Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-12-07
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

On 'Holiday' with Capital Cities
MUSIC Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2013-11-19

This article shared 9054 times since Tue Nov 19, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian created the pop band Capital Cities. Now, thanks to the bonafide hit single "Safe and Sound," the two are known globally.

In a Tidal Wave of Mystery was released this summer, fittingly on Capitol Records. With heavy rotation on many radio stations sales continue to grow.

Windy City Times went backstage at their last Chicago show to learn more about the duo and what the future holds for them.

Windy City Times: Hi, guys. So you are both from California?

Ryan Merchant: I am from San Francisco.

Sebu Simonian: I'm from Los Angeles.

WCT: So the two of you met up on Craigslist?

Ryan Merchant: Yes; it is funny because people think it is a crazy story but it is really very Los Angeles to be honest. It's a common way for musicians to connect on there. It may sound strange in other cities but it is fairly common there. We also met our bass player on Craigslist. I was looking for someone to produce the music I had been working on so I just went on Craigslist. Sebu had happened to post something that day offering his production services. I responded to it and we got together.

WCT: You both had been making music before the coming together of Capital Cities, then?

Ryan Merchant: Yeah, we had both been in bands before this, taken music lessons and both been involved in music for a long time.

WCT: You both did commercial work I read, so that is a good way to start off and make money.

Ryan Merchant: Yes, we both did commercials for a few years before we started Capital Cities.

WCT: How long have you been together as a band?

Sebu Simonian: We formed it toward the end of 2010, so that makes it about three years.

WCT: Where did the band name come from?

Sebu Simonian: It was a brainstorming session. We were trying to come up with a name and ideas. It kind of popped up and it looked good. We stuck with it.

WCT: The video for "Safe and Sound" is truly special. It won a VMA. Did you go to the MTV Music Award show?

Sebu Simonian: We had a previous engagement but it worked out fine. It wasn't one of those awards where they actually announce the winner and you go and pick it up. It was an earlier thing where they announce it in the middle of the show. There was a clip of the video when it was announced so there was definitely a moment there.

Ryan Merchant: Although they showed the wrong video. Someone fucked up and played the wrong one.

Sebu Simonian: I think that is a fun fact to the moment of winning the award.

WCT: Who came up with the concept for it?

Sebu Simonian: We both did. We had two previous versions for that video. The first one was one that Ryan and I did after collecting footage off of YouTube. It was mostly dance but some war juxtapositioning them back and forth chronicling over 100 years. So based off of that we did more of a high budget video with some assistance. We had to forego all of the war footage and make it a mashup of dance scenes.

WCT: Maybe you could have war in a future video...

Sebu Simonian: We will fit some in one day and do some damage!

WCT: There was even some gender-switching in the video.

Ryan Merchant: It was fun.

WCT: I loved the whole Xanadu and disco vibe.

Sebu Simonian: Hey, we love Xanadu, too! We do a cover song of a disco song.

WCT: Yes, you have a song: "Farrah Fawcett Hair."

Ryan Merchant: It is an embodiment about things that are undeniably good. Farrah Fawcett's hair epitomizes that idea, like the perfect hair.

WCT: The perfect 10...

Ryan Merchant: Exactly.

WCT: Andre 3000 is on that particular song. How did you wind up working with him?

Ryan Merchant: We wanted to put a verse on the song because we had this middle section. We wanted to find a good hip hop artist so we came up with Andre because he is a quirky artist that tows the line between hip hop and pop music. He has a really interesting sensibility that is similar to ours. Our manager just reached out to him and sent him the track. We were pretty much done. We had recorded everything except for his part. He loved it. He recorded a verse in his studio and we did a little bit of back and forth over the Internet then finished it off.

WCT: What inspired you to cover Madonna's "Holiday?"

Sebu Simonian: Madonna! Well, not directly but the song is so good it needed to be covered.

WCT: Is it hard to have your own take on something like that?

