97x Artist of the Week: Capital Cities!

97x Artist of the Week: Capital Cities! 

Posted: 1:38 pm Monday, October 3rd, 2016

By Kyle Taylor

It’s been a few years since Capital Cities took the world by storm with their insanely catchy smash hit single, “Safe and Sound”, from their debut album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery. I, embarrassingly enough, thought this had the potential to be a one hit wonder, BUT, I’ve got some good news to share with you… They’re back! The synth pop duo just released a new single appropriately titled, “Vowels”. I say appropriately titled, because, well, the chorus of the song is just that, vowels.

Sebu Simonian said of the song, “When you can’t express yourself with words, sometimes you just want to scream to get it all out. You need vowels to do that!”

The other half of Capital Cities, Ryan Merchant, recently told Rolling Stone that a painful breakup of his is what led to the song and also describes the inspiration as being “about having so many things on your mind that you’re unable to express in words.”

“Vowels” is the first taste of an upcoming EP due out sometime this month and a full length album slated for early 2017. We don’t have much information as to what to expect from the new album. However, we do know that “Vowels” was co-produced by Pitbull and Flo Rida, and they tried their best to stay away from “big, expensive studios”. Other than that, I’m really excited to see what they have up their sleeves, because coming back from such an unexpectedly successful debut is not an easy task. Often times, bands try too hard to replicate that success and lose sight of the process that got them there in the first place. That might explain their reluctance to start recording in those “big, expensive studios” in favor of the home studio or basement. Lucky enough for music fans in and around Tampa Bay, I’d expect them to share several new songs at their upcoming Tampa date, which coincidentally happens to be the 97x Next Big Thing! 😉


It all started with a Craigslist ad. Ryan Merchant was the only one to respond to Sebu Simonian’s ad offering his production services, and the rest is history. Well, not really. It may seem like Capital Cities was an overnight success with “Safe and Sound”, but that’s far from the truth. Neither artist had much to brag about before meeting one another, and then it took several more years of grinding before they actually had something to brag about. Shortly after responding to the Craigslist ad, the two began working together writing jingles and composing music for commercials for well-known brands such as Home Depot, Nike, and Coca Cola, all the while gigging around LA under the guise of Capital Cities. Certainly nothing shabby, but far from where they are today.

“Safe and Sound” was written in 2009, while the duo was at the height of their jingle work, but it wasn’t until 2011 that it was recorded and digitally released under their own label, Lazy Hooks. Despite limited exposure (although it was a hit in Peru of all places), the song was good enough for Capital Records to come calling. A record deal and two years later, “Safe and Sound” would finally be released on the group’s 2013 debut album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery. With the support of a major record label, it became an immediate and hit and flooded radio waves across America. The album also charted in nearly a dozen countries, including going gold in Mexico. “Safe and Sound” garnered them several nominations, including a Grammy nod for best music video. They then blasted into 2014 supporting Katy Perry on the North American leg of her Prismatic World Tour, and there was no looking back.

It was almost as if life couldn’t get any better, because that was about the last we saw of Capital Cities… until today. I’m pumped to actually have new music from them (and not just speculation) and the opportunity to see them perform in Tampa this December. I’ve only seen them once, but I left wanting more. They pack a ton of energy into their live shows, and will surely be one act not to miss at this year’s Next Big Thing! So, in the words or rather “Vowels”, of Sebu and Ryan, Aaaaaaa- Oooooo- Eeeeeee. (That means we’ll see you there!)