You’re browsing through your favorite local record store, scouring for a collection of fresh tunes to listen to on your daily pilgrimage to and from school or work. The prizes of your quest will be songs that satisfy your gnawing hunger for creative stimulation and emotional intensity.
Everything feels cheap and hackneyed, lacking the true expressiveness and artistry you long for. Frustrated and disheartened, you overlook rows of records categorized under labels such as country, jazz and hip-hop. Passing alternative rock, heavy metal and classical, nothing peaks your interest.
Suddenly – right when you were considering turning your back on the hunt and letting your robotically programmed Discover Weekly playlist shape your musical consumption – something catches your attention. Standing all on it’s own, void of the confines of labels and context, is “Vada Vada.”
The nonsensical genre was coined by 23-year-old twin brothers Fletcher and Wyatt Shears of The Garden to describe the music they make (it’s also the title of a berserk 20-second song by the band, sung in perfect gibberish).
Yearning for a world in which music exists as nothing more than sounds to be heard, “Vada Vada” is the ultimate anti-genre. With no suggested connotations of audience, politics or purpose, their almost exclusively drum, bass and synthesizer compositions are free to be both moody and whimsical.
Natives of Orange, CA, The Garden’s songs are filled with personality that shines through in the quirks of their playing – whether it be via Fletcher’s ridiculously fast, tight drumming or Wyatt’s rambunctious, distorted bass.
Their wild playing style can be accredited to their roots in punk rock, the genre in which, at about age 12, they originally began writing music together. The belligerence of punk mixed with loose, zippy rock, orchestral synth, and some ambient dissonance blend magnificently to create the alluring, idiosyncratic sound of their songs.
The Garden’s lyrics are generally somewhat vague and psychotic. Opening the track ‘I Guess We’ll Never Know’ off of their most recent full-length studio record, 2015’s ‘haha,’ are the cryptic words “Lies are made by stories which we think of when we sleep / Sleep is caused by magic / Universe is what I seek.”
Even when the Shears aren’t reciting verses laden with such exalted diction, their more simplistic, repetitive lyrics are so captivatingly so that it’s difficult not to take the words to heart. From ‘This Could Build Us a Home’ of the same album: “I’ve gotta beat time / I’ve gotta beat time / We’re running out of time / We’re running out of time.”
The identical Scorpio brothers both have individual side projects, Fletcher’s being deemed ‘Puzzle’ and Wyatt’s ‘Enjoy.’ The Shears say that, in a way, the more lush, synth-driven music put out under those aliases are more rewarding than releases by The Garden.
“We’ve yet to do an album that’s like ‘I just want to keep listening over and over again,’ which is what I like to do with my side project, and I know he does as well with his,” Wyatt Shears said, indicating his brother Fletcher.
“Even if we make something we love we’re always kind of ready and on to the next thing, and trying to make something even better,” his brother, Fletcher, added. “The Garden is a much more progressive project than the other two are.” This concept of persistent movement forward is what inspired the band’s name, which they selected to reflect the ever-changing, ever-growing nature of life, and thus, music.
As for The Garden’s upcoming album, it will sound quite different from the rest of their discography. “It’s definitely much more aggressive,” Wyatt said. For those following the recent release of its singles, including ‘Call This # Now’ and ‘Play Your Cards Right’, the rest of the album will come with some surprises. According to Fletcher, “It’s got a much different vibe” than those songs. “It’s the same backbone. It sounds like us, just different.”
This information is nothing to deter their faithful listeners from tuning in. Quite on the contrary, it’s an exciting opportunity to see just how capable of versatility and evolution The Garden twins are in the fields of ornate musicality, ardent live performance, and radical, authentic self expression through art.
– Lorenzo Alexander
Strolling down State Street in Santa Barbara, one will come to find a local club called Velvet Jones. This club is almost out of place in a city crowded with wealthy citizens and tourists, but nonetheless draws a crowd when bands come to play a show. The interior of the club has a second story above the bar, which is lined with beautiful red leather and brass studs fastening the arm rests to the bar area.
Surrounding the room are black walls bearing murals of famous musicians like Johnny Cash, along with posters of upcoming bands.Although the pit area is relatively small, crazed fans push, shove and mosh their way to glory. All that keeps the wild animals at bay is a 5-foot wooden wall in front of the stage. Plenty of people take advantage of the low stage to stage dive.
Velvet Jones also holds the appeal of being a smaller club, therefore a much more personal gig. Go to a big “rock ‘n’ roll” concert to see a band from several decades ago, and you’re seated in the very back of the stadium, only to witness the tiny, plastic, soldier-esque band work through their set. At Velvet Jones, you can experience the sweat, blood and energy being poured into the performance.
With unparalleled energy, and a style like no other, The Garden blew away the audience. If you didn’t know this band at all, you were still enticed by the crazy drumming and frantic bass playing. This two man band surprisingly brings quite a bit of power to the stage only using bass, drums and an electronic drum pad, providing an experience that’s hard to forget.
– Zach Castro