Photo Credit: Vincent Po
Nostalgia is something I’m quite known for and it’s the one thing that can turn a stranger into my best friend in an instant. Capturing onto a singular nugget from the past that we both connect to; magical moments. This is why there was no hesitation between me listening to corner club and instantaneously becoming a fan. The pair that originally met out east packed up and are now on the Golden Coast making music that touches on the past while lamenting in the present. We talked about the move, the music, and more including how parental figures felt being a creative muse. All of that and then some as we dig into corner club and their latest release, ‘in the rearview mirror.’
Kendra: I’m the type of person who’ll meet someone at a party, befriend them online, and just stay friends with them that way for decades. You two, however, there was obviously a greater connection because you wound up becoming neighbors in New York City and forming corner club. Other than music, what about that initial meeting at the party made you think, this is the one? This is THAT friend I’ve been looking for?
Mike: You can communicate a lot via eye contact, and I think in that moment we both recognized what we had in common — being introverts who people watch, people who like going to parties but don’t like being in the center of the room. That particular party was hosted by an acapella group we were both in, and Sav had just joined.
It was ironic because I actually missed her audition, so the first time I got to hear her sing in rehearsal, I was completely caught off guard by how incredible her voice was. As we got to know each other better, we ended up becoming close friends and collaborators in the group, and it was fortunate that our circumstances also lined up after college such that we had the opportunity to be in the same city and try making music together.
Kendra: What made you want to pack up and take your lives across the country from New York City to San Francisco, and not like Los Angeles? What about Northern California spoke to you?
Sav: We were a bit burnt out from the city and looking for something new. I love the liveliness of New York City, but it can be exhausting after so many years living in really frantic neighborhoods working the jobs that we did. Mike and I both grew up on the East Coast and wanted to try living on the other coast while we’re young and our lives are more flexible.
I’m a huge fan of nature and hiking (trying to hike all the national parks) and Mike has family and friends on the West Coast, so it felt like a good time to up and go. Most of our friends in California live in the Bay Area, and my parents used to live here as well, so that combination of factors led us here.
Kendra: Speaking of the move, ‘in the rearview mirror’ was recorded during this move. With that, and knowing that corner club loves a cinematic tone, what road trip movie do you think your sophomore EP would’ve been a great soundtrack for, and why?
Mike: I’d love to say something fun like ‘Joy Ride,’ but it would honestly be most fitting for something like ‘Nomadland.’ The EP’s just so nostalgic and reflective that it feels like the kind of thing someone might listen to on a solo journey like the one Frances McDormand’s character takes. She’s also grieving throughout the movie, which is another major theme of the EP.
While our move was under very different circumstances from what is going on in the movie, we referred to the travel we did in between as “nomading” because it was the first time neither of us had a clear “home,” so that parallel feels relatable as well.
Kendra: And while the present is everything and the future can be daunting, I’d like to talk about the past. Not only because that helped push songs like “funny colors” but because in listening to your 2021 debut and comparing it to your 2023 release, I noticed that you kept that dreamlike, ethereal feel but with songs like “whenever you’re ready,” it felt like you two were uncovering a new layer of corner club. Was that one of those songs you wrote and thought, well, this is…different?
Mike: For sure. We always throw lines jokingly back and forth, but the petty vibes really struck a chord on “whenever you’re ready.” Our sense of humor can be a little juvenile when we’re together, which is why the song opens with such silly ill wishes.
But as the words get more and more personal, you start to realize that these wishes become petty beyond belief. Can you imagine being so vindictive that you hope your ex finds someone so perfect that it makes THEM feel insecure? We had to bring that idea to life, and when we played around with different ways to sing it, we knew it had to be a lot more in-your-face and aggressive than anything else we’d put out before.
Kendra: Do you think you’ll be exploring more of those alt-rock vibes moving forward?
Mike: It’s hard to say because we’re always exploring, and there are many instances where we imagine a song sounding a certain way, only to discover a different direction during the production process. That said, I think we’d both love to explore more rock sounds because we had a ton of fun recording the song and making the music video with this one. Even though we’ve been making music for a while, it feels like we’re still growing and learning new things every day, and it’s exciting to feel like we don’t even know what’s next for us.
