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Meet a band called Halcyon…

May 25, 2014

Starting next Tuesday, the Denver Original Music Initiative will be running our second quarter contest – a chance to win a live performance video through Baccetti Music Productions. Please stay tuned. But in the meantime, I had a little chat with winners of our 1Q contest.

The band Halcyon won 16 hours of free recording time with Evergroove Studio last February. In the months since, they got a chance to tour the studio and speak with owner Brad Smalling. Halcyon plans to enter the studio in November after a significant amount of preparation. Here’s a little more background about our winners (Bryan Coy on guitar, vocals, and drums; Brian Sapp on bass; Dan Leblanc on guitar and vocals).

HalcyonBandPhoto

Where did the name Halcyon originate?

Bryan Coy: The name Halcyon means tranquil, placid, and serenity. I usually come up with random band names, song names, and album titles out of the blue and write them down on some miscellaneous napkins and notepad paper. Halcyon was one name I had really liked for a long time. When Brian (Sapp) and I started performing open mic gigs we went through a few names (like The Briyanz, SheepleCubed, and Musically Transmitted Disease) before settling on Halcyon. I was saving it for a special project.

Have any of you been in other bands in the past?

Dan: I’ve played in a couple different couple bands in the past; this is my first band that’s really focused on original music.

Bryan C: I’ve been in different band projects since ’94. My first band was with some high school buddies, Wes and Ryan Magyar. We went by The Left Hand Band (because we all played left handed), then as Friendly Donut. In ’96 I started another project with (Mighty) Mike McGee called Goat’s Milk.

In the aught years I was in a couple SoCal metal bands like CFL and Halfwit, and then in a hip-hop/rap collab called Looking Back Later. My solo project that has been on and off since ’96 has gone by Lantern and more recently Bryan Coy’s Lantern Project. In most of these projects I play guitar or drums, but in Lantern I play all the instruments.

Brian S: My first band was called “Obscurity”. I still have a notebook full of ideas, pictures, and band art from that band and some basement tapes full of some truly awful sounding music! I guess the band title was a self- fulfilling prophesy (laughs)! I was in a couple of short lived bands in high school and then I took a hiatus from bands throughout college.

I did a lot of jamming with other musicians and multi-tracked a lot of my own tunes. Then around 2004 my wife and I joined the band West of The Blues and shortly thereafter Dan joined the band. We were in the band about 3 years and then Dan, my wife, and I formed a rock band called Tipping Runes. That project lasted about 8 months.

Halcyon, performing at the Toad Tavern.

Halcyon, performing at the Toad Tavern.

How would you best describe your music?

Dan: It’s tough to really say. I’m not saying it’s so mysterious that it can’t be categorized, because in many ways it’s straight ahead rock type stuff. We’re still feeling our way. We all like such different music, there’s certainly some curveballs in our repertoire. That being said, it’s still 2 guitars and a bass, so it’s not rewriting the rulebook or anything.

Brian S: Well, we have a bit o’ grunge, funk, rockabilly, ballad, jazz, blues, and more. We are still defining our sound.

Bryan C: I call it Fuzik: The fusion of our music. We come from different backgrounds and like different music, which coalesces into Halcyon. We’re riff heavy with rhythmic dynamics and experienced lyrics.

Bryan Coy and Dan Leblanc

Bryan Coy and Dan Leblanc

Who does most of your songwriting? Can you describe your typical songwriting technique?

Dan: So far it’s been a pretty even split between Coy and myself. Not to say Sapp hasn’t contributed, because he certainly has. Personally I’m still learning how to write songs, so I don’t know about “technique” really.

Some songs, like Safe Word, I had the music and melody in my head before I ever played a note – even some of the lyrics came about, me just sort of singing this tune to myself to pass the time at work. A song like Resistance started out as just a chord played on an acoustic guitar. I wasn’t really intending to write a song but something about that chord just suggested something to me and before I knew it the basic song was there, lyrics and all, in about 20 minutes. Most of the songs that I write tend to be like that – once I get going it comes quickly or not at all. I don’t like to labor too long at an idea [lol].

Bryan C: I’ve been writing songs for a looooong time. I’ve had many different techniques that I’ve worked with before. I usually start with a verse chorus verse structure, and then vary with the formula and use progression manipulation. Sometimes I start with a “mind spew” and free flow to write lyrics, where I write anything that comes to mind.

