Los Angeles folk rock trio Distant Cousins have just released the “Here & Now” single, the title track to the live album due out on June 26. We chatted with the “cousins” about it all…
L.A. WEEKLY: When and how did the band get together?
COUSIN DOV: Well…we’re literally cousins in the way that Kozak, Swirsky and Rosenblatt would be. And in the way that we are ALL distant cousins [originally we thought about just using our last names for our band name, but we feared people might confuse us for a law firm].
The three of us were connected for years through the small niche world of modern Jewish music; our bands overlapped and played shows together. In 2013, we found ourselves all living in L.A. — five minutes away from each other — so we got together for our first writing session as a trio and that was it. We haven’t stopped working together since!
Describe your sound…
COUSIN DUVID: Between the three of us our musical taste is varied. We disagree about everything from politics to how much reverb to throw on a vocal and still, somehow, the creative process is usually effortless. As a result our music often ends up sounding like a mix of styles which keeps things interesting for us and hopefully the listeners. Probably our most natural place is with acoustic instruments in our hands, singing harmonies in a small room.
Tell us about “Here and Now” — what is the song about?
COUSIN AMI: We wrote “Here and Now” with Lindsey Ray, who we’ve admired for a long time as an artist and singer/songwriter. The song is about appreciating what is right in front of you. Cherishing every moment, maintaining perspective, and recognizing that life is fragile, and you can’t take anything for granted. It’s about being humble, and grateful. What’s incredible and a bit eerie about “Here and Now” is that it was written just two weeks prior to the coronavirus pandemic that put the whole world on pause. So the message of the song couldn’t be more fitting to the times we are in. All we have is here and now.
How have you been coping with the lockdown? How are you staying busy?
COUSIN AMI: Each of us have little ones at home (eight kids between the three of us, with one on the way any day…) so our first priority has been to keep our kids safe, happy and busy so they don’t drive each other — or us — crazy! When we do get our windows of free time, we’ve actually found new ways to innovate, stay creative and adapt so we can stay connected even while apart. One example is our songwriting workshop “‘Cousins in the Classroom.” We developed this program about a year ago where we would visit schools around the country and work with their students to write and record a song in one hour. When the pandemic hit, with all the schools closed and students stuck at home, we adapted and made the whole workshop virtual via Zoom. We hit the ground running, and now we’re literally writing a song a day with students from around the world, connecting in ways that we never thought were possible. The whole process has been inspiring and rewarding.
What do you have planned for after the lockdown is lifted?
COUSIN DUVID: We can’t wait to get back to playing for people. Nothing can replace the high of playing, singing and sweating in a room full of friends. We are always working on new creative projects. We’re getting deeper into our music during these long quarantine days and are looking forward to connecting with as many souls as we can.