Meet the Music: Elna Rae
Tempe, Arizona band Elna Rae gave us a glimpse of their musical capability of through their intricate 4 track EP "Dexter." Without a doubt, Elna Rae is a band to keep your eye on. The band is comprised of Nitin Nanda (guitar) , Naman Nanda(guitar), Omar Biebrich ( guitar) ,Sam Diaz-Granados (Drums, and I assume Guitar), and our boi Conner Willson (The band's personal medical specialist, and guitar) I feel like the more interviews I do, the less formal I make these intros. Look, just check this band out. These dudes are dope. The music is dope. What else do you want from me? We recently had the opportunity to talk to these "four young cooks trying not to burn the reverb" , and it was glorious. Check it outtttttttt. Them Rapid Fire Q'ssssssss
1. What is your honest opinion on Thanksgiving?
Naman: Turkey sucks. 2. What music have you guys been into lately? Naman: Booty Feet Sam: ICP for life (whoop whoop) Omar: Full of Hell Nitin: The Radio Dept. 3. Who would win in a fight? The Boss Baby or Garfield’s doppleganger in “Garfield a Tail of 2 Kitties?” Omar: Boss Baby hands down. Boss Baby is the only baby that is a full grown adult and Garfield’s doppelganger is just a cat and we eat those. Nitin: It’s really funny you asked this because we’re huge Boss Baby fans. We’ve watched it together more times than we care to admit and our band group chat is called Boss Baby Memes Only (18+) 4. Can you guys do a cover of “Dancing Queen” by ABBA and post it on youtube? Nitin: We can do a cover of Mama Mia and post it on Soundcloud. 5. My friend Luke recently got married. How do I convince him to name his first born after me? Omar: Steal his wife. 6. If I buy a nickel board, will you guys help me film a skate part? Sam: Hell yeah brother. 7. Why is Ray Romano the best human being to ever live? Naman: Am I supposed to know who that is? 8. (3x - 5) (2x -4x + 7) Omar: 9. What is the name of your band group text? Omar: Oops, guess we already answered this. Boss Baby Memes Only (18+) 10. What is the worst band in the history of bands? Elna Rae: Journey
Them Slow cooked Q'ssssssssss
Isaac “Criminal Knuckles” Gutierrez for Born Loser.: To start off, can you guys introduce yourselves? Nitin: Naman, Omar, and I are all from Mesa, Arizona. We’ve known each other since middle school and started making YouTube covers in high school with our buddy Conner. The four of us always wanted to start a band but we gave up on the idea after I left to go to Middlebury College in Vermont. I ended up transferring to ASU after a few semesters and the four of us started writing songs in my garage last summer. The problem was that we all played guitar so Naman picked up the bass and I hopped on the drums. We ended up finding an actual drummer through mutual friends and he played our first few shows with us but things didn’t work out and we found ourselves back to square one. Naman remembered seeing a snapchat of his suitemate, Sam, playing drums so we hit him up on a whim in February. Sam had learned all of our EP by the time we had our first practice together and he fit right in with us personality-wise so we fell in love with him within the first 30 minutes. Unfortunately, Conner quit the band a couple weeks ago as he is preparing for med school but he’ll always be a part of Elna Rae in our hearts.
How would you describe your sound? Sam: Like four young cooks trying not to burn the reverb.
Talk to us about your EP “Dexter” ?
Nitin Is there a reaction of feeling you wanted to cause in your listeners with this EP? Nitin: I think the songs on our EP are linked lyrically and instrumentally through feelings of malaise and a desire for release or catharsis, which are relatable feelings for most listeners. I guess we just hope our music comes across as genuine and authentic. Where does the EP’s name come from? Tell us about the cover art. Sam: : We recorded “Dexter” last December, a few months after Conner, Naman, Omar, and I started jamming. We were still trying to “find” our sound at the time, which I think is reflected in the stylistic differences between the songs on the EP. That used to bother me a lot but looking back on it, all of our new songs combine aspects of all the songs on “Dexter.” Now that we’ve found our sound (at least for now), it’s nice to be able to look back at “Dexter” and see how we evolved. Dexter is the name of my dog! He was just a few months old when we first started recording and he would always try and come into our practice room while we were playing and mess with the pedals and equipment. He’s just as big a part of Elna Rae as any of us so we wanted to show him some love J
Naman: I just got a new point n shoot and was shooting some pics in the Elna Rae backyard! The cover art is actually a pic of Omar bending over Sam’s pool.
Who does the writing typically and how does that process look? Nitin: Omar or I will usually come to practice with a new chord progression or riff idea and then we all jam on them together. Our song writing process is very collaborative! Do you have an intentional sound when you sit down and create new music whether that is individually or collectively? Nitin: This is something we never really paid attention to in the beginning because we just wanted to write cool stuff. There was a period after we released “Dexter” where that bothered me but in hindsight, I’m glad we allowed ourselves to explore. Now that we have found our style, we want to make sure that our upcoming album has a consistent feel, both thematically and musically, so the song writing process for the album has been intentional in that sense. That being said, we love experimenting too much to pigeonhole ourselves so I don’t think our sound will ever stop evolving. So what are you guys doing when you’re not rehearsing or performing or writing? Nitin: We’re usually just playing with Dexter, playing Gamecube, or just chilling when we’re all hanging out in a non-musical context. Naman, Omar, and I live in the same house and Sam is just a few minutes down the road so we’re around each other all the time! Did you have a specific moment where you realized that you wanted to pursue music?
