By Chris Gaffey
Capital Cities is a U.S. indie-pop duo from Los Angeles, California. Composers Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian initially met on craigslist in 2008 and worked as jingle writers until they formed the indie electro band Capital Cities in 2010. They released a debut EP independently in 2011 that included the song “Safe and Sound,” an upbeat mesh of synths and melody that spread like wildfire across the Internet. It was released in the UK in late September 2013.
When they discovered through social media that an alternative radio station in Peru began to play the song, they connected with fans from Lima and organized tours in South America.
Encouraged by the experience, the band self-funded a promotional campaign and got on the radio in the states. Soon after, the music industry and the rest of the world took notice. Capitol Records signed the band’s indie label Lazy Hooks and released Capital Cities’ debut album In A Tidal Wave of Mystery in June, 2013
“Safe and Sound” went multi-Platinum in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Mexico, and others, and shot to the top of numerous international charts, including number one on alternative radio in the U.S. and number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
The music video, a celebratory mash-up of dancing from various eras and cultures, received a VMA and a Grammy nomination.
The band has toured four continents and played in front of tens of thousands fans at festivals in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Poland, Japan and Korea. This year they will play Coachella, Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Hangout Fest and all three South American Lollapalooza dates and then hit the road with Katy Perry on the first leg of her summer tour.
Merchant and Simonian are joined by bassist Manny Quintero, trumpeter Spencer Ludwig, guitarist Nick Merwin, and drummer Channing Holmes.
K’naan is a Somalian-born rapper and singer-songwriter, known most notably for his hit song “Wavin’ Flag,” which was selected as Coca-Cola’s anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. K’naan’s albums have featured prominent artists such as Metallic guitarist Kirk Hammett, Adam Levine, Nas, and Nelly Furtado. His most recent album is “Country, God or the Girl.”
K’naan’s sound has been described of a fusion of “Bob Marley, conscious American hip-hop, and brilliant protest poetry,” and is influenced by Somali music and current events. His most successful album, Troubadour, draws heavily on Ethiopena sources as well and has been described as a powerful African-pride album.
Beyond the scope of the music industry, K’naan is also a noted philanthropist and activist. Eight years after fleeing his home country of Somalia when it was plunged into civil war, K’naan performed in front of the United Nations for its failed Somali aid mission.
Ashley Sofia is a 2011 Union College graduate, returning home to Schenectady to open for a show that only 3 years ago she attended as a student. Recently described as “the future of Folk Rock,” Ashley was born and raised writing and playing music in the heart of the Adirondacks. Her debut album is “Love and Fury,” and her top singles include “If We Really Try” and “Let Go.”