Kendra: Going back to “funny colors,” it’s such a great song and as someone who is known for her love of nostalgia, it hit hard because while my family still lives there – it’s not mine anymore, you know? I’m in a guest bed surrounded by things bought long after I was gone. As you’ve gotten older, and with a few moves to your names – has the idea of what home is shifted for you?
Sav: Definitely — anecdotally, I feel like people talk about home as the place where your loved ones are, or home as the place where you feel most comfortable. I resonate with both of those, and as a fellow lover of nostalgia, I think there’s something so special about familiarity, whether that’s taking an extended trip and starting to recognize the corner store around the block from your street, or visiting family in a room that’s no longer yours but your mom still brings your favorite fruit in a little bowl in the mornings.
When Mike and I moved from NYC, my roommate stayed in our apartment and another friend from college moved into my old room. It’s an interesting feeling going back to visit and finding the layout so familiar — our framed graduation picture is still on the shelf — but when I peek into my old room, the decor is completely different. I left my bean bag there and it’s still in the same spot, but there’s a TV now where my piano used to be. It still is home to me in some ways due to all the precious memories I’ve had there, but there’s also no ignoring the fact that people and places change and move on.
Kendra: I also would loathe myself if I didn’t mention “when i die” because darn you two! I was at work watching the video and just crying. This is such a beautiful concept, recording your loved ones over several months and piecing it together. Plus, the song is just – it was meant for an iconic movie scene, and I believe it’ll be used one day; manifesting it. With that, do you have a song you’ve often thought about playing when it’s all said and done?
Sav: It’s hard to choose just one! “end credits” is one of my favorites by Sarah Kang. It’s such a poetic and cinematic metaphor for the end of life and I’ve teared up every time I hear it live. “For Sondra” by Passion Pit is a really different one that also has cinematic elements to it. There’s something about the movement and slow build to this song that’s really cathartic and visual at the same time. I like the idea of slowing things down for a final hurrah — there’s an exhibit / sound theater / sound sculpture in San Francisco called Audium that’s essentially a dark room with 176 speakers (literal surround sound, coming from the ceiling and walls and ground), and I visited for an hour-long performance that was essentially painting soundscapes of the various parts of the city. That would be a nice ending scene too.
Kendra: Also, Sav, how did your mom react when she first heard something she said in “when i die?”
Sav: She heard this song for the first time when she was visiting us in San Francisco and we were practicing for a show before the song was released. I told her that the first line was inspired by something she said and recounted the exact moment she said it, and her initial reaction was actually “I didn’t say that first … your grandpa did!” so it’s funny because I guess the sentiment, and lack of swimming proficiency, runs strong in the family. Regardless, she loves the song and calls me occasionally to give me updates on how many YouTube views we have on the music video.
Kendra: Time for a side note – with it being November = a month we give thanks, I’m asking everyone this…what is one album you’re grateful for, an album that inspired you to do what you’re currently doing right now as an artist?
Mike: Dijon’s “Absolutely Truly” inspired me to think differently about the process of creation and capturing emotion in a production. The performances are so perfectly imperfect, resulting in something that feels raw and intimate in a way that feels rare to hear today. It just feels like you’re in the room with him and his friends jamming out when you listen to his music. Obviously, everyone in that room is a superb musician, so being able to do that is something to aspire to in the first place, but experiencing that helped me recenter and refocus on what I love about making music and what I want to get out of the songs we make together.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘in the rearview mirror’ out now, what can we expect as we finish out 2023 and head into 2024?
Mike: In terms of the rest of 2023, we’ve got a performance coming up at the SF Coffee Festival on November 12th, and we’re very excited to drop new merch with our first-ever t-shirts. We’re always writing and have a backlog of ideas, so we’ve been diving headfirst into new material and discussing what next year might look like. We’re really happy and proud of all the releases and shows we did this year, and we’re inspired to bring that energy into 2024.