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Photography Rhyan Santos

listen to the sublime debut single from cali indie group pageants

Nick Fulton

Nick Fulton

Seven years after former Avi Buffalo member Rebecca Coleman founded Pageants, the Long Beach band is blessing us with its summery first release, “Chai ( חַי)."

Photography Rhyan Santos

In 2009, while still in their mid-teens, Rebecca Coleman's band, Avi Buffalo, signed to the iconic Sub Pop label. Then, one week after graduating high school, they went on tour with Beach House. Everything seemed to fall into place for the free-spirited indie-pop band from Long Beach, California; while their peers were applying to college, they were off becoming rock stars. But unfortunately for Coleman the dream was short-lived and she left the band to work on her own solo project, Family Blankets — which eventually morphed into Pageants.

Pageants evolved into a band when Devin O'Brien (now Coleman's boyfriend) joined, and started working on songs with another ex-Avi Buffalo collaborator, Dylan Wood. But in the seven years since, the trio has only made the occasional live appearance and uploaded just three whimsical and unusually sparse pop songs to its SoundCloud.

Completing and releasing the first Pageants record has been a slow process, delayed by label negotiations and conflicting schedules. Despite the ups and downs, Coleman has remained focused on getting the record released — the album comes out this fall. Meanwhile, O'Brien has been touring with Los Angeles punk band Cherry Glazerr, and Wood joined Best Coast.

Today, the California indie-pop band is unveiling its first single, "Chai ( חַי)," about the pressures of becoming an adult, and the conflicted emotions behind finding your own space. Warm, luscious sounds merge to create the perfect summer pop song, with a gauzy current of keyboard and guitar distortion laying a foundation for Coleman's soothing vocals. If you like Best Coast, Beach House, or Avi Buffalo, there's a good chance you're going to love Pageants.

Hi Rebecca, you must be excited to finally release your first single.
I am so excited, like, really, really excited. It's been a long time in the works. We created the band about seven years ago, after I quit Avi Buffalo.

How did you meet Devin and when did you start collaborating on music?
I actually met Devin in Dylan's garage. The house I grew up in is on the same street as Dylan's house. We would always go to his garage to hang out, play games, and just chill. One time Dylan's friend came over and was like, "This is Devin. He's new to school and we're working on a project together." Then [Devin] mentioned, "I think we're going to be in the same art class." He came into the class, and I don't know if you've seen the movie Donnie Darko, but the teacher kind of did a Donnie Darko thing on us. She made the person next to me get up and she put Devin next to me. We totally hit off and I had a really big crush on him, but we didn't end up working on music together and we fell out of touch. We ended up hanging out again towards the end of high school and that's when he got more involved with Avi Buffalo. Then he started helping me with my Family Blankets project and we've been working on stuff ever since. Now we're together and we love each other.

That's a classic Hollywood story.
Honestly, I'm not too embarrassed about it because I feel like it would be way more embarrassing if we were high school sweethearts, like legit been dating since we first met when we were 15. But we didn't start dating till way later.

Has Devin shared any lessons from working with Cherry Glazerr that have helped you see music differently?
Definitely seeing everything that's happening with Devin makes me want it for myself again. It's not teaching me anything, more like reinforcing what I already know that I want in my life, so I think that is very beneficial.

Tell me about your first single, "Chai ( חַי)"?
It's [pronounced] "hay," which is the Hebrew word for life. It's about a general disdain for adult things, and was written after all the touring [with Avi Buffalo] when I was coming back to real life and feeling some kind of pressure to adjust.

What can you tell me about the record that's coming out in October?
Devin is an engineer and he helped me produce the whole record. It was a very DIY experience. We didn't have any help, other than from our friend Vinnie, who Devin met through a Craigslist purchase. He's really talented, so we got him to mix the record and we got a guy that he knows to master it. Vinnie works at a place that provides music for commercials and movies. They made music for Obama's campaign. As far as recording, we did it all at home because we have a room that's a studio. Devin has learned a lot from recording our record and it kind of got him into doing what he does now, because when he's not on tour he's an engineer at a studio that's really close to our house, called BIG EGO.

The songs all kind of deal with adjusting to real life. My hometown is Long Beach, so it's about coming home after everything and figuring out what I'm doing, because I had to get a real job, which I'm not mad about, but clearly I'd love to just be a musician. Personal stuff like that.

When can we expect to see Pageants live?
Cherry Glazerr are wrapping up their year around Thanksgiving, so we don't have official plans yet, but we'd love to go on tour. We don't have an official schedule, but that's the plan.