Calling Cadence — Interview
Life may be like a plain old box of chocolates, but according to Calling Cadence—whose debut self-titled album dropped on May 3—their music is just as sweet, but with some vegan options thrown in for good measure. That is to say, there are a lot of varying flavors in the mix, but regardless of what smacks your taste buds when you bite into one of their songs, just know that you’re always getting some high-quality candy-coated harmonies with each and every offering.
I recently sat down with Rae Cole and Oscar Bugarin to discuss striking while the iron’s hot, why they are such great dance partners, and how their musical diversity makes the band easily digestible to fans of all genres.
AH: First and foremost, what a cool record your self-titled debut turned out to be. In your opinion, how do these songs best represent who Calling Cadence is? Why is it the perfect first impression for those who have yet to experience your music?
RC: Thank you so much! Calling Cadence is a project that has been on its musical journey for a few years, and we have put so much hard work, heart and soul into these songs. The songs themselves are a collection of experiences we’ve had individually, and as a band, so to have them on our first album is pretty exhilarating. Our name actually derives from the army term “cadence,” which is when soldiers perform a call and response while marching. In a way, we like to think of these songs as a call and response with our audiences—something our fans can turn on and sing along with. As a band who loves to perform live, we’ve taken note on which tunes people enjoy listening to the most. These specific songs are ones we’ve felt connect with audiences in a certain, positive way. So all in all, we didn’t have too hard of a time picking out which ones we wanted.
OB: Thank you so very much! Thanks for having us here. It’s been something we’ve both dreamed of doing, being fans of “old school” music since we were kids. I think it’s a good first impression because the songs really represent our musical make-ups as individuals and as Calling Cadence. Looking back now, I can see how our influences came out in our songwriting so effortlessly when we just followed our ears and our hearts, and the song. For me it’s a great start, we’re still evolving, and we learned so much from this experience—I can’t wait to start working on the next album.
AH: The record is no songwriting slouch either because it features 15 tracks, which is an ambitious undertaking for a debut. Did you set out to accomplish this exact album when you went into the studio or was the experience a sort of living, breathing thing?
RC: The experience was definitely a living, breathing thing. There are definitely a few songs on there that had been written prior to the band forming, and others that were written right after we first started playing together. That was back in 2018—and we really didn’t start the album conception/recording process until the end of 2019. So everything was happening to a flow.
OB: Yes, definitely a living, breathing entity, in my opinion. We had the bones of the album when we went in, and a few more songs came out in between the sessions. To me songs are alive and have a soul of their own, and sometimes there’s no stopping them once they’ve found the right channel, kind of like a child. We just decided to keep recording, get it all while we can and strike while the iron’s hot.
AH: Your voices do this great vocal dance together throughout the record. What is it about your voices that makes each other great dance partners? Was their pairing an obvious choice when Calling Cadence first came together?
RC: (Laughter) We are great dance partners! Oscar and I have been singing together for years, in other bands and projects, and we both realized fairly early on that we both share an interest in good old fashioned harmony. I think we definitely like to add to each other’s voices in a complimenting way—a lot of singers want to show off what they’ve got, and the two of us share the idea that harmony shouldn’t overpower anything or anybody, just add a beautiful flavor. I know since I’ve joined this project, we’ve really learned how each other moves and sings, and it shows when we sing live together.
OB: Sometimes it still catches me off guard! We first started playing together in different bands around LA until we tried out a writing session together and heard how well our voices blend together. It’s harder to come by than you would think, we’re both big fans of harmony we connected instantly. It’s like playing your favorite game with your friends. We have a lot of fun when we get to sing together, and Rae can harmonize with just about anyone!
AH: What would someone learn about you in sitting down to listen to the album front to back?
RC: We have a wide range of sounds and styles that we like to play with while making music. And while recording everything analog is a testament to our physical capabilities, I’d like to think that anyone listening to our lyrics would see how much we’ve gone through as individuals, and as a band.
OB: Probably that we’re big fans of love and the music from “yesteryear.” I hope newer generations find our heroes and influences through our music. I hope it pays homage and respect to those great artist before us, just as they did for theirs. I would be a different musician writer without them.
