“Windows Down” on Dream Pop

An interview with Tangerine

For the past few years, Seattle/LA dream pop trio Tangerine has been gaining attention through a steady release of songs that have been dubbed “windows down pop” by Rookie magazine.  Comprised of sisters Marika and Miro Justad along with Toby Kuhn, Tangerine embarked on a brief tour of the West Coast. I got the chance to interview them before I watched them perform at the Doug Fir Lounge last Tuesday, February 12.

Jake: How has the tour been going so far? Any crazy stories?

Miró: This has been one of the more bizarre tours so far for sure! We left LA and headed straight for Seattle where we played our first show at one of our favorite venues, Chop Suey. The next day it literally dumped historic amounts of snow in the whole region, and we were all snowed into different areas of the city for days. I’m sure bands are experiencing this across the U.S. right now. It’s kinda exciting but also slightly dangerous for traveling, and also magical all at the same time?

Jake: In 2017, you guys moved from your hometown of Seattle to LA.  What are some of the biggest differences in music scene?

Marika: Seattle is small and nurturing, and it’s relatively easy to map out the things you need to do as a new band to be successful. LA is vast and there’s so much going on which is really fun, but it can also be a little mysterious too. The best thing about the scene is that on any given night if you want to go to a cool show, you can.  

Jake: When describing Tangerine, many journalists have used the word “nostalgic,” both in terms of musical influence and visual aesthetics.  Do you guys feel like this label is appropriate?

Marika: The music we make and the visuals that go with it are often dreamt up simultaneously — [the EP] White Dove was our ode to moving to Los Angeles, to leaving things behind, to being on the road, to reflecting on the choices that brought us to where we are now. Visually, we wanted to shoot videos that felt like they were shot in film despite the fact that all we had was an iPhone 8. So there’s definitely a nostalgic glow to it all — a different word for it might be dreamy. “Cherry Red” is a very nostalgic song about friendships from childhood and my early 20s that I’ve left behind. For the video we drove to Redondo Beach and took influence from the 1980s movie Lost Boys. We have fun creating these worlds within worlds.

Jake: The Guardian described your music as “mid-fi,” combining heavier garage rock (like The Strokes) with a more polished dream pop sound.  When working on a song’s production, does trying to balance these two sounds ever come into play?

Miró: I forgot that they used that term — I actually think that totally makes sense for our music. We like to write expansive pop songs, but without that sterile sheen that can come from a big studio. Our latest song “CHAINS” was made on GarageBand in our living room in LA.

Jake: What does your songwriting process look like? Does someone come up with a riff and then you all build from there?

Toby: A lot of the time, a song’s genesis will come from Marika starting with a vocal melody, accompanied by a few chords — we’ll then tweak it together and start to get an idea of the structure, and add more complex chord changes. Sometimes a song will start just by Toby playing a riff on guitar or bass that will inspire Marika to write a melody over it. Lately we have been writing and demoing simultaneously. So a lot of the writing is recorded straight onto the bones of a song, which has been a lot of fun.

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