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Interview // COUCH PRINTS

“If we’re bringing some light into your life, that’s a good thing,” we sat down with New York-based Couch Prints, the 80s-influenced pop band of our dreams, to discuss their stunning debut EP Tell U and the story of the band so far.

Photo: Morgan Winston & Mar Christiano

A few scattered notes float out of musical ether. Haunting, ethereal vocals follow soon after, matching the thrumming pace set by the song’s production. Building momentum and strength with each passing beat, the melody takes shape into Of Drawing, one of just six songs released by New York-based Couch Prints.

For a group that appears to have taken root spontaneously, by fate, the magic of Couch Prints has been in development for years. Members Brandon Tong and Jacob Truax were inseparable whilst growing up in Colorado, yet never made music together. Couch Prints only began to take form in their young adulthood. After a study abroad trip to Paris, where Truax met vocalist Jayanna Roberts, the three artists converged on New York City in early 2019 and recorded their first song, Tell U.

“Right after that, we knew,” Truax says. “It just clicked.”

In the whirlwind month that followed, Couch Prints went on to record an entire EP. Various iterations of their current discography existed on this SoundCloud release in some form; however, the group didn’t feel like the material was ready for an audience, so it was taken down after only two days.

Later that year, they went on to release their debut single Tell U and suddenly found themselves on popular Spotify playlists Fresh Finds and Bedroom Pop. This led to folks reaching out about having them out to play shows. “We had never played any of our music [live] before,” Truax says. Couch Prints gave themselves six weeks to learn a live set and buy the gear they needed to perform, a time of preparation they describe as “hectic.”

Their first (unofficial) show, one deemed “low risk,” was a two-hour long set at a Manhattan farmer’s market. Their second followed two days later at the Bowery Electric. After wrapping up 2019 on a high note, and overcoming the multitude of challenges brought by 2020, Couch Prints released their gorgeous, multifaceted debut EP Tell U in October 2020.

Looking back, Couch Prints is still in awe of their work. There’s a humility to the way they describe Tell U. “It blows my mind that we made Tell U a couple of years ago. When we open those files now, they’re such a mess. We were doing everything technically wrong, but it somehow worked out,” Tong says. They also acknowledge their achievements and are proud of how much they’ve grown musically and professionally in their short history.

And, like many artists, they struggle with the finality of release. “We had so much music written, but we kept getting better and better. Things would get written and cut, written and cut,” Tong says. “I think it was really hard for us to finally say, ‘It’s done. We can’t work on this anymore. We need to release this.’” Signing with Luminelle Records aided the effort with a necessary push forward and gave them a much-needed deadline. Roberts elaborates on her personal experience with the EP, “I felt most proud when it all came together. Hearing it front to back, that moment of it being done, even before it being out. That was the most amazing moment.”

It has always been our goal to make pop music

In our ever-changing musical landscape, it can be hard to define and categorize modern music into genre. Couch Prints has a relaxed view on their music. “It has always been our goal to make pop music,” Truax says. However, “Tell U and Lost Me seem like totally different worlds to me,” he clarifies. “I like the idea of it being dance-esque,” Roberts interjects with a smile.

Jayanna Roberts is the mooring that holds the group together. There’s a gorgeous, hypnotizing quality about her vocal delivery. “Soft storytelling voices always inspired me; to reflect that intimate energy going on,” Roberts says. Slightly monotone, with a brighter, airy quality, her inflection lacks tension. It’s meditative. Listening to her sing is like swimming in a secluded lake. She pulls you in, almost to the point where you can forget to float, if only just for a moment. Then, the musical and production talents of Truax and Tong give you space to breathe, providing a delightful, melodic buoyancy.

At the end of the day, “If we’re bringing some light into your life, that’s a good thing,” Truax concludes.

As they look to the future, they hope to conclude this chapter of the Couch Prints story; “Chapter 01, 2020” is written on the EP cover. Truax explains the design choice:

“The whole concept of the album is that it was retelling these past experiences. We wanted to package it in a way where it’s like, ‘This is Chapter One of the Couch Prints story.’ That’s it. It was a way for us to put a full stop period after that. Now we’re free to do whatever we want, make any kind of music we want, etc.”

Whereas Tell U displays a breadth of material true to a band that is still finding their sweet spot, Truax hopes to bring electronic, rave and potentially some pop punk elements into future releases. Their new album he describes as pulling from a “different sonic palette,” and he hopes it has a lot more continuity. “I don’t know if we’ll ever find what Couch Prints is necessarily,” he says. “We just want to make the music that we want to listen to.”

“It’s a sign of the times. It’s such a hyper-media landscape that it’s impossible to not be influenced constantly,” Tong adds. “I’m too manic of a person to even stick to a sound for longer than a year.”

“That’s the fun of not knowing where it’s going to go. There’s a core, a general thing. But the way it’ll come out will always be changing,” Roberts concludes.