Specific Ocean
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Specific Ocean

Denver, CO, USA | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Denver, CO, USA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Alternative Indie

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This band has not uploaded any videos

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"Get to know a Denver band: Specific Ocean"

“We all have incredibly different backgrounds regarding our tastes and styles from before we met in jazz school,” Alec Wenzel of Specific Ocean shared with AXS. “This produces a unique sound as our own individual writing gets deconstructed by the group and then rebuilt. Because of this it’s really difficult for me to say that there’s a singular influence or theme.” Last month, the Denver indie rock group released a two-song EP, San Andreas/Strangers, and is currently using the holiday season to write new material. Taking a brief interlude from their winter hibernation, Wenzel was joined by his bandmates for this exclusive interview.

AXS: Are you Denver natives? If not, where is everyone originally from?
Greyson Elkins (vocals, guitar): I grew up in Dripping Springs, Texas.
Camilla Vaitaitis (keys, vocals): I’m from Littleton, so very close by.
Alec Wenzel (guitar): I’m from Barrington, Illinois.
Clayton Vye: I was raised in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

AXS: What brought Specific Ocean together?
Greyson: We all met at school. I was trying to learn how to engineer sound and surrounded by all these cats that could out-play me left and right, and Alec and I, after playing in this class (with Clayton), ran into each other at a bar and he decided we should start a band.

AXS: How long has Specific Ocean been together? What have you learned during that time?
Alec: Specific Ocean has been together for about a year now. What we’ve learned during that time has a lot to do with writing in my opinion. With everyone having a background in jazz and wildly different influences beyond that, there’s a fun process of deconstruction and rebuilding of the music as we all hear things differently.

AXS: Where was your first show in Denver, and what was the experience like? Who else did you play with at the show?
Greyson: I’m just going to go with the one where we got our name. Alec’s old roommate set up an event titled “Specific Ocean album release party” as a joke, but by the time we were about to start there were 90 people chanting that name so it stuck. We played a bunch of small shows last year and ended up preferring the house party scene. They were some of the more rewarding shows to play because there’s no limitation by a venue. You’re very close to your audience which is typically overwhelming in size and it makes it really easy to feed off of that energy. Playing for your peers earns the toughest critique after all - or a more loving critique - it’s hard to tell but it’s important.

AXS: Have any Denver musicians inspired Specific Ocean?
Greyson: Not that I know of.
Alec: Not particularly.

AXS: What inspired Specific Ocean’s 2015 release, San Andreas/Strangers?
Alec: For me it was just sort of about where the sound was going. Being as it’s relatively early on in the band’s career, we’ve been all over the place in terms of genre because of our relatively polarizing influences and these two songs sort of represented where our sound has been going for me. What I love about that is they feel very different and contrast each other in a really nice way but seem to have a consistent underlying feel.

AXS: What was the writing and recording processes like on San Andreas/Strangers?
Greyson: This was all tracked in our basement. We’re running eight channels and using mostly sm57s and knock-off condensers. The tunes were written before we moved into the house though. The duet in Strangers was actually written long before Specific Ocean ever got together, and was actually one of the first demos that Alec, Camilla, and I worked on. The writing process was that romanticized moment when you realize your hometown isn’t your hometown anymore. San Andreas is the newest. Writing it was a totally new adventure, written all at once as a group of five, and I think, reaching that moment as writers was something we wanted to mark. I’ve got to be honest, I’ve been to California maybe once. I’d say that idealized artistic industry and selling-out may have played part in the sentiment, but ultimately the tune started with a pun.

AXS: What projects are Specific Ocean currently working on?
Greyson: We’re writing an EP, getting familiar with the studio (we’ve only had it since June).
Clayton: Yeah mostly writing right now. Trying to find a more cohesive sound.

AXS: What else is Specific Ocean involved in locally, either as individuals or as a group?
Camilla: Clayton, Hudson Knott [drums], and I are all students at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver and we all play in ensembles there. I’m also involved with a funk/soul band called Cold Train and my jazz groups outside of school.
Alec: I’m a high school choir teacher, private guitar instructor, and I work for an after school music program for kids. I’m also in a blues rock group named The Grand Tour and I work on tracks as a studio musician with Greyson.
Greyson: There have been a few other projects in through the studio. We’re working to get these released. Garrett Bundick is a songwriter in Boulder, Colorado. Also we’ve been working on some tracks with Becca Milstien and Abbey Perreault; both students at Brown.

AXS: Does Specific Ocean have a goal in mind for the sound the band produces? Are there certain influences or themes the band tries to inject into its own music?
Alec: Not entirely for me. As I said, we all have incredibly different backgrounds regarding our tastes and styles from before we met in jazz school. This produces a unique sound as our own individual writing gets deconstructed by the group and then rebuilt. Because of this it’s really difficult for me to say that there’s a singular influence or theme.

AXS: For someone who has never seen or heard Specific Ocean, what would you tell them to entice them to watch your set?
Greyson: One thing that I think is a huge draw for us is the live performance itself. Because we all went to music school together and we’ve been playing together for such a long time we have a really tight sound. Because we have such control over our instruments and the music, it allows us to take the music anywhere we want to when playing live. Our interpretation of the music could be incredibly different from night to night meaning the performance is unique to the moment you saw us.

