Music lovers of Pasadena were entertained with an intimate event put on by Sofar Sounds this past Thursday at One Colorado, with a set that consisted of three artists kept secret from the audience until that very night.
The event was one of the 27 secret shows Sofar has hosted throughout September, a tradition that began in London in 2009 and was brought to Los Angeles in 2011. According to LA Director Robin Westlund, Sofar Sounds has about 271 locations worldwide, and counting.
The way a Sofar secret show works is that people sign up for tickets online without knowing where they are going until the day before or who they are seeing until the day of the event. This creates a genuine and spontaneous atmosphere for music enthusiasts looking for an evening of good music in a close, intimate setting.
The reason for Sofar’s secret shows, according to Westlund, is to get away from the fuss made over headliners and to put more focus on the music itself.
This show was started off with Sebastian Kole. The 27 year-old singer, songwriter and musician was all smiles as he performed and talked with the audience throughout his set. He spoke words of love and wisdom, encouraged the audience to make a difference in the world with an original song about peace, and related with them with a song about failed relationships.
Kole’s lifelong career of making music began in the churches of his home-state Alabama. He was signed as a songwriter by EP Entertainment in 2013, and has since been writing for other artists and himself. Some of his most recent work includes Alessia’s Cara’s latest album ‘Know-It-All.’
For Kole, being a musician “is kind of like being best friends with everybody you meet, because you have to tell them your whole story and hope they’re okay with it,” he said in an interview. “It’s a lot of fun, you make a lot of friends.”
He describes his story as the classic ‘Beverly Hillbilly’ tale, in which he packed up the life that he had in Alabama and drove out to California to make music.
For Kole, musical inspiration can come from just about anything.
“There’s a song in everything,” Kole said in an interview. “Anywhere I see life, I try my best to kind of take a picture of it in song.”
Kole currently has an EP out, a show booked on Sept. 25 for a ‘Women Against Gun Violence’ event in LA, and a new album called ‘Soup’ coming out Oct. 7.
A duo named Jim and Sam performed after Kole, with no sound equipment at all, relying on their voices and guitar alone to connect with their audience as they stood within the crowd.
Jim Hamnft, 32, from Philadelphia, and Sam Yonack, 32, from Dallas, have been a duo for the past seven years.
Reluctant to place themselves into a genre, they describe their sound as musical and spontaneous, with lots of harmonizing, listening, and reacting to one another.
The inspiration for their music comes from their favorite artists, such as Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, Fiona Apple, and Joni Mitchell, along with the life experiences that they each face.
The duo has been performing for Sofar for the past four or five years, forming a relationship that began in London and has since branched out to performing in places such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
“It’s a really amazing thing what they have; the kind of community and the loyal fanbase that they have, because they do such a good job curating these events…” Hamnft said in an interview. “I hope it’s forever, because it’s good for us and future musicians.”
They currently have an album out on Spotify, are finishing another album, and are getting ready to tour the Midwest this November.
The last, but certainly not the least, to perform was the band Welfair, a group that had their entire audience up on their feet dancing and singing along to their music throughout their set.
The group consists of Danielle Espinoza, 23, as the lead singer; Machill, 22, on guitar, bass, and laptop; and Miles Melendrez, 23, on keys.
Though Welfair has been performing for the past four years, these three have only been playing together for about a year and half, as different band members have come and gone.
The trio has such a unique sound, r&b mixed with electronic, that they had to come up with a music genre of their own, called ‘future soul.’
“We came up with ‘future soul’ as a genre because my vocals are very soulful and I look up to a lot of soul singers and I love soul music, but the sounds are very digital and electronic and sort of new-age,” Espinoza said in an interview.
Espinoza, the songwriter of the group, gets her inspiration from life and the different things she’s had to go through.
“I write songs to get through life experiences. Every time I sing them it’s kind of life doing a therapy session,” Espinoza said.
Welfair currently has one track up on Spotify and are working hard to record and get more music out soon. They will be performing at LA’s ‘Juice Fest’ in February 2017.
Sofar Sounds will continue to have secret shows throughout the rest of September, and hopes to have at least a show a night in the upcoming month of October.
Tickets for more secret gigs are available at https://sofarsounds.com/la