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Old Kids trying to change perception of pop music

Gaby Velasquez
Old Kids are looking to distinguish themselves from other bands through an intelligent and complicated pop sound.

Local band Old Kids is well stocked with classically trained musicians whom appear to fear nothing since they expect nothing. Since their slow and sporadic beginning in 2013, to their first humble performance in 2015, Old Kids have remained loyal not only to their music, but to the creative process as well. They are in it for music’s sake and musical enlightenment.

Old Kids consists of Sofia Quesada on vocals, Michael Martinez on keyboard and vocals, Stephen Pugh on bass and Joaquin Aragon on drums. Martinez and Quesada are both UTEP graduates with bachelor’s degrees in music, while Pugh studied sound engineering in Arizona, and Aragon is a coveted musician, who is also part of three other bands.

They categorize their music as pop; smart, coherent and well-arranged pop. “We’ve proven that pop music doesn’t have to be dumb,” Pugh said. “Pop music can be intelligent and complicated.”

To drift away from the common misconception of pop music as simple and often unpleasant, Old Kids centered their focus on creating clean and attractive melodies. Martinez said that the sound the band was initially trying to emulate was that of The Beatles and Animal Collective.

It was their desire not to be like bands, whose  main  sounds  focus  on  the  tapping of the drums and the strumming of a guitar.

“We wanted a very vocal, a very melodic sounding band,” Martinez said. “Melody is very important to us.”

In the early stages of the band, Quesada was diagnosed with nodes on her vocal cords, which impeded her to even rehearse. This setback allowed the band to rehash the songs so that they would fit Martinez’s voice. Fortunately, Quesada recovered and the process of relearning every song provided a most significant understanding of everyone’s roles.

“We’re all intimately aware of what everyone else’s role is,” Pugh said. “That is as important as knowing your role so that you can complement what they are contributing appropriately.”

This kinship that Old Kids have achieved can be attributed to the long period of time that passed between first introducing the idea of becoming a band and their first performance. However, that can also be blamed on their perfectionist attitude toward music.

Their first outing was at a house party they hosted for close friends and relatives, who they trusted for honest input.

With the blessing of their friends and family, Old Kids proceeded to perform at local venues such as The Pizza Joint and the Lowbrow Palace.

They’ve had their fair shares of successful and rough performances. One of them being the Battle of the Bands at the Lowbrow Palace, where they didn’t reach the final stage of the competition.

“We must accept that we aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, people don’t see us the way we see us and that’s okay,” Quesada said. “It was a really valuable lesson for us; A: to get over ourselves and B: to just be okay with playing what we love to play.”

Old Kids have had performances where they have attracted curious listeners and where members of the audience remember songs that they used to play in their early gigs.

The brevity of the loss at Battle of the Bands reflects the priorities of Old Kids. After all, not only are they experienced and well educated in music, but they are also passionate about it. Music to them is a different plane of existence and the thing that turns time elastic.

Old Kids is a well-prepared bunch that is not in search of the cheap thrills that often come with being in a band. They are serious about their approach to music. Every rehearsal is a step that betters each song and brushes the melody.

As Pugh said, Old Kids is a throwback to the idea of well-composed and intelligent music.

“We’re never going to be the most popular band and we’re not trying to be the most popular band. We’re trying to be the most musical band,” he said.

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Gaby Velasquez, Photo editor
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Old Kids trying to change perception of pop music