If you wanted to talk about the best music cities in the country, you’d naturally find yourself mentioning Seattle at some point. Though the rainy town’s major impact on the music industry is now almost thirty years old, Seattle continues to make a huge contribution to the music world.
If you wanted to talk about the best music cities in the country, you’d naturally find yourself mentioning Seattle at some point. Though the rainy town’s major impact on the music industry is now almost thirty years old, Seattle continues to make a huge contribution to the music world. While no longer independent, Sub Pop is still a badge of honor for the city; recent signings like Fleet Foxes and Richmond favorites The Head And The Heart have made their name nationally after finding success early in the Seattle scene. Like those bands and many more before them, Iska Dhaaf is garnering a lot of hype from the area and starting to see it translate on a national stage. The duo has forged a new take on the post-punk sound that’s infectious, remarkably versatile, and actually, not so surprising when you look at where the two members came from.
While Iska is fairly new, its members are no strangers to the local crowd. Benjamin Verdoes is well known for founding the beloved indie rock group Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band and Nathan Quiroga might be better known as Buffalo Madonna, one of the notable performers in the infamous hipster-hop group Mad Rad. Because of their memorable backgrounds and Iska Dhaaf’s original sound, it’s easy to see how the band’s quickly garnered a strong following, even if the band themselves don’t put much stock into the hype.
“I try and stay away from the hype machine,” Quiroga divulged. “Hyped bands tend to come up quick and fall down fast. And what I think we’re doing is building very steadily, and in a way where we’re not compromising ourselves. Everything is feeling natural. We’re going to be happier this way.” Despite not being sold on the hype, positive reactions to the band’s debut last year could be found everywhere, and the band rode that success into a recent SXSW showcase, even if it was squeezed into a packed schedule. “We flew into Seattle, played Portland, then San Francisco, and then drove 26 hours straight to SXSW,” said Quiroga. “We played that, filmed some music videos, hung out, and then came back to New York. It was hectic, but it was a great opportunity. I’d never been, though Benjamin had, and there was just a lot going on even though I stayed on the outskirts of it.”
Currently, the duo is working on their follow-up to their 2014 debut record, Even The Sun Will Burn, a follow-up that Quiroga describes as “completely different” as the duo continues to grow as songwriters. Whereas the first record was recorded with instruments and in a live-to-tape setting, the new material is veering in a new direction. “We created a lot of the beats on Ableton,” explained Quiroga. “We had a more electronic production and texture behind it, but we did still write a lot of the songs with guitars and drums. It’s a blend of the two really.”
On their last record, Quiroga admittedly was learning to play guitar and keyboards as they recorded, a process he described as “painstaking” due to the incredible amount of takes and rehearsals. This time around though, Quiroga’s much more comfortable with his instruments, proclaiming “I knocked out all of my guitar [parts] on one day this time!” His growing talent has led to a different style as well. “I definitely think I’ve gotten a lot better, but I also feel like I can play less. Less is more on this new record, really.” In fact, it seems the band is looking to expand and explore the space within each song, something Quiroga is very excited to do.
Their follow-up is “three-quarters of the way finished” and the band is aiming at an early 2016 release, but that hasn’t stopped them from revisiting last year’s material either. The music videos the band shot right after South By Southwest will be for album tracks “Dependency” and “Same Indifference,” two videos they’re very excited for. Just as their big music video “Everybody Knows” last year had a surprise cameo by Seattle native Macklemore, these videos will have a cameo as well, though it may be bigger one for the band than the fans. “My father is in one of the videos,” Quiroga gushed, “and I’m really happy he decided to be in it because he’s quite the character. He did a great job so I’m really excited for people to take a look at it and see him in action.”
With the two music videos on the way and countless tours for the rest of 2015, you’d think the band has enough on their plate, but instead, Iska Dhaaf seem to be ramping up for an even bigger 2016. “After all the touring, we’re going to start creating the music videos for the new record which I’m really excited for,” Quiroga stated. “I really can’t wait to get these new songs out and I’m just excited to be writing more. Ben and I are already working on other projects and it’s just great to keep creating stuff, moving forward.”
The band rolls through Richmond this Saturday, April 4th at Strange Matter, opening a stacked show with Kind Of Like Spitting, The City On Film, and Lee Corey Oswald. While Iska Dhaaf may not be so rowdy as to get banned from Strange Matter like Quiroga’s former band Mad Rad were in Seattle, the duo will undoubtedly stand out with their unique sound, make their hometown proud, and be yet another band you can say you saw back when they played Strange Matter. Tickets for the show are $10 in advance, $13 on the day of the show, and can be ordered online here: https://kols.eventbrite.com/ For more info, click here: https://www.facebook.com/events/416095045215883/