On the northeast cusp of downtown Austin sits a small, uniform neighborhood. Mini-vans are parked in the driveways, lawns are evenly cut and the houses are painted colors like “Taupe” and ”Sienna.” Although the neighborhood seems like an isolated suburbia, soft buzzing from a quaint one-story home interrupts the still October air. Walking closer to the house, the noise grows into muffled techno frenzy, hinting at the band behind its walls. The aesthetic of the neighborhood gives no suggestion that this residence belongs to local Austin band Holiday Mountain.
By Samantha Jogenia Grasso
Holiday Mountain made their first move into the Austin music scene in the fall of 2012. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, the band consists of Laura Patino on synthesizer, organ and vocals, Bradley Will on synthesizer and bass and Zander Kagle on drums. While the members’ taste in music stretches from Bob Marley to samba music to Queen, the three come together to form unconventional electronica music with underlying jazz and Jamaican rhythms. “It took us a while to find our sound but we’ve definitely found it. A lot of bands take a lot longer to find their sound, or sometimes they never do,” Kagle says.
Through their music, the band aims to promote pro-freakiness, the movement of energy in a creative, physical way and the celebration of differences that society deems “weird.” Kagle says the band’s philosophy of “anti-shame” draws from each member’s experiences with their respective upbringing. “We’ve all felt shame in our lives over something and we just hate that. We want our music and our shows to be a place where people can feel open and to be themselves. That’s where dancing comes in,” Kagle says. Patino adds that the band wants to promote a sense of community, because when people feel that they do not fit in they isolate themselves and do not connect with others. “To take those feelings of [not belonging] and just sharing them in a space in a celebratory way like, ‘I’m f***ing weird and that’s a good thing!’ and just the physicalness of dance is a really helpful thing to people,” Patino says.
The present membership of the band first formed back in Boston in the spring of 2011 after Patino and Kagle met at a basement show earlier in the year. Will and Patino knew each other through mutual friends at the Berklee School of Music, and Will joined the band shortly after in September. Patino says that she played with different ensembles before playing with Kagle and Will, but didn’t have anyone who expressed interest in forming a serious band. “Putting together and finding the right chemistry can be pretty hard. Those relationships are hard to come by, but this is the first band where I’ve felt everything’s in the right place. It’s a beautiful thing when it happens,” Will says.
Patino says that while many musicians would leave Boston to go to New York or Los Angeles, the band had heard a lot about Austin and the band’s visit in January of 2012 pushed the members to move to the city. “We just so happened to be there for Free Week, which we weren’t aware of, but we were like, ‘What? Austin is amazing!’ Every second was this crazy adventure that just led us around,” Patino says.
In August of 2012 the band released their first album, “Become Who You Are,” independently and moved to Austin shortly afterward. Prior to forming Holiday Mountain, the three members were all serious about music. As graduates of the Berklee School of Music, both Patino and Will studied the industry professional; Patino studied professional music and Will studied sound design. While Kagle had the option to attend the school, he instead attended a small program for world percussion. “Once I met Laura and played with her, she pushed me to develop really fast as a musician because she was so good and had so many high expectations for everybody around her, including me. I really buckled down and started mastering the drums,” Kagle said.
After their move to Austin, it took a few months for Holiday Mountain to make an indent on the music scene. Will admits that after their move, the band played shows at dive-bar status venues, and although being a dedicated band, they ran the risk of being thrown into the scene with less serious acts. “It’s hard to get paid or heard like that because [other musicians] aren’t necessarily demanding compensation either, and it just kind of lowers the bar a little bit,” Will says.
Coming full circle, it was at Free Week 2013 when the band was able to finally get their name out past the passive acts. With assistance from Lauren Bruno from Les RAV, the band scored a show at Holy Mountain on 7th street, with what Patino calls “all the right elements” — a strong time slot with symbolic tastemakers who people could already trust. “The hardest step is getting to a point where people know it’s okay to like you … There’s so many bands all the time, and everyone’s just trying to get a shot at attention, so you have to have somebody else who’s not you to convince them that this is [the band to listen to],” Kagle says.
As Holiday Mountain has begun to establish itself in the Austin music scene, the band has started mobilizing plans to work with a management team and are also looking into recording under a label. Patino says that the band aims to release their next album in April of 2014 and that the additional help will allow them to focus more on the music. “The business side and the creative side have a lot of conflicting emotions sometimes. They don’t have to, but it is challenging to balance both of them,” Patino says.
While the band can’t share much about the future aside from the album release and the assurance of touring in the coming year, they stressed the importance of taking the time to appreciate the present. “It’s just about accepting yourself for your weirdness and having fun with other people over it. These are timeless things that feel amazing, and it’s easy to forget the more absorbed we get in the Internet world,” Patino says.
Holiday Mountain’s last show of the year is on November 15 at the Parish. Bands Ishi and AJ Vincent will also be performing. Doors open at 9 p.m., and the show starts at 10 p.m. Check out the band’s website, like them on Facebook and buy their album on Bandcamp.
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Want more Holiday Mountain news? Read ORANGE’s coverage of the band at Ditch the Fest Fest.