Sebu Simonian: It is a challenge. It was a homework assignment that we assigned ourselves.

Ryan Merchant: That first album that she released still sounds like modern electropop if you listen to it today. Some many bands sounds like that now. I remember listening to that song and how it sounds so modern.

WCT: I wonder if Madonna has heard your version.

Ryan Merchant: Her manager has heard it because he has tweeted at us.

Sebu Simonian: She lives in a bubble so may not have heard it.

WCT: She is surrounded by bodyguards all the time. You guys went to Mexico?

Ryan Merchant: We are going to Mexico and South America. We love Latin America.

WCT: What is your ethnicity?

Sebu Simonian: I am Armenian. My family immigrated here in the early '80s.

Ryan Merchant: My family are both Irish and Hungarian mixed.

WCT: You just toured with Gold Fields, one of my favorites.

Sebu Simonian: We are labelmates.

WCT: I am hoping they will break through, like Capital Cities has. They were playing your music on the radio when I was driving over to meet you. Are you aware of how big your music is right now?

Ryan Merchant: You are kind of in a bubble.

WCT: Like Madonna!

Ryan Merchant: Yes, but because it is blowing up right now we are just so busy. It is nonstop and we have no time off to walk through the world and realize that "Safe and Sound" is being played everywhere.

Sebu Simonian: I don't know about you but I have my radio stations set to the six stations that might be playing it and I just push the buttons back and forth whenever I am in my car.

WCT: You are supporting them and they are supporting you at the same time.

Sebu Simonian: It is just exciting to hear your own song just for the fact that a lot of people are listening to it at the same time. That is really thrilling.

WCT: Do you feel pressure for the next single to be huge again?

Sebu Simonian: There is some pressure but we should just be confident in what we have done and just hope for the best.

WCT: You are DJing at after parties, also. Do you do that often?

Sebu Simonian: Not as often as we like. We should because it is fun. Our set is very DJ-ish, anyways. We usually end the set with a remix to keep the party going.

WCT: What is coming out in the future?

Ryan Merchant: We have a lot of stuff coming out.

Sebu Simonian: More touring...

Ryan Merchant: We are touring in Europe then we will be back in the U.S. with Fitz and The Tantrums headlining.

We have a new music video for our second single, "Kangaroo Court."

Ryan Merchant: It is experimental for us and gets a little darker, comparing it to "Safe and Sound." It is about alienation and being judged or feeling like you don't belong. It follows a character around who is looking to let go and be free. He wants to be accepted so he goes to the dark part of town. He parties his way out of his problems. That is the idea of the song. The music video tells that story but with animals. We are all dressed up like animals for the video.

WCT: Which animal are you?

Ryan Merchant: I'm a zebra.

WCT: I would be a monkey if it was me!

Sebu Simonian: There are monkeys in there.

WCT: Many of our readers in the LGBT community have suffered from alienation and being picked on, including myself, so it seems like we can identify with the track.

Ryan Merchant: The video kind of touches on that idea.

Capital Cities return to Chicago Friday, Nov. 22, at the Aragon Ballroom. For more on the band, visit capitalcitiesmusic.com .


This article shared 9054 times since Tue Nov 19, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Planet Sex,' Critics Choice Awards, Madonna, Theo James 2023-01-22
- The show Planet Sex with Cara Delevingne will debut on Hulu on Feb. 14 (Valentine's Day), Out noted. Planet Sex is a six-episode docuseries following the model/actress. "On this immersive journey, she puts her mind and ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Indigo Girls, LGBTQ+ films, GALECA nods, Jeremy Pope 2023-01-15
- Indigo Girls will perform at an opening-night celebration for the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 19 in Park City, Utah, Variety reported. The Grammy-winning lesbian folk-rock duo are debuting their new documentary, It's Only Life After All, ...


Gay News

Jordan Vasquez treats Chicago to Fosse's Chicago 2023-01-12
- Actor and openly gay performer Jordan Vasquez, an Illinois native now living in New York City, is giving Chicago audiences "the old razzle dazzle" in the fabulous musical Chicago. This dynamically talented performer brings with him ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Diversity report, Dave Bautista, Leslie Jordan, greatest singers 2023-01-08
- The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative's latest "Inclusion in the Director's Chair" report analyzes the gender and race/ethnicity of the directors behind last year's 100 highest-grossing movies in the country, while the San Diego State Center ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Best in theater, TV, film and music; Obama's favorites; 'Glass Onion' 2022-12-31
- Deadline's Broadway critic revealed his picks for the best of 2022. Leopoldstadt topped his list, but other productions included Kimberly Akimbo, Some Like It Hot, Into the Woods, Hangmen, Ain't No Mo', A Strange Loop, Topdog/Underdog, ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Janelle Monae, Harvey Guillen, Whitney Houston, 'Drag Race,' Greg Berlanti 2022-12-24
- Janelle Monae has teased a new album, joking that they now has a "clone" for music who has been hard at work in the studio, NME noted. Monae—whose leading part as Helen Brand in the new Glass Onion: ...


Gay News

WORLD Ghana funding, Latvia measure, Russia items, trans princess 2022-12-18
- Some Western governments who pledged to support LGBTQI+ rights have also funded supporters of a controversial bill in Ghana that could introduce harsh sentences for advocating for sexual and gender minorities' rights, CNN reported. In the ...


Gay News

Life is a Cabaret for James Harkness these days 2022-12-14
- Out performer James Harkness is one of the many performers in Cabaret ZaZou's Luminaire, the latest project from the creative team behind the successful show Teatro ZinZanni. Currently in an open run since Sept. 7, 2022, ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jerrod Carmichael, 'Heartstopper,' Lena Waithe, Gyllenhaal, Cher 2022-12-11
- Out comedian Jerrod Carmichael will host the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Deadline reported. After a yearlong hiatus, the three-hour telecast will air on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023 from The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on NBC and ...


Gay News

Filmmaker reworks locally-produced holiday film Scrooge & Marley for upcoming stage reading 2022-12-07
- It's been 10 years since Chicago writer/musician/perfomer Richard Knight, Jr. co-directed and co-wrote the LGBTQ+ holiday film Scrooge & Marley. "One of the most memorable nights of my life was the premiere at the Music Box, ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Bros,' awards, Bjork, video-game love story, 'White Lotus' 2022-12-04
- The gay rom-com film Bros started streaming on Peacock on Dec. 2, Out noted. Written by Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller (and directed by the latter), Bros was produced by Judd Apatow and starred Eichner along with an all-LGBTQ+ ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Elton John, Leslie Jordan, Joel Kim Booster, Janelle Monae 2022-11-27
- Elton John gave Los Angeles concluded a three-show run on Nov. 20 back inside Dodger Stadium, taking a final bow as part of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour," according to The Hollywood Reporter. The concert ...


Gay News

MUSIC: Sophie B. Hawkins talks LGBTQ+ youth and living an authentic life 2022-11-24
- In the '90s, singer-songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins made quite an impression on people with the entrancing song "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" and its accompanying video. She also had hits such as "Right Beside You" ...


Gay News

WORLD Brazilian musician, top LGBTQ+ cruises, Elon Musk, anti-trans attack 2022-11-20
- Brazilian musician Pedro Sampaio revealed that he dates men and women, Out noted. Sampaio has 7 million monthly listeners on Spotify, more than 5 million followers on Instagram and several music videos with more than 50 ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Grammy nominees, Gabrielle Union, Trevor Noah, Brendan Fraser 2022-11-20
- Out Magazine compiled a list of some of the 2023 LGBTQA+ Grammy nominees. Among those on the list were Brandi Carlile (who earned another seven Grammy nominations this year, raising her career total to 25), Lady ...


 




Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.