Rock is filled with bands with semi-covert identities. Think of KISS or Sia before they went unmasked, or early punks donning nicknames like Johnny Rotten and Jello Biafra. This is the case for Providence’s Droplets, although decades-long local show-goers are sure to recognize the bass guitarist – and perhaps the guitar player by association – both of whom have been plugging in their amps and playing on dusty stages together across the area as far back as the ‘80s. The guitarist known as Coco divulges, “Din doesn’t even show his face. His full name is Din Sandez.” (Editor’s note: GenXers might be able to crack the sort of homophonic code with this one). “I might also go by Mark,” Coco concedes, further dotting the “i’s” by clarifying that vocalist Cayce should be spelled with yellow emoji stars at both ends of her name. “The stars are silent.”
Droplets have an early 2000s vibe, capturing elements of Incubus, 311, Radiohead, and Alanis Morisette, with more than a few psychedelic forays that bring feelings of Led Zeppelin and Iron Butterfly swelling up. But, with that stripped-down synth and bass interplay, there are definitely roots in the punk/new wave scene a la DEVO, Kraftwerk, Stereolab, and Broadcast. “If there is an inspiration, or a conceptual jumping off point, we think it would be something like Portishead meets Black Moth Super Rainbow meets The Stranglers,” says Din.
Live, Droplets translates their music in a very straightforward way, incorporating reactive video to their show. The use of samples, synths, and sequencers came out of Din’s frustration of getting the guitar sounds he wanted. He found that he only had to get the guitar sound right once if he recorded it and sampled it; he could then take that guitar or keys sound and mess with it on the synth.
“We are also forever working and tweaking our audio-reactive video projections,” says Din. “It definitely adds another psychedelic dimension. The videos respond to our live audio and we get some pretty groovy visuals.”
Earlier this year, Droplets released an eponymous 10-track digital album. From the stripped-down drum and keyboard intro of “The Jug Collector” at the get-go and on, their sound is intriguing in how they let each track unfold into varying and contrasting movements. Moments of stark simplicity become broken up by chaotic noise instrumental breaks all tied together by the direct, soulful vocals of Cayce.
“Mixing the album took a while to make sure all the layers were as apparent as they needed to be, but ensuring the bass was still driving the groove. And, getting the bass very present in a mix, while still having a thick low end that doesn’t blow out your speakers, takes a lot of patience,” explains Din. “The rest of the instrumentation is all played from a synth or guitar live on top of sequenced samples. Once we have a groove going, we remove what isn’t necessary. From there, we let Cayce’s lyrics and vocals dictate the final arrangements.”
Coco shares that most of the songs on the record started as instrumentals, uploaded to Bandcamp in the summer of ‘20 with names given simply to identify files. “We started playing with Cayce that fall, and she used the existing puerile/nonsensical titles as a jumping off point for writing lyrics. I think it’s safe to say she brings more to the songs than we ever imagined.” Follow along at DropletsBand on Instagram and Droplet.Bandcamp.com
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