It seems to be a consistent fact that, when siblings are in a band together, turbulence is inevitable. Think Oasis, the Black Crowes and the Kinks to name just three. In the case of L.A. indie project the Deep West, the dissolution of previous group the New Limb (featuring one Ella Vos) pushed brothers Adam and Joey Chavez into doing something brand new together.
“Essentially, we started this band around 2018, and it was in the wake of the dissolution of a previous band,” says Joey. “That one was tough on us. I think it took a while to get ourselves together, because actually in the previous band we hadn’t really written that much together. So it was pretty much us trying to learn how to work together in a new way, as well as how to produce what we wanted to make. So it was just hundreds of hours of complete and total frustration, slamming our heads against a wall, and finally we came up with an EP. It was kind of miraculous, honestly. There were many times when I didn’t think we were gonna finish anything.”
The Deep West’s sound is a mixture of modern influences – indie, pop and some electronica. They blend it and make it their own by incorporating guitar and even some banjo where you least expect it. Having been making music together since they were kids in the garage, the band and its music come together organically.
“Traditionally our roles were that I was writing songs and then Adam was figuring out the engineering / production side,” says Joey. “It took him over a decade to meticulously put his studio together. He’s always been really great at the technical side of things. I come from the songwriting, singing and performing side. Obviously, he’s always been performing too. But now, with this new project, it’s a big collaboration on all fronts.”
“I would sing and play drums in our previous band, and then I was in charge of having a studio and recording everybody,” adds Adam. “Essentially, spearheading a lot of the production elements, paired with directing music videos and all of that stuff. Since then, I had been writing and producing other artists on the side the entire time, so it was a matter of, alright, we both speak the same language in regard to music and writing. Now, let’s actually try to do that together and prove to ourselves that we can do this just the two of us, without anybody else in the mix.”
So that’s what they did and, ultimately, it’s all worked out. But again, there are challenges associated with being in a band with a sibling.
“I think in the first few years of doing this project we were just both in a really bad place in a lot of ways,” says Joey. “So there was a lot of older brother / younger brother stuff going on, to where we would just fight, session after session. The sessions would break down with us pissed off, completely frustrated. Luckily, that got better. Maybe it’s because we genuinely care about each other, so we tried to get better at that. That was one thing we definitely had to get past. We still have arguments and everything. I think it’s easier to argue when you’re a family. If we weren’t brothers and we didn’t have that tie, I don’t think we would have released anything at all.”
But they did. The debut EP is called California Flowers, a collection of songs that benefit from the fact that the brothers were able to knuckle down together and work on their own terms, once they’d quit scrapping.
“We really went as intentional as we could with the whole production,” says Adam. “Because we were able to minimize the number of people involved with it, we were able to actually zero in on what we wanted. Not have as many people to please during the whole process. That means that, ‘oh we’re gonna record this thing, mix it, master it, how we want it.’ We were able to get things done, get things moving, precisely how we needed to.”
The name of the EP and the band are metaphors for their relationship with their home state, the only place they’ve ever lived.
“California being a natural desert and also a land of opportunity, and our band being called the Deep West with California in the west, that’s where we’re from – all these things stacked up into, we’re sons of California,” says Adam. “We’re these flowers trying to create some sort of beauty in the world while also, the metaphor for the dissolution of our previous project, coming out of that and being reborn. Trying to create something new and beautiful.”
A number of the songs on the EP, appropriately enough for Valentine’s Day, are about romantic relationships – specifically “Prayer” and “Wildfire.” Other songs cover the human relationships we all regularly experience.
“Relationships in general, definitely,” says Adam. “Who are we other than the people that we are when we’re reacting to situations and life? Relationships are the most significant thing and I think that’s also reflected in our work ethic when it comes to the two of us being brothers and trying to respect each other in our own relationships.”
“‘Wildfire’ is about sex, but connected sex,” adds Joey. “When you have a relationship and that extra layer of intimacy. ‘Prayer’ is actually a song that I wrote to propose to my wife.”
Having recently moved to a new house, Joey says that he’ll be spending Valentine’s Day doing home improvement projects. Adam has more ambitious ideas.
“I’ll probably be doing a hot air balloon ride, flower petals and champagne with a charcuterie board.”
As for the rest of 2021, with California Flowers now out, the brothers have some plans to stay busy.
“We’re currently working with a small group of guys on trying to string together some sort of COVID-friendly, animated music video with a storyline, which will prevent people from having to shoot in person, put them at risk, while also being able to put out content that’s appealing to people,” says Adam.
“Our hopes are that it’ll be really fun and weird at the same time, and we’re lucky to have a cool network of creatives,” adds Joey. “They’re really good at what they do. So far, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at the quality of it. Hopefully something live soon – that would be cool.”