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The California home where Instant People have been making their much-anticipated debut album ought to have a sign on the door. “Do not disturb,” it might say. “21st century West Coast sound being created inside.”
Cal Campbell (drums, guitar, vocals, programming, strings), Ry Jarred (lead vocals/ guitar) and Siggy Sjursen (bass, keys, programming) have spent many months in that workspace coming up with Instant People’s signature style. Those who’ve been lucky enough to catch it early, on the EP released as a “work in progress” during 2012 and sold at their initial gigs, have been hearing something uniquely theirs. It’s the sound of now, fuelled by smart electronica, post-modern beats and an undeniable indie edge, but with the harmony vocal sensibilities that defined an earlier West Coast era.
As Instant People prepare to unveil that first album, there’s great anticipation on both sides of the Atlantic.
Not for nothing did Janice Long, longtime new music champion and late night presenter on Europe’s most listened-to radio network, BBC Radio 2, rave at the band’s debut London performance in their own right and then rush into the studio to play their track ‘Abbot Waits’ on her show that very evening.
Cal Campbell prefers to be discovered on the strength of his own musicality rather than his heritage. But he’s also happy to recognise that being the son of one of the most legendary voices and guitarists in American popular music history, Glen Campbell, is a key part of who he is today. Not to mention that he has enriched his own development by playing in Glen’s band with Ry and Siggy on his poignant and moving farewell world tour, which continued to add ever more dates to fulfill demand throughout 2012.
Instant People’s debut album is full of anthemic moments that reach out for the future while respecting the past. The irresisitible rhythms of ‘Abbot Waits’ are complemented by other highlights such as ‘Into The Wonder,’ in which soaring synths sit side by side with acoustic guitar and banjo detail; the radio-friendly, upbeat ‘Play and Rewind,’ the atmospheric ‘Motherless Child’ and many more.
He and Ry Jarred have been friends since their teenage years in Phoenix, when word got around that Cal was looking for musicians to play with around town, and he heard a tape of Jarred. “I was like, how old is this kid? He sounded like a 30-year-old bluesman. Completely the wrong body and everything for the voice you were hearing.” The friends made music in their teen years and parted ways before too long. Having spent a good time apart they started making music again at Campbell’s studio in early 2010 and haven’t looked back.
Cal, Ry and Siggy experimented on early work under the Instant People name with contributions from his brother Shannon and sister Ashley.
Siggy had moved to California when he was offered the bass gig with New York-born artist Poe, playing in her band when they toured with Depeche Mode in 2001. He went on to work with the Dirty Heads and Powerman 5000, and to become music director for Solange Knowles, sister of Beyoncé. “I’ve always wanted to play with this guy because I shared a rehearsal space with him, that’s how I met him, and he was basically the best bass player I’ve seen.”
The debut album confirms the group as one of America’s most compelling new prospects, determined to follow their musical instincts rather than be led down a fleeting commercial cul de sac for the sake of it. “We take the track and change it into a world that has its own rules,” says Campbell, “and the rules are defined by the song itself.”