DWNTWN is one of the coolest bands I discovered last year and still rock out too from L.A. The members of the band are:
- Jamie Leffler — Vocals
- Robert Cepeda — Guitar and Vocals
- Chris Sanchez — Keyboard and Bass
- Dan Vanchieri — Drums
In 2010, Leffler was dating Cepeda’s brother and when Leffler broke up with his brother, they began the band. They made their first appearances on two different Kitsune compilations, “See My Eyes” and “Move Me.”Cepeda says that he never wanted to be a boy/girl duo with Leffler, they wanted to be a band. They goy their wish and eventually Sanchez and Vanchieri joined them and they released numerous singles and two EPs, Cowboys and The Red Room. Eventually the group released their EP, DWNTWN, in 2014. DWNTWN, is a very personal album for the band, especially the track that Leffler wrote, “Heroine.” “Heroine,” is about Leffler’s relationship with her father, who she talked to me about. The four of them have created an electric, rock, indie sound that you can hear in their music.
What is your story?
I grew up in L.A and my dad (Howie Epstein) is the bass player for Tom Petty and the Heart Breaker’s. When I was little, not only was I introduced to awesome music, I got to go on tour. In the summers I would go on tour for one or two weeks and it gave me an inside look at what being a musician is like. It definitely peaked my interest and got me excited about music. I remember when I was little that I would sit in the back of the stage between the amp’s and I would look at the crowd. It was a really special moment playing live.
As I got older, I tried playing the guitar and I can’t count how many times there were when I got frustrated. I tried singing but never how I really wanted too. When I was seventeen I started a rock band and we were really terrible. It lead me to meet Robert and I loved listening to his indie band in high school and I remember saying, “They’re so cool and I really want to play that.” I basically begged him, “Can we start writing music together? What you do is so cool.” Eventually it worked and we started writing and were both surprised and went, “Wow that was kind of cool.” We had fun and we kept going with it and it took us years to kind of figure out our style, our vocal and musical style, what matters to us in a song. But we really grew together to find that place.
How was it growing up with your Dad being the bass player in Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers?
I still think it was really cool and I’m proud of it but some people think that I’m just some kid. Some people can be very critical and I usually don’t lead with that information. Itdefinitely made me who I am and definitely kind of decided upon my identity as a musician. When I was little my dad would always invite other musicians to come over to my house to work on stuff. For example, one time Lenny Kravitz came over and this was in the 90s when he had a lot of piercings, etc… and I was terrified and slammed the door in his face. It’s just those type of things were I can look back and go, “Wow that was so crazy and special and amazing. I wish I was old enough to fully understand the weight of that.” I look back and think about how Stevie Nicks is my idol and when I was eight I shared a salad with her and had no idea.
Who are some of your musical influences?
- I love Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac is a big one.
- G R I M E S and I think it’s so cool that she kind of can do everything herself and she’s so fiercely blunt. She stands up to the status quo of how things are supposed to be done, especially as a woman in music. I think it’s very admirable and she does it so well.
- I listened to a lot of Sheryl Crow when I was growing up and her first album, Tuesday Night Music Club, was on repeat all through elementary school.
- Arcade Fire
- The Beatles
- Beach House and I love Victoria’s lead voice and she’s just so rich and beautiful. Their live show is amazing too.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the world who do you think it would be?
That’s a tough question, let’s see… I’m scanning my brain to think because it would be so magical. I would have to say Paul McCartney because you can’t beat, The Beatles. The Beatles are so amazing and their another big influence and their songs are incredible. To work with a Beatle would be such an honor and I don’t know if I could do it because I would be there going, “Oh my god, I don’t know what’s happening!” The insight you would have to songwriting and the process would help so much.
One of my favorite DWNTWN song’s is, “Till Tomorrow.” What is it about?
That song is pretty much about the idea you don’t know about your life and what you’re doing and putting forth effort regardless how emotionally struggling because the effort you put in today will eventually pay off tomorrow. That’s what we were thinking about when we were writing it. Something I love is when people interpret our songs and goes, “Well this song had this message,” or “This song has this meaning to me or this experience.” It might be totally different when I was writing it but it can be kind of applied to people’s lives and I find that special.
Are you writing any new music or planning on going on tour?
Yeah! We have a whole EP ready and we’re just planning the release right now. We want to release some songs soon but it’s important to have the business side organized and ready to go before we start putting things out. We don’t just want to throw it up on the internet and go, “Oh woops, I guess we didn’t have everything we needed it place.” We would love to go on tour and we would need to get all the dates together before we can plan exactly how to release and get it all come together. We haven’t done much east coast touring and we would love to come to the east and west coast. Drive all over the place!
Keep on rockin’ for me guys! I hope to see you soon!