L.A. is full of brand-new bands formed by fresh-faced musicians with lofty dreams of breaking big. And arguably here more than anywhere else, the ever-tantalizing tease of “making it” can seem within one’s reach like a spectacularly tasty carrot on a tall stick.
Here, you can regularly play iconic venues and rub shoulders with the rich and famous. The region offers a rare accessibility, and that’s very attractive. Yet many of those same bands and artists are destined to remain on square one, languishing for a while, before splitting, the members perhaps moving on to other projects.
So when a band comes along and manages to ink a deal with a major label pretty much from the get-go, that’s deserving of some attention. In this case, the group goes by the name outsideOUTSIDE — a male/female duo consisting of, respectively, Kali and Tali. They don’t use second names. It’s all very intriguing.
The project started a little less than a year ago, an experiment that took off much faster than the pair could have imagined.
“We stuck with it, and a few important people heard it,” Kali says. “We had confidence that we had created a fusion that was something we’d been trying to do for a while. Something we thought people needed to hear, and we just ran with it.”
Tali describes the sound as a mix of urban music, rap and emo. Kali adds hard rock and pop to that music soup. To our ears, “electro-pop” is certainly the overwhelming vibe.
“We’d like to think that there’s not even an actual genre to put on it,” he says. “We experiment with our sound a lot, and what we write about is a lot darker and a little bit more open than what normal pop music would be. Our goal is for every kid in the world to hear this music. ‘Vulnerable’ is a keyword.”
Despite the fact that they’ve existed for less than a year, Kali believes that their sound has already evolved and developed, practically beyond recognition.
“Especially in the sense that we have songs that are completed and aren’t gonna come out for maybe a year from now, and they sound completely different than the EP we’re about to release,” he says. “So we definitely developed a lot of areas — like a trajectory for the sound. It’s very dynamic. There’s a lot that goes into it. There’s screaming, rapping, hip-hop–associated beats, drops that you’d associate with EDM songs. A lot of stuff going on. Our brains are all over the place.”
Whatever they’re doing, it’s working — they scored a deal with Warner Bros. pretty much before they had a chance to play their first show. That’s almost unheard of.
“It happened very quickly, and that was a very big part in this project catching fire and starting to grow,” Tali says. “Everything just fell into line very quickly. The right people heard it at the right time and decided to support it, and brought us to Warner.”
“They have a joint venture with Mind of a Genius and we work a lot with them too,” Kali adds. “We could tell that the key people at both of those companies were not just excited about what we were doing but actually really saw what it was and believed in it. That was a seamless connection for us.”
Of course, the value of being on a major label has been questioned in the modern era, when bands can do everything themselves thanks to social media marketing, streaming releases, etc. Kali says Warner Music have helped them though.
“It’s almost like we’ve been given the extra hand that we needed to get what we create out to the people who need to hear it,” he says. “We know how to write our songs and we know the way we want it to sound, and thankfully they don’t tell us to change any of that. We’re very thankful for that.”
outsideOUTSIDE are preparing to release an EP in the coming months, and they’ll follow that with the debut album later in the year. It’s early days but things are going swimmingly, and they hope that the forthcoming output will help bridge the gap between what they perceive to be Los Angeles’ very distinctive urban and emo scenes.
“This emo form of music is coming back in the form of hip-hop,” Kali says. “Bands that would have been a Blink-182–esque three-piece pop-punk band 10 years ago are now rappers. It’s this new thing, and it’s cool to see that style and what we grew up on coming back in a modern way, and in a way that I think is more accessible. It’s exciting to be part of that.”
This week, outsideOUTSIDE play at the Viper Room, and Tali says we should expect the unexpected. Kali offers more detail.
“Expect an energy and a fusion that you haven’t heard before,” he says. “We’re not going to be playing the one song that you could call a single that we’ve put out so far, just because it doesn’t quite match the energy of the show we’re trying to put on. We’re a very high-energy live band. Most of our songs were written to be played live. Definitely expect something high-energy and in your face.”
outsideOUTSIDE play at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24, at the Viper Room.