With Halcyon, I like how we came up with songs like Jigsaw or Wordless. With Wordless, Sapp came up with the basic progression then we used our dropbox to post revamped recordings back and forth. I came up with some lyrics immediately after hearing Sapp’s initial version. Then we recorded the demo in our rehearsal studio, where we were able to listen to the song and add guitar melodies and vocal harmonies.

Brian S: Dan & Bryan write all the lyrics and the basic structures of most of the songs. I write all my bass parts. We all contribute to the overall sound and arrangement of each song. One of my favorite parts of our songwriting process is when we record the demo. I enjoy sculpting the sound and mixing a demo that is enjoyable to listen to.

Brian Sapp

Brian Sapp

What’s on the bucket list for Halcyon?

Dan: Well, like all musicians, we’d like to get our music to the masses. I think that’s the most important thing on all our minds. It sounds pretentious as hell, but if music is art, then it exists to be appreciated. We’d like to our music to be appreciated [lol]!

Bryan C: I would like to record a full-length album and distribute it nationally. A bit of touring and travelling would be nice, with major label support. Maybe play a few music festivals and a few major bills.

Brian S: Yeah, a full length album recorded professionally and doing some touring! I really enjoy travel and it would be amazing to get a feel for the music scene across the states!

Do you know which songs you’ll be recording yet? What are the names of the tunes and descriptions of the styles?

Dan: We’ve talked about it and I’m sure we’ll talk about it some more. Everybody has their favorites within the band. I think Jigsaw is a shoe-in. It’s very cinematic, tells a story and as far as collaborations go is probably the best example of that. Everybody had something positive to contribute to that tune that made it better.

Resistance seems to be one everybody enjoys. It’s an acoustic tune with some nice layering and atmosphere; I think it successfully evokes an emotion, even if I couldn’t tell you what that emotion is. There are plenty of strong candidates. It’s hard not to be selfish; we all want to see our babies grow up [lol].

Bryan C: We wanted to record a mix of songs that express our diversity and range of talents. Songs like Heavy Tread (riff rock), Gag Reflex (dance, youth, swing), Photosynthesis (Grungy rock with vocal harmonies and rap), Morning Sorrow (Grungy Alternative), Resistance (Somber mellow rhythmic), Mellowdrone (Swamp Rock), and the others (Jigsaw, Wordless, Summer Breeze, and Safe Word).

Brian S: If time permits, we would like to record 3 to 5 songs that Bryan & Dan just mentioned. I am sure that Brad will do a great job. I’ve listened to quite a few projects he has recorded and hope to get similar results!

FIRE_IceWORDHave you thought about how you are going to market your music once completed?

Dan: What, MySpace isn’t good enough anymore [lol]?

Bryan C: ITunes and mass in-store performances until Denver gets sick of us, then we’ll go bug Colorado Springs.
Brian S: We have a lot to learn about the actual music business. That’s one reason we have been networking so much with other musicians and reading articles and blogs about the music industry. Bryan has some seriously good graphic design skills that we have already put to good use (logos, gig posters, etc.) so I’m sure that will be one of the many tools we will use in our marketing campaign!

What are you currently doing to prepare for your time in the studio? What do you hope to accomplish?

Dan: We’ve been fortunate to be able to record most of our songs on our own. There’s so much you can accomplish – everybody knows the music industry is a DIY affair nowadays. So because of that, we’ve got a pretty good idea of what we want to do once we get started in the studio and how we want things to sound.

With any luck this will enable us to accomplish a bit more than most in the timeframe that we have. We really want to maximize our time and get as many tunes recorded that we can, while not sacrificing the quality of any of the songs.
Bryan C: I’ve been reworking my guitar sound and vocal harmony parts. I got the drums down pretty good and I’m revamping any lyrical variations I’m up in the air about. Perfection is impractical, but practice can make our experience concise and professional.

Brian S: Having the self-produced demos helps us identify strong and weak areas of each tune. We have been playing live quite a bit also and that has helped us work out the way the recorded music differs from a live performance of the same song. We have organized and charted out all our original tunes and that is a great way to analyze and learn the song also!

Any parting thoughts?

Bryan C: I’d just like to thank you for your time and for inviting us to do this. We really appreciate everyone who has been so kind and generous to us from the beginning. We really wouldn’t be anywhere without them. And then, of course to our fans, friends, and families, who have supported our crazy musical ideas all along. They are the regulars at our shows and the ones who make this fun!

To hear music from Halcyon, please visit their web site.

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