercial pop tune, so its a matter of tuning in and getting the right sound I’m trying to achieve with Crystal Cities, so there was little pressure to get the direction right with the songwriting if anything, but following up with another great song didn’t concern me haha.
What was the inspiration behind the video for ‘Talking to myself’?
The sound of the intro guitars in “Talkin To myself” reminded me of old vintage high 8 film for whatever reason. We had recently been in the states and i had a lot of iPhone footage from the trip, so i decided to keep filming when the band went into the studio and then put all the footage together with a vintage filter. I like matching images with sounds, the middle 8 in the song is represented in the clip with slow mo shots that i captured from the plane, the clouds glowing from a late afternoon sun giving us a dreamy juxta postion is how i imagine that part of the song, so was great to get that kinda footage to represent that part of the song.
You’ve been working on your EP, how has that been going?
The songs are coming together well, we have a lot of material but i really want the songs to tie in together and be the right collection of tunes to release as our debut. There is no pressure or time constraints at the moment so its good to be able to take my time and get this collection of songs right. Im sometimes get carried away with production ideas and start adding loops and electronic ideas, but we have been working with some great engineers / producers and we have been able to pull some great sounds from just the guitar thus keeping the instruments totally organic.
How will the EP compare with your first two singles?
There will be a continuing theme for sure, dream pop vocals with driving rhythms and memorable melodies with vintage guitar sounds. I would also like to experiment a little with the psychedelic aspects of the 60’s within some of the production so that could be something you might hear.
Do you know what the EP will be titled?
Not at this stage, i like the sound of “Talkin To Myself” but its really to early for a title just yet, i usually leave the title to the very last minute haha!
As a member of the Nashville Songwriters’ association, do you ever write songs for other artists?
No i haven’t written any songs for other artists as such, the co writing has always been for projects i have been working on, but i do have a lot of unused tracks which are really great that i haven’t used because they really don’t sit with the sound i am after, so they could be used for other artists for sure, i just need to find the right artists i guess!
When writing what comes first, the music or the words?
Its mostly the music i come up with the chords and melody come together and the lyrics is something i always work on last, once the tune is complete i usually make the lyric writing a completing different process, i will take a pen and paper and sit in a park, cafe or chill on the lounge and ponder the right words that sit in with the melody, its kinda like a jig saw puzzle, sometime you come up with a great line but it has one syllable to many or too less haha! But on occasions the lyrics do come at the same time which is great, it all kinda flows at once and its like a mad scramble to get it all down before it disappears.
You previously went by the name Jefferson, do you consider Crystal Cities to be a separate band?
Yes completely seperate band, they are total opposites of each other, Jefferson is a more pop anthem band, its good to have two bands as an outlet, as a songwriter it gives you more opportunities to write and challenge your songwriting.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
No not really, after you have written the track and have listened to it a thousand times in the rehearsal room and during the recording session it becomes overkill! After it comes back from mastering I give it a few listens, give it the ok and send it out into the universe, a few years later i may return for a re – listen, which is really good to hear if the track stands up from a few years ago.
What music do you listen to?
I like listening to organic bands i guess, musicians playing real instruments, hearing a band that you know has spent years crafting their sound and learning to play their instruments.
Good songs is also important too, it all ties into together, a good songwriter with a great band, Boom! so in saying that there is no limit to styles and genres that i can listen too, and there is a lot of stuff i can’t listen too!!!
You have to really source the great stuff yourself, if you rely on the radio for your musical taste i think you will be highly disappointed these days.
What do you have planned once your EP is finished?
Would be good to get out and tour the E.P, playing live is an important part of the writing process getting to perform the tracks and promote the E.P would be the plan. There is a lot of music out there, so becoming a master of the social media seems just as important as learning an instrument these days! If you can cut thru the mass of music being placed on various platforms these days you are doing well as an indie band! So that would be our number one plan haha become masters of the social media promotion team!
Where did the name Crystal Cities come from?
Crystal Cities for me as has a connotation of a new futuristic world, i picture a other worldly place where there exists a metroplois made out of crystal where people live on a higher consciousness, a more peaceful loving society of beings that have evolved past the materialistic values and live in a higher state of consciousness as one! so its kinda of a daydream fairytale name, or is it!!! ha
Check out Crystal Cities’ Facebook page to find out more!