The cold season is upon us, making us wish to be transported to the sunny beaches and relaxed vibes of summer. While we may not be able to actually leave Storrs, CT, LA-based band Bay Ledges’ new EP, “In Waves,” can certainly take us to a sunnier, more nostalgic time and place through its chill guitar riffs, cool electronic beats and charming lyrics.
Led by songwriter and producer Zach Hurd, a former New Yorker now living in Los Angeles, Bay Ledges has been a concept for three years and is now beginning to gain major traction. The birth of Bay Ledges was “really sort of a passion project,” Hurd said. “I had been doing a solo project before Bay Ledges and I realized I wasn’t having as much fun playing music. Being an artist, you have to book your shows and make sure you’re promoting and everything. I had been doing that for a while and was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m really having a good time doing this anymore.’ So I just started messing around with some songs when I moved out here (to LA) on Ableton, some software that a friend had given me. I would post stuff on Soundcloud and it started gaining more traction that way. People liked the songs.”
Hurd began collaborating with his sister, Georgia, who provides backup vocals for many of Hurd’s tracks. “Both of my sisters live here (in LA). One of my sisters, Georgia, she lived down the street [from me] so I would just have her come over and sing some stuff. Then she would leave and I would chop up her vocals and play around with it. That was really what Bay Ledges was for a while, just me,” Hurd said.
Hurd himself has been fascinated with music since middle school. “When I was young I used to draw a lot. I was really into art. It was just kind of this thing that I would do privately. I would put my headphones on and listen to Jimi Hendrix and Oasis. I would just put that stuff on, zone out and draw,” Hurd said. “I was kind of always into music. I got a guitar in middle school and stopped drawing and started playing. One of my best friend’s older brother was in a band and he would teach us stuff on the guitar. It was so cool to play a Nirvana song; I think the first song I learned was ‘Come as You Are,’ the beginning riff to that song. Once I did that I was like, ‘Wow, I want to keep doing this for sure.’”
Hurd first met mainstream success with Bay Ledges through the release of the single “Safe,” which made it to number three on Spotify’s U.S. & Global Viral charts. From there, Hurd signed with S-Curve. With the rise in popularity came an interest in doing a US tour, which just wrapped up on Nov. 17. “When I started (Bay Ledges), I didn’t know how I would ever do it live. I was just gonna see what I could make. It’s definitely been a learning experience to try to bring these songs to the stage,” Hurd said. For live shows, Hurd would bring on drummers, bass players and other instrumentalists but he has always been the “the main constant of the project.”
“There were so many fun (shows),” Hurd recalled about the tour. “Probably the New York show for me was the most amazing, because we played at Bowery Ballroom. I used to live in New York so that was the place I would go to see bands and I had never played there before. It was just amazing to play there. I’d say that one and Boston, because in Boston I had a bunch of college friends who came who had never seen Bay Ledges.”
“In Waves,” the newest project from Bay Ledges, was released on Friday, Nov. 30. The EP has an air of sunny nostalgia that feels fitting of LA. “The point of the whole project was that I wanted to feel the way I felt when I was a kid making music. You’re not really caring about what other people think, or if what you’re making is good or bad; you’re just creating. That was always at the center of making the songs, to be like, ‘I’m just going to have fun,’” Hurd explained about “In Waves.”
“For a long time I’ve just loved music that sounds older, even artists now that are putting out music that sound affected and wobbly; like the idea of a song sounding like something you would hear on a VHS cassette tape. I’m definitely always looking for ways to sound a little bit more in that world and also to make it sound a little more personal,” Hurd said.
“In Waves” features many collaborations from producers like Miro Mackie, Christian Medice and Jackson Greenberg. This was a new process for Hurd, as most of his old work was done on his own.
“I think (things change) when you work with other people. When I’m working by myself I’m not really thinking intentionally or in literal terms about what I’m trying to do or what I want it to sound like. To work with other people is interesting because people can’t read your mind. I knew I liked those (VHS cassette tape) sounds in my head but I never thought about trying to convey that to a producer, and thinking about ways that we can accomplish that (together). I guess it made me have to be more clear about what I wanted,” Hurd said.
Bay Ledges gets stronger and more comfortable in its own unique sound with each project, and “In Waves” epitomizes this. As Hurd said, “I just hope (my music) makes people feel good and takes them somewhere emotionally, whether it’s that nostalgic feeling for a time or place where it feels good to be.” “In Waves” does just this, transforming even the coldest of days into ones filled with sunshine and bliss.
Lucie Turkel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.