If any and all eyes reading the following could do me a favor, check out ‘Castaway’ from Tashaki Miyaki July 2nd. Not only because it’s something to look forward to this summer, but also because this lovely California band delivers dreamscapes across delicate pop plains driven by Doo-wop influences that run deep. From their title track, “Castaway” and beyond, it’s a listening experience you won’t soon forget because the record promises to be one played on repeat.
We talked to their own Paige Stark about the music, the idea of being stuck, their scene, and more below…
Kendra: When I read the band drew inspiration from Doo-wop, I was instantly taken back to high school and being up late when those CD collection infomercials came on. That was sort of my big introduction to the genre, but what was yours? What drew you towards that timeless sound?
Paige: Omg I loved those late-night infomercials. Do they still exist? As a child, I definitely had an 80’s compilation from one of those and it was excellent.
I grew up in Southern California and my mom only listened to four things: 1. The Beatles, 2. Elvis, 3. Instrumental Christmas Music and 4. KRTH 101 which was the local oldies radio station. So whenever we were in the car one of those four things was on, and usually, it was K EARTH 101. There was lots of DooWoop on there-The Flamingos, The Drifters, The Platters. I was drawn to the harmonies, I have always loved harmony. And I love orchestral arrangements.
When I was little I didn’t know that wasn’t the music of the day. I had very little exposure to contemporary music. When I got into high school I was in the women’s choir and sang in a female barbershop quartet. We would sing telegrams of whatever song in barbershop style…which is essentially Doo-wop. and I would also sing with some girls I knew from my voice teacher. We would do Andrews Sisters’ covers. I also loved all the 60’s girl groups, especially the Shangri-Las. I have always been drawn to old things and old music is a part of it.
Kendra: A few years ago you dropped your debut, ‘The Dream,’ as a duo. How do you feel the band’s overall sound has evolved since becoming a trio and with ‘Castaway?
Paige: We weren’t really a duo when we recorded ‘The Dream.’ Dora, our former bass player was in the band and played on most of that record. We met Sandi shortly before we released ‘The Dream’ and she was down to be a permanent member and so she played all the shows for that release. We were only a duo for a small time in the very beginning of the band starting. I much prefer to have a bass player. It adds so much to the live show. And as far as the records, I think the sound has had a natural evolution.
We get lumped into categories I don’t think we belong in. We are a guitar-based rock band. And our music has a lot of influences. Too many to list them all. We all like such varied music, and our sonic evolution is a result of making new discoveries in the studio and also just what we are each into at the time. We also apply things we learned listening to records or talking to other musicians and wanted to try, or maybe we are experimenting with a piece of gear that we acquired.
When we started it was very simple…drums, guitar, and my vocal…maybe one other element. Now I am adding lots of elements…strings, horns, piano, percussion…everything is more nuanced. I’m attempting to do the same things in my songwriting….giving things both more nuance and specificity, but I like to keep things still sounding like there’s space.
Kendra: So the mood for ‘Castaway’ could not be any more fitting to the past year or so – stuck – because that’s how probably 99% of us have felt in these sort of ‘Groundhog Day’ loops. With that, what aspect of one’s existence do you feel is the most daunting to be stuck in? A bad relationship, stalled career, etc.
Paige: When we are talking about life and defining something as being stuck, I believe that “stuck” is not an ideal space. I believe in flow and movement. I believe that all “bad” things (like bad jobs, bad relationships, etc) are all equally harmful and can create negative after-effects if not remedied. Allowing things to continue which aren’t working for us can erode self-worth. I learned this from experience and it isn’t a fun lesson.
In my experience, having stuck periods of career or bad relationships can bring forward positive lessons and experiences, but I am personally done with bad relationships, jobs, and all that. It seems there’s a paradigm shift where people are learning the old ideas of suffering for things isn’t necessary…you can do what you love and build a life out of it. And it can be something people didn’t think possible. A lot of people knock YouTubers and various Tik Tok creators…I think they are amazing. I am in awe of people who are being fully themselves and have created a sustainable, creative life around that.
I remember on ‘Sex and the City’ there was a thing like the trio was relationship, career, apartment and without one it’s hard to appreciate the other two. I relate to that…feeling stuck in any aspect of life affects the other parts and it sucks. I have had moments where one thing was going great and the other thing was suffering and it doesn’t feel as good. I have felt stuck in my career for a long time. Music is a hard field and there’s a lot of gatekeepers and luck at play. It’s beyond my control, and I’m trying to learn to surrender to that and accept things as they come and though I have yet to master this mentality, moving towards it has helped me to feel better and relax a bit.
Kendra: Listening to “Castaway” I immediately pictured California in the ‘70s. Having not been alive during that time, my mind actually envisioned ‘My Girl 2’ because that was the time and place it was set. Do you feel like any places in LA still have that sort of laid back, but oh so hip vibe the ‘70s were known for?
Paige: I have not seen ‘My Girl 2.’ So I can’t reference that…But omg original ‘My Girl’ remains one of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen.
LA has changed a lot in recent years. It’s become a lot more expensive and a lot of the cool, weird art spaces, shops, and things are gone. We lost a lot during 2020 because of the pandemic. The Chateau Marmont was a place that had that kind of old LA feeling. It was mysterious and strange and haunted, but not scary. Old but still fancy and very laid back in a way. I have a lot of memories there. That is over…it’s now a private club or something.
There used to be a space on Hillhurst called Tangier that was fairly magic. It was a restaurant and a venue. They had lots of legendary shows there. People would sit on the floor and you never knew who was going to play and everyone was very quiet and respectful. I saw Gillian Welch and David Rawlings play there and it was amazing. Jonathan Wilson played on a bill with Ramblin Jack Elliot…stuff like that. It definitely felt like a special time. That space is now a Starbucks.
Kendra: Speaking of Los Angeles, a city so known for its live entertainment, the past year has been a nightmare. The last concert I went to was in December 2019, so I know that the first time I walk back into a venue – I am going to cry. For you though, as performers, getting back on stage is something I feel will be even more emotional. Do you think you’re going to be overwhelmed when you can start touring again?
Paige: I went to a show the night before lockdown. It was our friends, a folk duo called Mapache. It was right by our bandmate’s house at Taix which isn’t really a music venue. I was wearing a bandana over my face and no one was wearing masks then…it was super crowded and I was so freaked out, I left early. I am not sure how I will feel once things are happening again. I think once people are widely vaccinated I will feel better, and less emotional. I miss performing, but I also have enjoyed having a break. I miss our sweet fans but I have enjoyed making videos and being in the studio and not feeling like I have to do anything else.
Kendra: It’s getting a little easier with the vaccine rollouts, but it’s still kind of hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
Paige: We are taking things as they come. We are scheduling some live recorded performances that will live online…not totally different from pre-pandemic times, and we have a couple more videos coming out. We shall see what else comes our way once live music is a thing again. People are starting to announce tours and things, so who knows.