AH: As far as genres go, I don’t think there is any way to fully classify Calling Cadence because as a band you’re so many things in one, which in itself makes the sound unique. With that said, do you find it difficult to self-promote the band given how diverse the sound is?
RC: It’s strange, we’ve always swam around genres like blues, rock, and pop, but you’re totally right—we’ve definitely developed so many more styles along the way! I don’t think so, I think every decent band is specific in their sound, so in a way, I think our diversity makes us more digestible for listeners of every genre.
OB: Sometimes, yes, but we can also fit into a few different audiences if you look at it that way, too. There’s rock, country, blues, funk, and country soul. We’re not trying to stick to a single genre, we like to wear a few different hats, and let the songs be what they want to be.
AH: Some of the songs found on your debut were originally conceived quite a few years ago. If we were to sit in on a Calling Cadence jam session today, would we hear even more genre diversity than we would in listening to the record?
RC: For sure! We have so many new, weird songs that we can’t wait to share with the world. Oscar and I are both very open to trying different styles, and it’s definitely something I enjoy about the band; it doesn’t limit us to a specific sound.
OB: Yes, we are kinda like a box of chocolates, with some vegan options. But seriously, we’re fans of so many different styles, we like to play anything inspiring to us. Although now-a-days we’re gettin’ into the blues more when we’re writing together. We’re always trying to find new inspiration to expand our music vocabulary and blend the old with the new!
AH: What does music do for you as a writer and performer that you are unable to experience as a listener alone? Could you walk away from music and still feel creatively whole?
RC: As a writer, music gives me a chance to express my feelings in an emotional, poetic way. It fills a creative space in my heart and soul, and really makes me feel validated for the way I feel about specific things. As a performer, music gives me such a high, especially when I can feel the connection between the music we’re making and the audience. There is nothing like being onstage, singing my heart out, and resonating with a receptive audience.
OB: I tried walking away from music, but the desire to make music and play music with other people became too much to try to subside. To be honest, it’s hard to go to concerts sometimes, I’ll just end up wanting to play. Half way through, I’ll start thinking about the songs, how they’re written, and then I’ll start thinking about what I want to play when I get my hands on a guitar again.
AH: The world has been a bit rocky these last two or three years. One of the things that has helped me through the downs (and fewer ups than usual) has been music. How have you seen the music you’re creating impact people in real time? Do those moments make all of the hard work worth it?
RC: Our first show since the release of our first few singles was at The Mint here in Los Angeles. We had a few fans that came out after they had heard us on the local radio station, and they were just so grateful and happy for the experience. Their appreciation for our music was so heartfelt and honest; I was so honored that our music was already starting to affect new people. I can’t wait to connect with more!
OB: It’s one of my favorite feelings in the whole world. I had an experience in San Francisco about a year ago, we were at a bar, having drinks in the new outside dining areas bars have now. I had my guitar with me and started playing some of our songs. On one particular song, “So Far,” some people were singing along with me after the second verse! It was so awesome to connect with people I’d just met. I can’t wait to do that with more people on the road, it completes it for me.
AH: Someone comes to you tomorrow with the golden ticket of tours and tells you that you can open for any artist, living or dead. Who would it be and why?
RC: For me, personally, it would be Fleetwood Mac—hands down. They’ve always been a staple of mine, and as a female performer, I just so admire Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie.
OB: Living today, I would love to open for Paul McCartney (or The Beatles), one of my biggest influences musically and it’s been a dream of mine to duet “Black Bird” with him, or any song for that matter. Would die happy.
AH: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
RC: I would 1000% take the journey. Music has and will always be my life, there is no other option for me, and I know Oscar would agree.
OB: Oh no, but I would be tempted for sure. These days I’m trying to live and be in the moment. I know it’s going to be all good, we’ve just started this journey and can’t wait to see what’s ahead further down the road, but today is just as good—and I’ll probably end up missing the good ole days 10 years from now anyway. Living for the future can take the important things out of focus, and it’s not really here yet, so I’m trying to enjoy what I have in front of me now.
Thank you for the questions, and thank you for enjoying our music!
Calling Cadence’s self-titled debut is available now.