Nitin: It was a gradual realization for me. My parents got Naman and me started with piano lessons when we were 4 and I played in piano competitions through middle school. I loved sports more at that time though and quit piano so I could focus on soccer and tennis in high school. I ended up breaking my shin and tearing my ACL, MCL, and meniscus in a soccer injury, which left me unable to play sports competitively. I gradually got back into music and over time it has grown to be the one thing that gets me out of bed every single day.
I always have a hard time coming up with names. How hard was it to choose a band name? Were there any other options? Nitin: Definitely feel ya on that one. We sent hundreds of name ideas back and forth and we couldn’t all agree on anything. When we got asked to play our first show last November, we just settled on the name Newports because Omar smoked Newports all the time back then. We weren’t stoked on it and anytime I was asked what our band’s name was, I’d say “Newports, but we’re going to change it.” When Sam joined the band in February, we started practicing at his house on Elna Rae Street. I can’t remember who suggested we call ourselves Elna Rae but it was the first suggestion that nobody had issues with so we decided to go with it!
I feel like the AZ music scene is really starting to grow and thrive. You're actually the second band from the Phoenix area that I get to interview. How would you describe the Music scene in the Phoenix area? And how do you think it has influenced your music and you as a band? Nitin: Yes! The Phoenix music scene is truly becoming something of its own and it’s so exciting to be a part of it. I have been going to house shows since I was in high school and I’ve definitely noticed a change over the last year and a half in particular. The scene used to be dominated by in-your-face garage rock and punk bands but I’m seeing it head in a dreamier, more atmospheric direction with bands such as Pro Teens, James Band, Nanami Ozone, and Gabi. There’s also been a sweet revival of jazz-funk influences with bands such as Eye 19, Nick Perkins, and Lil Trip. There’s going to be a TON of rad music coming out of Phoenix within the next year and I’m stoked that Phoenix will finally be on everyone’s radar. Who would you consider musical influences? Title Fight, NOT Turnover, Lotus Plaza, Duster, Belong What do you guys do to insure a good show?
Sam: We ritualistically drink 40s before every show.
Is there a song that you guys enjoy playing the most at shows? Nitin: We have a song called Body Pillow that starts with Naman playing some anime clips from his phone through the mic.
Who are some of your favorite bands that you’ve gotten to share the stage with?Naman: Elnuh (our soulmates from San Antonio), Innerwave, Pro Teens, Hovvdy, Jerry Paper, and Go Outside. Do you have any favorite onstage moments? Nitin: Omar said “We’re Elna Rick, Morty” completely deadpan at a show a few weeks ago and everyone just stared at us.
How often do you guys have band practice, and what does that usually look like? Nitin: We practice once a week but will try to squeeze in 2 or 3 more on weeks we play shows. We usually start practices by jamming on new song ideas for a while before running through our set list a few times. We all get along really well so practices are a lot of fun and we usually just hang for a while afterwards. If you had to kick someone out of the band to make room for me, who would it be?
Omar: Let’s commit group Sudoku and start a new band in the afterlife. I read on twitter that someone stole some of your equipment at a house show?? How did that go down? Who was it? Call them out right now. We’ll fight them. Nitin: This is fact. We host a lot of shows at our house and one of the touring bands from Idaho conveniently took Sam’s nice drum throne and left a piece of shit instead. It so thin you can feel your butt hit the bottom of the cushion. Sam’s also missing some of his cymbals. Not cool you jabronis Speaking of house shows, do you approach those shows differently than you do a show at a venue? Nitin: House shows are a ton of fun because people get a lot closer to us and move a lot more than they do at venues. Sound can sometimes be an issue at house shows though so I guess we just pay a little more attention to that. This is a question I’ve been asking a lot lately, because I usually get some pretty good responses. What has been your best show so far, and what has been your worst?
Nitin: We had a headline slot at ASU’s Clusterfest last spring but due to work conflict, we had to switch last minute to the 11am slot and only had 15 minutes to play before Omar had to leave for work. We were all kind of cranky and played really sloppy and it was just a terrible set. Our best show so far was the Pro Teen’s tape release with Elnuh and Gabi. Elnuh drove all the way from San Antonio just for this show because they’re a bunch of sweethearts and Pro Teens and Gabi are some of my favorite local bands. Plus the show was at our house so we literally felt right at home with some of our favorite bands and there’s really nothing more you can ask for. What would be your dream collaboration? Nitin: Elna Rae x Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. I would die.
What do you want to accomplish with/through your music? Nitin: We just want to make music that we feel passionately about and that’s something we’ll continue to do no matter what. Hopefully other people connect with our music enough to want to support us along the way so that this is something we can pursue full-time and for the rest of our lives. What is something that you want everyone to know about Elna Rae? Naman: We’re just four young pups eager to please J
What should we be on the lookout for from Elna Rae this coming year? What are some goals you’ve set for yourself?
Nitin: We’ll be in the studio recording our first full-length album this December. We’re working with Eamon Ford, who recorded, mixed, and mastered Dexter, and we’re really stoked about that because he has a good sense of our style and understands the sound we want even when we aren’t able to verbalize it ourselves. We’ll also be touring for the first time in March 2018! As far as goals go, we’re really working on making sure that our shows are consistently good. Every band has good and bad sets for a variety of different reasons. Our goal is to make sure that we nail the element that we’re in control of, which means A LOT of practicing with a metronome. And to wrap things up, do you dudes have any questions for me? Jabronis - are we doing enough?
Congratulations on the EP I absolutely love it and I’m excited to see what is next for Elna Rae. Best of luck to you dudes
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