Run River North

In the course of several months, Run River North went from playing a handful of
hometown shows inLos Angeles to performing to an audience of millions on late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live! It was an explosive trajectory for the sextet, whose uplifting anthems march to the beat of drums, jangling guitars and a rapturous string section. The rapid ascent from obscurity launched a new chapter for the band (then called Monsters Calling Home), whose upcoming full-length self-titled debut venturesfurther into effervescent rock anchored with a down-home aesthetic.

On the self-titled debut, the songs ebb and flow with optimism, traversing emotional and musical landscapes woven into the strings duo of Daniel Chae and Jennifer Rim, alongside the galloping rhythm section of bassist Joe Chun, keyboardist Sally Kang and drummer John Chong. Together, their voices coalesce as one, a chorus calling out with a gentle urgency. The music of Run River North explores the ever-shifting search for self, from the energetic indie-rock interludes to the lonesome guitar strums, always asking the question: Is home a place or is it the people in your life? “We’re not a posh, polished pop sound,” says Alex Hwang, Run River North's singer/songwriter. “We have stories we want to tell and they take a little more time. After all, the journey to find your place is a long one, it’s an ongoing, evolving adventure.”

The personal stories of the band members are as compelling as the songs themselves. Hwang and his band mates all came from families who moved to Southern California from Asia, and he says that the album reflects their shared search for a sense of home. "The immigrant experience is unique, but our songs also address that universal struggle for identity,” Hwang says. "We wanted to write about it and share the stories about being 'dash American.'"

Hwang's lyrics often reflect the earliest folk heroes, whose narratives broach themes of hope, struggle, and the courage to carry on. "For immigrants who come here whose degrees don’t work here and they don't speak the language, many have worked at liquor stores or Laundromats, which a lot of our families did. Then you raise kids who grow up here who look at their American friends and wonder why they don't have those kinds of lives. The song “Monsters Calling Home" is about immigrant parents and their search to make the ‘American Dream happen.’" The bombastic chords of the song hold up Hwang’s powerful voice, relaying the hardships of "digging for worth under a foreign sun." On "Growing Up," acoustic strums commingle with sweeping violins, as Hwang sings about a
man who realizes that “home is who you give your love to and your time to.” That somber track “Lying Beast” is a classic prodigal son story, based on a melody from an ancient Korean folk song, about unrequited love between a couple on a mountain pass. “It has message of longing for something that you think is home, but you're not sure how to handle it when you see it,” Hwang says. The overlap of Asian and American folk is subtle, reflecting the hyphenated existence of the band members. “We didn't want to be a K-Pop band; they do it so well, but we’d be terrible at it,” Hwang jokes.

Like so many adventures, the troupe's own journey began in a car. In 2012, the cash-strapped band decided that instead of expensive studio space, they would record a song entirely inside of their Hondas. "In the beginning," says Alex Hwang, "we were recording a song every month and making a video for each song. Then we thought, 'what would happen if we recorded an entire song in our cars?'"

The simple experiment filmed in those cramped environs became a viral sensation, as their song "Fi ght to Keep" spread across the Internet. The people at Honda noticed and invited the band to perform at the executive offices. Then, the truth emerged. Instead of playing for Honda, they were booked as the musical guests on Jimmy Kimmel Live! "We had no idea," Hwang says. "We thought that we would just play for Honda executives. It was surreal, since we were going on in two hours, we couldn’t even process how to be nervous, so we just played the best we could."

The surprise performance charted a new course for the band. From their gritty beginnings on tour--where Hwang says they'd sell burned CDs and crash at the homes of gracious audience members--to now selling out Los Angeles' legendary venue, The Troubadour.

Riding the tide of new found notoriety, Hwang and the band recorded their self-titled debut with producer Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, Built to Spill, Band of Horses), which burgeons with richly layered harmonies, dynamic instrumentation, and evocative storytelling. About working with Ek, drummer Chong says, “he thinks outside the box with all his projects. I love how he allows the artist to be really creative with structures, chord choices, metric changes, etc." “A common thread between his records is that you come away with a strong sense of feeling,” continues band member Chae. Recording the album in Seattle, Hwang jokes, “so curious and excited to see how our songs and band will grow... Run River North(west).”

Run River North self-titled debut is set for release on February 25, 2014 via Nettwerk Records.

On the single “Alive,” HAWAI [pronounced huh-why] charismatically carries the chorus, “I want to be alive, here in the darkness, under the stars, there’s only your light.”
It’s more than just a catchy chant for the Orange County quartet—Jake Pappas [vocals, guitar], Jesse “Bumper” Dorman [drums], Jared Slaybaugh [bass, vocals], and Matt Gillen [keyboards, synths]. Rather, it represents the awakening explored on their forthcoming second EP, Hide in the Ocean [Antler Records]. It’s the moment when you realize you don’t know everything. It’s the realization that longstanding beliefs you’ve held onto can change. It’s when you embrace change.
It’s the day you wake up, forget about trying to fit in, and just be alive…
“I had an awakening,” Pappas affirms. “I thought, ‘There’s so much knowledge out there, there are so many beliefs, and there’s so much to discover.’ I was okay not knowing. The song is an invitation asking, ‘While I’m trying to figure it all out, does someone want to come on this journey with me?’ I felt like it was time to go out on the boat in the middle of that vast ocean.”
That boat first set sail in 2015. Formed by longtime friends, HAWAI came together with a pure, passionate, and powerful vision equally steeped in alternative, rock, and pop. Produced by Lars Stalfors [Cold War Kids, Deap Vally], their 2016 debut Working All Night EP yielded fan favorites such as “All Night,” “In My Head,” “Fault,” and more, which cumulatively totaled 1 million Spotify streams. The group’s brand of beach-swept alternative bliss generated a serious critical buzz too. Everyone from Consequence of Sound and Magnet to Indie Shuffle and Alternative Press offered praise, while the boys headlined many shows across SoCal.
Back in Los Angeles, they quietly assembled Hide in the Ocean with the help of producer Frederik Thaae [Atlas Genius]. The new tracks marked a sonic progression. Together, they incorporated more synths into HAWAI’s signature salvo of kinetic guitars. Meanwhile, Jake lyrically cut right to the chase—“getting directly to the point like never before,” as he describes it.
“We had something with Frederik from the very beginning,” the vocalist elaborates. “He helped make things a little more concise. He taught me how to loosen my grip on aspects of the music.”
The first single “I’m Not Dead” illuminated this evolution. Praised by Paste as “the track fans have been waiting for,” it quickly crossed the 100K mark on Spotify in a few months’ time. Awash in fuzzy guitars and warm keys, it encodes a theme within the plea, “Come with me to the ocean. Let’s hide in the ocean.’”
“The concept is to go to somewhere that’s completely undiscoverable,” explains Jake. “The ocean is 70% of the earth’s surface, but it’s uncharted. The theme is wanting company in this unknown place. We’re hiding there together.”
The clarion call and shimmering second single “Alive” tempers an upbeat synth spark and bombastic rhythms with a thought-provoking chant.
“It embodies this image of not just wanting to breathe, walk, and talk, but to really live,” he exclaims. “People say they feel alive, but what does that mean? How do you get there? I want to really feel alive. That’s what I’m crying out for.”
Over the course of Hide in the Ocean, that energy transmits right to the hearts and minds of listeners.
“When people hear this thing, I hope they ask questions,” Jake leaves off. “I started asking questions while I was working on it. That inspired me to dig deeper. If they feel like it sounds rad and it also makes them think, that’d be all we could ever ask for.”
Get ready to dive in with HAWAI.

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