Silly videos and memes, colorful artwork and visualizers, and an overall enlightened life perspective are three attributes that fans might associate with indie-pop duo Coast Modern. When we sat down to chat with Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp, we were relieved to find that such descriptors match the band’s real-life persona completely.
Initially entering the music world as pop songwriters in the rat race for Top 40 hits, the guys gradually discovered that they were meant for something more. As they broke away from the norm and embraced the truest (and weirdest) form of their personal identities, Coast Modern was born. To no one’s surprise, the Coast Modern sound was met with high praise from music blogs, radio, and loyal fans. Today, Atlas and Trapp hold true to the core philosophies that launched their careers in music: let go, be yourself (because you are magic), and never take yourself (or life) too seriously.
Get your dose of wisdom as Coast Modern dishes on life lessons, their upcoming tour and album, and artists to watch in our exclusive Q&A.
OTW: I read that you guys started off as pop songwriters, took a little break, then came back together? Tell us about how you came to discover your path.
Coast Modern (Luke): It’s a long journey! Yeah I moved to LA–to start at the very beginning–to get into that songwriting world and right away a mutual friend introduced me to Coleman. We were just playing each other beats that we had done and vibed out.
Coast Modern (Coleman): We did a lot of pop songwriting at that time, but also we were just having fun exploring sonic territory and making weird beats and songs. But there was a point where I had been working at music for so long and got frustrated, so I needed a break. I moved to Denver for a while, and when I came back, there was interest from a label, and Luke and I had so much new energy that all these songs kind of just exploded.
OTW: Nice! And you just knew it was right?
Coast Modern (Luke): Yeah.
It felt like the right time to do our own thing for the first time instead of stuff for other people, be a little selfish, be a little weird.
OTW: Do you remember the first moment you knew that music was your calling?
Coast Modern (Luke): I don’t think there was a moment. I think it was just like, this is what I’m doing and what I’m good at.
Coast Modern (Coleman): It was just so much fun. I had such a blast learning the software and trying to create something that would excite my friends. And when something becomes a passion, it just takes a part of your life. And it has now taken my whole life.
Coast Modern (Luke): Now you don’t need other people to make a whole track.
It’s kind of addicting–you can just layer things up, and it’s just like magic. So you get hooked on that feeling of creating something.
OTW: Your first singe was “Hollow Life”–would you say that that encompasses your real life experiences in L.A.?
Coast Modern (Coleman): Yeah that’s a piece of it. “Hollow Life” is a much bigger story. We’re way into philosophy…
OTW: It’s about to get deep… [laughter]
Coast Modern (Coleman): Oh it always is. “Hollow Life” is a small story about somebody who’s over it and wants to run away with someone that he’s into. But when we were writing it, we were just connecting to this very primal feeling of like wanting something more.
Coast Modern (Luke): There is an aspect of L.A. that can be shallow if you wade into those waters, so we were just consciously steering ourselves away from that. That’s part of doing our own thing is going into some deeper waters.
OTW: What advice would you give other young musicians who are wading the waters of this treacherous L.A. world?
Coast Modern (Coleman): It has to stay fun.
Coast Modern (Luke): Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Don’t compare yourself to whoever.
Because music is like trends and goes in circles, and as soon as you try to catch up to one thing, it’s going to be gone. So you might as well find your thing, even if it’s weird and uncomfortable.
Coast Modern (Coleman): The scene is not the music industry. There’s plenty of amazing people in the music industry that aren’t obsessed with a scene.
OTW: Totally. So how would you describe “your thing”? I know you guys have a super comical exterior on social media, but then there’s also a deeper meaning to the songs.
Coast Modern (Luke): That is just our personality.
Coast Modern (Coleman): Also the comedy and lightheartedness is sending the message that you can’t take life too seriously. It’s already hard enough–don’t make it harder on yourself.
Sometimes we go out of our way to embarrass ourselves too, because it’s so freeing.
Coast Modern (Luke): If you’re not trying to be cool or pretending to be something you’re not, then it’s very freeing. We’re basically weird dads, dad jokes. Lots of bad puns. It’s just endless punishment.
OTW: [Laughs] Oh man, that’s great. Your artwork is also very cool and unique–how did it come about?
Coast Modern (Luke): We’ve never actually met the artist, but we found her on Tumblr. She lives in Argentina now and um yeah her name is Dai Ruiz–she is super cool.
Coast Modern (Coleman): She’s a part of the team. She’s done like nine covers for us for songs that aren’t even out. We just love her bold colors, bold shapes, and strong symbolism. That’s what we were looking for, and she nailed it.
OTW: Nice. So how does Coast Modern translate to a live setting?
Coast Modern (Luke): We have a live band. It’s very alive and rockin’. Bass and drums–it just brings a whole new energy to the songs.
