Last year was a busy year for Houston's Children of Pop. So busy, in fact, that the act never had time to host an official release party for its latest album, Fiesta/Drift, which was voted one of Rocks Off's top local albums of 2013.
But that's all about to change when Children of Pop hosts the official Fiesta/Drift Tape Release Pizza Party tonight at Houston House of Creeps. So it seemed there was no better time to sit down and find out more about this local act that has been making waves on a national scale.
Of course, getting to know Children of Pop means checking expectations at the door. Though the act can be considered a "band," it's actually the brainchild and persona of one Houston local who prefers to remain nameless in the press. When asked why, his answer is simple enough.
"Children of Pop is the pen name I came up with for this whole art project," he says. "You see, one day when I'm 50 I'm going to play jazz guitar for a living under my real name. And the Internet is powerful. Sometimes it's healthy to sit back and ask if it's really a great idea to be tied together through Google for everything you do."
To some, it might seem silly. But then again, people probably said the same thing about Daft Punk, and those guys won four Grammys this year. (Though you won't find Children of Pop performing in gold-plated helmets anytime soon.)
Founded in 2010, Children of Pop -- we'll call them COP from here on out -- began his trek under the persona after graduating from with a Bachelors in Music, including honors in Music Theory.
"I owe it to my friend Marshall Graves for starting Children of Pop," he says. "He said I needed to record an album on my own, so I took a catalog of resources and what I was able to accomplish aesthetically and started focusing my energy towards a goal."
With the help of friends, COP was able to release "Charge," which led to his signing to Lefse Records (home of Neon Indian and How to Dress Well) and the guidance of Banter Media Management, who also advises Youth Lagoon and Blouse.
"I was on cloud nine," COP says. "But the Internet is power. Here today, gone tomorrow."
Still, despite the music industry's ups and downs, Fiesta/Drift found a way to be released at exactly the right time. Featuring airy vocal harmonies over grooving bass, dreamy guitar parts and just enough electronica to make you dance, it was "70 percent completed while in Brazil for two weeks," he says. The rest was finished in The Heights, featuring input from Jordan Brady, Thomas Mumford, Devin Caldwell, Marshal Graves and Austin Garrison, though the lineup changes according to COP's needs.
"I brought a bunch of recording equipment to Brazil with me with the notion I would see the light and finish the album," he says. "When I got there I ended up surfing, exploring the rainforest and hanging with my friends. Brazil feels really good, and the trip gave me a bit of perspective. I really feel like my life became engaging around the same time I began writing for this project, which was the same time I got married and graduated from college."
According to COP, his father and his wife are his biggest inspirations, while he remains "fueled by a pursuit of a conscious life" while trying to focus his awareness on the now, and "maintain a coming of age mentality with everything I do." He sees his music as functioning two different ways.
"The social/external songs are the Fiesta (party) side, and the more internal/esoteric songs on the Drift (dream) side," says COP. "Plus, I value how that works on the tape: one side is up, the other down."
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Though he's built his own startup label, #veryjazzed, COP releases his cassette tapes in limited-edition waves through Chill Mega Chill. Despite the lack of big-label support, though, his music found its way into publications like Stereogum, Impose Magazine and Brooklyn Vegan, opening the door to COP's national audience.
Note to bands: it's not always recommended, but a national headlining tour is definitely a good excuse for hosting a late album-release party in your hometown.
Perhaps doing things differently is what works so well for Children of Pop, who describes the act as "a nice combination of noise-guitar solos and straight-up pop vocal melodies."
"For better or worse, Houston and indie/rap is a pretty comfortable combo," he says. "I try to distance my self from these things with Children of Pop, because Houston is diverse, and the artists we push to the national front should reflect that" he said.
"But we've toured more than we have played in Houston, and most of the bands we play with on tour twist knobs and refrain from wielding things like guitars or acoustic drum sets," he adds. "Generally, I've noticed that bands on the East Coast tend to use smaller gear than bands here in the South."
Whatever their secret is, COP has been confirmed for three festivals this year, including VOV Festival in Arkansas, a co-headlining slot at San Marcos' MR Fest and Houston's own Free Press Summer Fest, where COP is hoping Jack White will bring over his wire fiddle for a few songs.
Currently, he's working with Brandon Lemons on a 7" release through Treaty Oak Collective with support from Chill Mega Chill, which should be released just before FPSF. That sounds like a lot on one plate, but COP assures us that it's all a part of the job.
"I'm a full-time musician, teaching and playing on nights and weekends, while I write and record during the week," he says. "I'm active in Marry Me, Deep Cuts and B.E. Godfrey, but Children of Pop is my jam. I wear the target, and I hold the trophy."
Children of Pop's cassette-release pizza party is 9 p.m. tonight at Houston House of Creeps, 807 William St. Guests include Cool Piss, Austin's Gentlemen Rogues and Dead Space, and Hollywood Black.
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