MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

The MIMO Interview: Capital Cities

A couple of years ago, few people had ever heard of electro-pop act Capital Cities. They started off as most indie bands do, with an EP, a single, and a lot of hope. As it turned out, that single, “Safe and Sound,” topped the Modern Rock charts in 2011, attracting the attention of Capitol Records, who signed the act in 2012. “Safe and Sound” got another big push with a video release last April; today, it’s a Platinum-selling hit, currently sitting at No. 8 on the Billboard Top 100. Last weekend, the video for “Safe and Sound” even snagged a VMA for Best Visual Effects.

Now, with their debut album In a Tidal Wave of Mystery climbing the charts, Capital Cities are riding a huge wave of success, traveling extensively and planning a fall tour with Fitz and the Tantrums. Bandmate Sebu Simonian was kind enough to answer a few questions for MIMO about the band’s newfound success.



MIMO: You guys have gone from being virtually unknown a couple of years ago to having a current Top Ten hit with “Safe and Sound.” That has to be a satisfying feeling. What has life been like since your song began charting?


Sebu: It’s very satisfying to have a top ten hit because it creates so much opportunity, but with that opportunity comes an insanely busy schedule. In the past week we’ve taken 12 different flights. That didn’t happen before having a top ten hit.


MIMO: Tell us a bit about the process of recording your album In a Tidal Wave of Mystery. How much of the album was actually recorded in the studio? Did you guys do any of the programming in home studios?


Sebu: We did the entire album in our little studio in Burbank, California. The songs were written and recorded over the course of three years, with some of them taking up to eight different versions before we were satisfied.


Capital Cities

Photo: Eliot Lee Hazel


MIMO: How do songs come together for you? Is it a similar process each time?


Sebu: It usually starts with a beat and chord progression programmed in Logic. We spend hours riffing over these beats until a unique melody or lyric pops out that both of us feel is special. Then the really hard work of crafting a cohesive song begins. That process can take a while.


MIMO: What has been your favorite memory of being on the road?


Sebu: We recently played a festival in Monterey, California and a bunch of my friends and family from San Francisco came down for it. After our show, we drank some beers and went on a bunch of rides at a fair that was attached to the festival. It was good to see family and friends and spend a few hours being completely carefree and relaxed.


Capital Cities

Photo: Jake Hagopian


MIMO: What is your favorite part of what you do as musicians? What is your least favorite part?


Sebu: The best part is getting to bring joy to people’s lives through our live performances. The worst part is having to remove my shoes and laptop for TSA at the airport.


MIMO: What’s up next for Capital Cities? Tour plans, any new music in the works?


Sebu: We are about to release a really awesome music video for our second single “Kangaroo Court”. It’s a crazy story, but fits perfectly with the song. Also planning a lot of touring through the end of the year.



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About the Author


Jeff McQ is a songwriter/composer/musician with a diverse resume that includes everything from directing music in church to scoring short films. In addition to his role as chief editor for Music Is My Oxygen (and writing our DIY Musician Channel), Jeff also covers the local music scene for Examiner.com in his hometown of Denver, Colorado, and maintains The Developing Artist [http://artistdevelopmentblog.com], a blog dedicated to offering advice and encouragement to indie musicians.

When he's not tinkering in his home studio or blogging for hours on his laptop at the local coffee shop (to the annoyance of the baristas), Jeff McQ enjoys taking in local shows, going on road trips, wandering aimlessly, and talking to himself.

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Posted in: Featured, MIMO Interviews, Pop Music


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