Chicago duo j. pastel came together last year when Chase Durrett and Casey Bruce found a shared escapism in music, and will soon release a much-anticipated debut EP, announced with sure-fire floor-filler single Senegal.
Second teaser single, Strawberry Lemonade, is a gorgeously-glimmering slice of woozy bedroom dream-pop, all sparse production and earnest vocals that shows the duo’s ability to soundtrack early-hours introspection as much as the collective elation of the previous offering.
The pair spoke to Secret Meeting about some of their biggest influences together and apart…
Three albums we love
John Mayer – Continuum (Casey’s pick)
My dad and this album was the reason I picked up a guitar for the first time and never looked back. Like most people, I perceived John Mayer as the guy who wrote Your Body is a Wonderland and made the occasional tabloid. That very much changed when I listened to Continuum. One of my favourite things about Mayer is he pulls the masses in with his catchy songwriting expecting to hear Daughters and then he’ll break into an unapologetic and eye-opening 10 minute guitar solo. I think Continuum perfectly represents that approach. At its core a blues album disguised as a pop album and I still circle back to that album and learn from it to this day.
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills & Nash (Chase’s pick)
I discovered this album when I was 18 and it changed music for me. I was going through a really tough heartbreak and listening to this got me through it. The craftsmanship on this album is unbelievable and it set the standard for me in terms of quality of songwriting. What I love most about this album is that it covers the entire spectrum of human emotion; it goes from exploring the excitement and complexity of life in Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, to exploring the death throes of love in Helplessly Hoping. Although the music that we make as j. pastel sounds nothing like it, this album influences me when I’m writing every song. Their use of harmony and creative instrumentation – i.e. on songs like Marrakesh Express and Guinnevere – influenced many bands and artists that came after.
Tame Impala – Currents (joint pick)
We went back and forth on whether to nominate this as our shared favourite album but it is undoubtedly the one. Tame Impala is the artist we instantly bonded over in our initial studio sessions and what sent us on our journey to someday (if we are lucky) make music on his level. We are always striving to find the right balance between the analogue and digital world through our work and no one does it better in our opinion than Mr. Kevin Parker.
One film we love
Fight Club (Casey’s pick)
Whenever I watch Fight Club it acts as a mental reset for me. As dark and extreme as it may get, it’s so good at putting things in perspective. Favourite quote: “This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time”.
A book we love
Erich Maria Remarque – All Quiet on the Western Front (Chase’s pick)
This novel was written by a veteran of World War 1, and it tells the story of a young recruit in the German Army named Paul Bäumer who is stationed on the western front during the war. I absolutely love history and especially the first half of the 20th century, so this novel means a lot. I think that the trials that young men faced in WW1, on all sides, are often forgotten and overshadowed by WW2 and this book does a fantastic job of bringing that history to life. It’s full of many things–the excitement of youth, the idea of glory that drew so many of these young men to enlist, and the brutal reality that was the first world war. If you ever need something to read I’d highly recommend this book!
One song that’s important
The 1975 – The Birthday Party (joint pick)
We think this song is important for a few reasons. Its sheer beauty could be the only reason itself, but it does so much more than that. The casual lyricism reads like a therapy session for the singer, yet it’s somehow still so relatable even though it’s a workshop in specificity. The genre-less nature of the song makes it so unique. It walks the line between being a slow country ballad, and 90’s alt rock anthem, a jazz piece, and an electronica ballad. To match it all, the music video is just a trip. The 1975 are a huge influence on us and we always admire how bold they are in exploring new sounds, so we think this song really represents that.
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