OTW: So from the perspective of someone standing in the audience, can you give us a little visual of what we would see?
Coast Modern (Luke): Just Coleman’s face, really big on a Jumbotron. [laughs]
Coast Modern (Coleman): So yeah, I sing and play guitar. Luke is always rocking the electric. He’s been shredding. The guitar god, Luke Atlas. And he sings as well. And then we have our bass player, and our drummer Steph–she’s a monster. She’s a huge part of the show.
OTW: Awesome. How is the audience reacting?
Coast Modern (Luke): It’s been a surprise to me like people in places somewhere like New York where people are like, “Oh, people don’t dance,” but every time we’ve been there it’s been popping off.
OTW: What are you guys most excited for on this
Coast Modern (Luke): We’re hitting some new places.
OTW: Any particular towns you’re stoked for?
Coast Modern (Coleman): Charlotte. We love the Carolinas, because we knew nothing about them, so it was the biggest surprise. But our first tour was with BØRNS last year, and we stopped by this ramen joint, and we were like this is the best ramen we’ve ever had. It’s legendary now.
We were amazed that we ended up there three times in one year, on various tours, like a city we’ve never been to, a ramen joint we’ve never been to, and all of a sudden we’re there for a third time in one year. So on this tour you better believe we’re getting some ramen. It’s a thing now.
Coast Modern (Luke): We’re big foodies. But also about Charlotte–that was the first place like we got recognized in public. We were in a Target, and someone was like, “Are you in Coast Modern?” He was like, “This is weird,” and we were like, “Yeah it is…” [laughter]
OTW: Random question – if you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?
Coast Modern (Luke): That’s a good one. I think Prince would have to be one of them and I’d ask, “How do you stay so funky, and so deep?” He goes all the places.
OTW: Everywhere. All the feels.
Coast Modern (Coleman): Rasputin. He duped the entire Russian royal family. And then they tried to kill him, and they had to do like three different things before he actually died. Like they poisoned him, then shot him, then threw him in a river. A freezing river. It’s just crazy, like who are you?
Coast Modern (Luke): That’s a good table look.
OTW: So we’ve got Rasputin, Prince, and you guys. Anyone else we could add in the mix?
Coast Modern (Luke): Socrates.
Coast Modern (Coleman): I like that. He stood for something.
You know what he stood for? He stood for standing for something.
OTW: Oh, that’s deep. Who are your favorite philosophers in general?
Coast Modern (Luke): I like Alan Watts. I guess he’s in that category.
Coast Modern (Coleman): Terrance McKenna is a trip. He’s got some wild things.
OTW: Are there certain lessons that you’ve learned from them that you want to pass on to our readers?
Coast Modern (Coleman): Yeah, tons.
Let go. Just let go.
OTW: It’s the most simple ones that are the truest.
Coast Modern (Luke): The ability to zoom out and see that it’s all kind of silly, like everything. Perspective. That’s what helps us to not take everything and ourselves so seriously. Have a lighthearted presence and humor.
OTW: Cool. So what’s up next on your to do list after the tour?
Coast Modern (Luke): Well the day the tour ends our album will be out. Last show, album out.
OTW: Good timing! Anything else you can share about it?
Coast Modern (Coleman): Get ready.
Coast Modern (Luke): It’ll be a wild ride. And sorry, it’s going to get a little weird. Little personality nuggets.
OTW: In your ideal scenario, how would a fan feel as they listen to it?
Coast Modern (Luke):
I mean I think they would be like screaming and dancing, then like thinking about stuff, and then crying.
OTW: Oh wow, all of the things.
Coast Modern (Luke): But ideally like in a shared space, like on a shag carpet when they’re listening on vinyl with candles. Like on the floor.
OTW: Oh, so super ‘70s. Like all holding hands too?
Coast Modern (Luke): Sure, if they want.
Coast Modern (Coleman): Yeah, swaying. What a vision. What song would we want them to peak?
OTW: Yeah, you’ve got to time it right.
Coast Modern (Coleman): Let’s say it all kicks in right when they hit play. Right, they time it so it’s kicking in right when they hit play. So at what point are they like, “Ahhh!!!”
Coast Modern (Luke): I think the whole thing. It’s like a 45 minute scream.
OTW: Amazing. I
can’t wait. So who are your top Ones To Watch artist right now?
Coast Modern (Coleman): Have you heard of a band called Dessert? They have a song called “Eyes Wide Shut” that kind of blew my mind. Who else…Soft Hair? But they don’t need help. LA Priest and Conan Mockasin are Soft Hair.
OTW: Good stuff. Lastly, anything you want to shout out to the fans?
Coast Modern (Coleman):
We want our fans to remember that they’re magic.