Ryan Merchant of Capital Cities Talks Live Show Experience, Inspirations, and 2017 Album

Capital Cities has been on a perpetual crescendo from the beginning.  With the assortment of musicians trying to break into the industry and in a genre as admired as indie-pop, they are a true testament to the combination of bold talent, thoughtful songwriting and a little bit of serendipity.

When the band’s duo Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian first met via Craigslist in 2010, they knew something felt right.

“Well it was kind of like going on a date with a girl,” a laughing Merchant told Golden 1 Center.com.  “Where you just sit down with somebody and sometimes the conversation flows really well and other times it doesn’t, and you’re like ‘Well I’m never going to see that person again’ or you’re like ‘Wow I really wanna go on another date.’ So it’s like that but in a musical context. It was just a very instantaneous musical chemistry.”

Since their formation, stunning visuals, creative concepts and dance-centric themes have become a staple of Capital Cities’ music videos. After taking home a Moonman from the MTV Video Music Awards for Best Visuals in their single “Safe and Sound”, it became clear that Capital Cities had a knack for entertaining in all senses. 

“We want to leave everybody feeling very euphoric, like they’ve just gone through some sort of experience,” Merchant said.  “The whole point is to take people out of their everyday life and give them something a little bit larger than life. I hope they get that sense.”

Merchant is quick to acknowledge his personal inspirations – without which, performances by Capital Cities probably wouldn’t be the same.

“I think dance is one of the most compelling art forms, maybe even more than music at times,” Merchant said. “But all that stuff gets me excited – visual arts, design, all of it.”

Musically however, Merchant’s long-time love for eighties music (the King of Pop in particular) has given him motivation to create more than just your “run of the mill” sound. He reflects on a meaningful moment in his musical career, when he reached out to late British songwriter Rod Temperton who produced such Michael Jackson hits as “Rock With You,” “Thriller” and “Off The Wall”.

“I reached out to him just sort of saying I’d like to get together with him and pick his brain and possibly work with him at some point,” Merchant explained. “And he ended up coming up to Paris and had dinner with us. It was symbolic in the sense that this was a guy that was a hero of mine, his music is so influential, but also very interesting to humanize someone you held up on a pedestal.

“I got a glimpse into the fact that we all have it in us to write amazing songs,” he added. “I just came away from it feeling like ‘okay if I work my (butt) off I can write great songs as well.’”

With a great deal of experience now under their belt, Capital Cities has just pushed out their latest single “Vowels” and will release a brand new album in the first quarter of 2017. It’s been three years since the band’s debut album, “Tidal Wave of Mystery” – three years of fans patiently waiting for more.

“Over the past couple years we’ve become more experienced, and know what the components are that really give us our signature,” Merchant said.

Much like their first, he reveals that the new album will be a collection of fun, dance songs, with a mixture of eclectic elements. Fans can look forward to possible artist collaborations as well.

“We’re probably going to have a hip-hop artist contribute, and hopefully get some interesting female vocalists to sing on it.”

Merchant and the rest of Capital Cities will be in our very own capital city this week. Joined by The Naked and Famous, Glass Animals, Milky Chance, and Warpaint, they’ll be performing at Radio 94.7’s Electric Christmas, which takes place at Golden 1 Center on Thursday, December 8.

About the Author