Los Angeles duo Trapdoor Social originally bonded over a deep concern for the future of the planet. Conveying their message through an emotive alternative-pop experience, the musicians and talented writers plan to donate 100% of proceeds from their forthcoming full-length LP to a solar energy project in Los Angeles. After speaking with Trapdoor Social’s Merritt Graves and Skylar Funk, I can state that their concern and passion for music and the environment is genuine and inspiring. In a recent interview, I asked Trapdoor Social about their harmonies, fighting for environmental responsibility, and living in Los Angeles. They indulged us with these answers:
AMBY: Hey Trapdoor Social, what’s been keeping the band busy lately?
Trapdoor Social: Hey Alicia, things have been pretty hectic around here. We just wrapped up our fundraising drive to put solar panels on the rooftop of the Los Angeles non-profit, Homeboy Industries, and gave everyone who donated our album early in exchange. Of course, we had to finish the album in order to do that so it’s what we spent a lot of the Fall/Winter on.
AMBY: How would you describe each other in one word?
AMBY: The two of you met at an Environmental Analysis program and “fight for environmental responsibility.” Does your concern for the future of the planet have an influence on your songwriting?
Trapdoor Social: Climate Change is kind of this abstract, slow motion train-wreck of a thing that’s hard for people to really get hung up on because it doesn’t trigger any of the traditional fight or flight responses our bodies usually use to warn us. Climate Change, and all the other unintended side effects of modern technology, have transpired outside of our evolutionary experience and thus are these huge blindspots. Therefore, the challenge becomes finding a way to communicate about this stuff in a way people can get and feel on a visceral level and hope that it inspires further study. We’re trying to do it through music.
AMBY: I’m really enjoying the band’s use of harmonies. How did those come into play with your music?
Trapdoor Social: A lot of the music we both agree on features vocal harmonies, and especially when we first formed the band, the two of us spent a lot of time just singing together (without a bunch of other instruments in the mix), which really facilitated harmony. Sometimes that act of singing with another person creates euphoria – it just feels amazing.
AMBY: Like You Never is an extremely motivational and heartfelt song. What inspired the track?
Trapdoor Social: Like You Never was one of our first songs as a writing duo. It started with a guitar riff Skylar wrote, and the agreement to each work out a song of our own over the riff, knowing that we would only use one of them in the end. We brought the two products back together for comparison… and Merritt’s won. For me (Skylar), it is interesting to watch how Merritt thrives under pressure. Deadlines, competition, and stress seem to bring out his best work.
AMBY: Do you find that living in Los Angeles has an influence on the band’s sound? And if so, how?
Trapdoor Social: Yes, I’m (Merritt) always a little bit on edge living here because the whole way it’s laid out just doesn’t feel right. Back in the 1930s and 40s Los Angeles had one of the best mass transit systems in the country, but it was bought up and subsequently dismantled by oil and car companies, in favor of highways. Highways encourage sprawl, and sprawl encourages driving and redundant infrastructure, and driving and redundant infrastructure creates snarls of traffic and CO2 tailpipe emissions. Unsurprisingly, when you let private corporations plan your city for you, they’re going to plan it in a way that suits them and their shareholders. We wrote a song about it called “Angel City” that’s on our new album.
AMBY: If you could share one final message with the world, what would that message be?
Trapdoor Social: Invest in your brain, your health, your planet, and your world. Make it what you want it to be because you only have one of each.
AMBY: Which 2014 release are you most looking forward to?
Merritt: Radiohead I hope.
Skylar: More Macklemore?
AMBY: What was the best release of 2013?
Skylar: Oh man, is that year over? I’m still recovering from Bon Iver (Bon Iver) and Ceremonials (Florence + the Machine)… Which I guess were in 2011
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about Trapdoor Social that nobody knows yet?
Trapdoor Social: Side projects, Merritt’s novel and Skylar’s solo EP, should both be complete this year.
Thank you Trapdoor Social, for giving us your answers!
Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout