When Garden Echo, who SoundDiego hailed as one of the most promising local bands of 2016, abruptly broke up early last year, fans were left scratching their heads. For a group that seemed poised for huge things both here and abroad, we were all left wondering: What the heck happened?
“Garden Echo disbanded over creative and personal differences and we needed a break,” co-singer/multi-instrumentalist Sara Swanson told SoundDiego recently. Luckily though, all was not lost. In mid-2017, she and fellow Garden Echo guitarist/bassist, Andrew Moberly, reconvened for a new project.
“We still had a similar vision and absolutely love writing together so we just transitioned into Naïvetè,” Swanson said.
The duo (who pulled their band name from the writings of French philosopher Paul Ricoeur) holed up in Swanson’s garage and Moberly’s apartment last summer to write, record and produce their debut, the appropriately titled “EP I” (self-released on Friday, Oct. 13). According to Swanson, the six-song album represented an evolution from previous work.
“It was a really isolated process and no one else was involved in it besides the two of us,” she said. “I would write and track something alone in my garage and send them to Andrew or he would write something and send it to me to finish. It was necessary for me to evolve that way as a writer and vocalist because this is my first project carrying those roles and it was a whole new experience for me. Andrew did the production and mixing and we both shared writing responsibility, as far as instruments go; we would switch around a lot and play different things, which was fun.”
While Naïvetè’s scope hovers around its predecessor’s style, it also wanders into slightly different aural territories with more of an electro-oriented chill-wave lean: “[Our] sound is a little more experimental and expansive than Garden Echo’s was,” Swanson explained. “I think there’s a little more of an ’80s influence and more pop sensibilities.”
The two musicians also crafted the EP without any thought of recreating the songs in a live realm -- an aspect they’re currently addressing in advance of their upcoming three-show Soda Bar January residency.
“We decided early on that we would just not even think about how we would have to translate it live and just write and record as freely as possibly, trying new ideas and sounds,” Swanson said.
“Performing the material live definitely forced us to shift gears from the recording environment. It’s definitely been interesting, not necessarily because of our sound, but just figuring out how to play as a two-piece and have it be as compelling as possible. The challenge has been fun though for sure and we’ll be working out a lot of things and most likely adjusting as the shows go on.”
The Tuesday-night residency (Jan. 9, 16 and 30), curated by both Soda Bar talent buyer/co-owner Cory Stier and Naïvetè, represents their very first live performances, something that Swanson admitted they’re looking forward to.
“[It’s] a little intimidating to be headlining our own line of shows as our debut, but we have always loved Soda Bar, and it’s such a big part of my own musical history, so it seemed like a fitting start for Naïvetè. It’ll be nice to introduce more people to the project and to share the stage with some really awesome local bands.”
Naïvetè perform at Soda Bar on Jan. 9 (with PK Boy, Love Glow and 9 Theory), Jan. 16 (with Battery Point, O/X, and Heir Gloom) and Jan. 30 (with Dani Bell & the Tarantist, Oak Palace and New Me).