AXS: What would your ideal live show look like? Where would it take place? Any particular time of year? Would a specific band/musician share the bill with or open for Specific Ocean?
Greyson: Ideal? I’ll just give you one dream show - spring break rolls around and the band has an EP so we go to Austin, Texas and play some dive bars for all my old pals and SXSW if we could get good showcase spot.
Alec: A day dream of mine when I was younger was playing one of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads festivals. Here though of course though I would love to eventually be popular enough to play a packed show at Red Rocks.

AXS: What shows are you looking forward to over the next few months? (Either shows Specific Ocean are playing or other musicians/bands that members of the band will go see live.)
Greyson: We’re taking a break from performing during the holidays to hunker down and get some new material.

AXS: What do you enjoy most about Denver’s music scene, and why?
Greyson: This isn’t a scene identified as a city. There’s still subscenes. There’s room to make music that you want to make.
Camilla: I enjoy that there are a ton of opportunities to play different kinds of music and all the musicians in the scene support each other. It’s a healthy scene. - AXS


"Specific Ocean Releases New Music"

Colorado indie rockers Specific Ocean have released two new singles. The uptempo “San Andreas” shines with the gentle croon of Greyson Elkins and a flowing jazz-funk influence. “Strangers” emanates a contemporary cabaret vibe, poignantly layered instrumentals giving way to sweet harmonies midway through. Stream and purchase the tracks below!

Specific Ocean consists of Greyson Elkins, Camilla Vaitaitis, Clayton Vye, Alec Wenzel, and Hudson Knott. The five-piece met while studying at University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music and put out their debut release, Ride / Over and Over, in June. Visit their website to keep up with forthcoming projects. - The Permanent Rain Press


"The Northern Empty plays high-energy album release show"

On Thursday, Jan. 14, the Lost Lake Lounge filled with fans waiting in a swell of anticipation for DU band The Northern Empty’s album release show. The Clarion was lucky enough to attend the show and have a chat with The Northern Empty’s Nick Anderson.

The Query, a cello and guitar/ukulele duo, was the first opener of the night. Though the audience was small at this point in the show, The Query appeared to be perfectly content, playing a selection of folk-pop originals. The Query was an apt selection to get a small groove going before the bigger acts performed.

Next up was DU band Specific Ocean. To say that this band blew it out of the water wouldn’t be doing Specific Ocean justice; the five-piece comprised of Greyson Elkins (vocals and guitar), Hudson Knott (bass), Camilla Vaitaitis (vocals and keys), Clayton Vye (drums) and Alec Wenzel (guitar) has a stage presence that suggests years of performance experience, even though the band just began releasing material last year. Indie rock can be jaded, but Specific Ocean keeps it fresh with a solid background in jazz and a clear dedication to the craft.

After Specific Ocean, folk-influenced The Northern Empty hit the stage. Made up of Nick Anderson (vocals and guitar), Raven Underwood (violin), Brendan Schuster (keys), Erik Fellenstein (mandolin) and Cooper Leith (drummer), the quintet is wildly popular amongst the DU crowd. The hype for this band is well founded; it’s sometimes hard to find college bands that are talented writers, fantastic performers and humble musicians, but The Northern Empty has all of this and more. The band’s debut album, “Suzie,” was released to positive reception and success; the album peaked at the 25th spot on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts.

“That was pretty insane,” said Anderson about the album release. “None of us expected it. It was the night before we left for tour. We were up until 2 a.m. packing, and I looked at the charts just for kicks like ‘I wish we were up there,’ and we were.”

After the success of the release and a tour away from home, the band was ready to play for a crowd of enthusiastic friends and fans. Taking the stage amidst exuberant cheers, The Northern Empty was all smiles as they launched into the set, stopping every few songs to repeatedly thank the crowd and express genuine gratitude. The band played popular songs off the album such as “Off the Floor” and “Suzie.”

“That was our first sold out show,” Anderson said. “I never thought I would be playing a show where my friends and kids I didn’t know were singing the lyrics. To look out and see complete strangers mouthing our words, it was unreal.”

Each of the members were obviously well-trained in their respective instruments, and played them with passionate fervor. The sweet slide of Underwood’s violin blended effortlessly with Anderson’s smooth and wonderful voice, while Fellenstein strummed with ardent zeal on his mandolin. The audience could tell that the band was just as excited to be there as they were.

Perhaps one of the highlights of the night was when the band ended with a cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya,” a choice that may have seemed questionable for a folk-pop band but, in the end, paid off.

“That came together the rehearsal before the show. We were thinking of doing a ‘Superstition’ cover, but we didn’t have the time to do Stevie Wonder justice,” explained Anderson. “We loved it, and we loved playing it. We’re actually going to go record it, and release it as a single on Spotify and iTunes, just for fun.”

The Northern Empty will be recording new music in the near future and will also be opening for Magic Giant at the Larimer Lounge on March 13. Keep updated with The Northern Empty via the band’s Facebook page. - The Clarion


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy