Zach Yudin tried to get away with just sampling summer sounds. But what started as a casual graze of classic surf records quickly turned into a full buffet of brightly hued, sunny groove tunes united under the Cayucas name. Fronted by Yudin, the SoCal band play thick cuts of vintage sunshine practically made to skewer and slow roast -- more sweet than savory, more tender than chewy. But whatever your flavor, Cayucas is sure to indulge a musical barbecue at the Casbah on Tuesday, July 22.
The group’s 2013 debut LP, “Bigfoot,” is the pinnacle of easy listening. It’s best consumed in the background, letting the honeydew beats bathe you in good vibes as Yudin’s lyrics, widely nostalgic for what he identifies as poignant moments in his youth, prickle your own golden memories. Here, he doesn’t break pace with the mellow once as he speaks on his new material, the fake Hanson fan club he started in middle school, the high school years that never left him, and more.
Hannah Lott-Schwartz: Cayucas started as a solo project -- how has it grown?
Zach Yudin: It was songs that I had written, and once the album was recorded -- I recorded the album on my own, me and my brother [Ben] recorded it -- after that, we put a band together.
Music. Community. Culture.
HLS: So then going forward, as far as songwriting, is that going to still be mostly on you?
ZY: I think it will continue to just be mostly me.
HLS: Is that something you've already started working on -- another record?
ZY: Yeah. Yeah, me and my brother have been writing songs. I think basically since January we've been recording song ideas and stuff.
HLS: Are you starting to see a theme or narrative develop at all?
ZY: Mmhmm. Yeah.
HLS: Is there anything you can share as far as that goes?
ZY: Well, I think, I'm not really sure what will happen at the end, ya know? Hard to say. Themes are along the same line, maybe a little bit more mature, a little bit more in detail on this album and less summery nostalgia, more -- just something a little different.
HLS: And how did that come about? A distinct move on your part of just a natural progression in your music making?
ZY: Yeah, I think it was just a natural progression. I guess after writing the first album, I was feeling a little tapped, and I was really clueless as to another album. But I think as long as you continue to just jot down ideas or making yourself write, you feel sort of -- after a while, you start start coming up with song ideas and stuff, and sort of a theme and things like that. But I think as long as you're writing daily or continue to write, things will sort of progress.
HLS: You used to be more interested in writing hip-hop lyrics. And then there was this sort of transformation at some point, and you've landed on this really, as you said, kind of nostalgic sound. So, I was wondering, where did all the rap go?
ZY: [Laughs] In high school I had turntables. I was wanting to be a DJ. But in college, I think I was mostly focused on making electronic dance songs. So, I think -- I don't know -- it'd be nice to bring the hip-hop back into things at some point.
HLS: A Macklemore collaboration or something.
ZY: Exactly. Exactly what I was thinking.
HLS: You said "Bigfoot" is kind of like summery nostalgia, and I'd say that it is in both sound and content. How did you come to revisit that period in your life, the younger years?
ZY: Yeah, well, I think what ended up happening was I was writing some songs, and I was sampling some old vintage sounds in the very beginning, and once I started making these little tracks, I was thinking about what sort of things to sing about, and then sort of felt like I wanted to sing about high school, and being sort of summery. I just had the summery vibe, so I went down that path.
HLS: Does high school still continue to influence you significantly?
ZY: Yeah, because for me, like looking back on childhood, teenage years, into college, it's kind of crazy how certain moments are so poignant. And they're just ingrained in your memory. So I just find that stuff interesting, sort of to write about. But high school was fun for me. I wasn't like anything special, just a standard guy who played soccer and golf, and I was in the radio club.
HLS: Do any of those memories come to mind specifically?
ZY: Well, I mean, that’s sort of what the songs are about. Like "High School Lover." There was a girl -- technically it was junior high -- but we had this pretend fan club for the boy-band Hanson. And I'm not sure how it started. She was sending me letters from the fan club -- they were fake letters that she was sending to Hanson that were going to my address. At the end of every letter, they said call this number or something. This was a girl that I knew -- she played bass, and we hung out a lot for like a month straight. She was sending me all these letters, and at the end of summer she came up to me and she's like, "Did you get all the letters that I sent?" And for some reason I said, "No." So I thought that was kind of weird. I'm not really sure why I was avoiding her.
Hannah Lott-Schwartz, a San Diego native, recently moved back to the area after working the magazine-publishing scene in Boston. Now she’s straight trolling SD for all the music she missed while away. Want to help? Hit her up with just about anything at all over on Twitter, where -- though not always work-appropriate -- she means well.