Streetlight Cadence is the
little band that could
By Naughty Mickie
I first encountered Streetlight Cadence
about a year ago when they were part of a Hawaiian artist showcase
at the Grammy Museum. These four young men were full of energy when
the performed their original alternate folk pop and their talent
soon had the audience sitting up and paying attention.
I knew then that I wanted to interview the
band, but as fate would have it, the thought sat on the back burner
until I ran into them again, this time at the annual Slack Key
Guitar Festival in Redondo Beach. I spoke with cellist, pianist and
orchestrator Brian Webb and we planned our chat.
Did I forget to mention what makes
Streetlight Cadence stand out? Webb is joined by violist and
guitarist Jonathan Franklin, accordionist and pianist Jesse Shiroma
and guitarist and drummer Benjamin Chai. They are all classically
trained musicians playing what they love. And they have shared a
journey too, from busking where they could to now being invited to
play at esteemed concerts around the globe.
Streetlight Cadence was started in Oahu in
2009 by Franklin, Webb tells me when we begin our chat. He met a
guitar player named Danny at an open mic night and the two decided
to start a band.
"Danny said we should make it so we have
interesting instruments in the group," Webb says.
The duo put out an ad on Craigslist, which
Shiroma answered and ended up joining the group. The trio of college
students hit open mic nights and other opportunities to gig.
"If you fast forward a bit, we had a lot of
members come and go and the prevailing theme of it is that Jon the
violin player, Jesse the accordion player and myself the cellist all
stuck around then meanwhile we had 10 other people come and go,"
Webb joined about six months after the group
initially formed. Webb was in the university orchestra with
Franklin, when he was first invited to jam with Streetlight Cadence.
He went to a rehearsal.
"Coming from a classical background I had no
idea how jamming worked or how bands worked or how any of it
worked." Webb goes on, "I was totally clueless so I got that
fundamental training through playing with Streetlight and about a
month later the guys asked me if I wanted to become a full member.
The offer was simple, it was learn the songs, play at some shows
together, street perform a lot and they said if I was really lucky
sometimes a girl might give me her phone number. I was like, yes!
Yes, I would totally do it."
Streetlight Cadence has now been based in
Los Angeles for four years, but not after winning a number of battle
of the band competitions in Hawaii and music awards for their
recordings, including two Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, Hawaii's
equivalent of the Grammys. In Southern California you may have heard
them performing in Downtown Disney or California Adventure.
"We're all proficient writers and we all
have slightly varied styles," Webb tells me. "You see a lot of that
represented on our most recent album, 'Momentary.' When we write
we're pretty bad at writing together as a band just because we're
all so different on how we approach our music, but generally one
person will flesh out a song and bring it to the group and we'll
work our arrangement together. We also might tweak the song as a
group as well, like melody and lyrics. From there we put the spin
and voicing of everyone's instruments on it and it turns into a
Streetlight Cadence starred in the 2018
Emmy-nominated television series, "Will Play for Food." The show was
the band's attempt to establish a non-traditonal platform, Webb
says. They were "copying 'The Monkees'" in hopes of gaining
attention and propeling themselves into the spotlight.
During the travel docuseries the band went
to various cities around the world where they had to busk to earn a
meal or the money to buy one.
It's harder than it sounds, as in Tokyo it's
illegal to street perform for money so they had to ask for food and
in Washington D.C. it was late and rainy so they only made $18 and
had to share three appetizers... eating them while wet and cold. If
you want to watch "Will Play for Food" the band is currently
releasing episodes on YouTube.
Streetlight Cadence still appreciates its
roots- and its strongest fan base.
"We still have a very strong connection to
Hawaii," affirms Webb. "In the past we would travel back there 10
times a year to do performances and that was too much. We're dialing
it back a little bit. We've only been five times in 2019."
Next the band plans to refocus on recording.
They release music monthly, but Webb says it is mainly demo quality
so they want to keep defining their style and get back into
recording. They also have a booking agent who is keeping them busy
and the band should be traveling more across the United States soon
rather than just focusing on the Pacific Rim.
Lastly we discuss Streelight Cadence's
"You could say it's nostalgic, but it's
sophisticated. Part of it is probably the fact that there is some
type of classical training that can be sensed in how we approach
playing because we all come from classical backgrounds. I think an
older audience is more tuned into that. I also think that they's
attracted to the subject matter of our songwriting because we don't
really have any songs that beat around the bush emotionally. Most of
our stuff is not fancy, but a bit refined and it speaks to more
emotional topics and adult things." Webb goes on, "I feel like it's
music that can be digested by all age groups. We're really
accessible across age groups."
To sum it up, Webb says, "We're generally
never as talented as other people that we perform with, that we
share the stage with, and the only thing we've got going for
ourselves is slightly more energy and overall we're just super
try-hard guys. We're always trying to be the best."
Check out Streetlight Cadence at
www.streetlightcadence.com or on Facebook and Bandcamp.