This week, a cross-freeway conversation with a daring electro-roots outfit born and raised in the San Fernando Valley of LA: Run River North.
Z caught up with frontman and lyricist Alex Hwang to discuss how this group of Korean-American friends came together nearly a decade ago (they then called themselves Monsters Calling Home) and found a waiting fanbase who eagerly embraced their emotive songs about immigrant family dramas done masterfully with acoustic instruments and a lush electronic backdrop. Early standout songs like “Growing Up” harnessed their nuanced classical chops and show how large the divide can be between their parents’ and grandparents’ view of America and how it really is for the new generation born and raised in LA.
Gaining notice in Southern California’s coffee shop scene, an unexpected live performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live (thanks to a beloved music video they shot in their Honda) shot the band to national awareness. Non-stop touring began in earnest with their gorgeous self-titled rebrand “Run River North” which got them signed to Nettwerk.
It’s no secret that the band is looked up to in the rarely-represented Asian rock and pop communities, and by 2016 Run River North was playing some of their biggest shows to date at festivals in Japan and South Korea. But with the realities of the road hitting hard, in 2018 the group pared down its lineup to what we see today, with founding members Alex Hwang (guitar/vocals), Daniel Chae (guitars/vocals), and Sally Kang (keys/vocals) leading the way forward.
The last few years saw the band go independent again, and during the pandemic they have put out a flurry of hooky folk-pop gems, like the subversive “Pretty Lies,” that have them cautiously more excited about the future than ever.
Stick around to the end of the episode to hear Alex present his favorite new single “Cemetery” about the off-kilter first date he took his now wife on. Their new full length Creatures In Your Head will drop early 2021.
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