Ellenwood got to sit down with our new favorite duo Lonnie & Thomas of Cardinox…we touched on everything from band names to favorite clubs in Seattle! This weekend they’ll be playing at the Capitol Hill Block Party, but before you go see them read (and listen) what they have to say about their music.

Mary:
How did you come up with the name Cardiknox, is there some meaning to it?

Thomas:

It’s a play on a family name, my mom’s maiden name is Cardiknox – it’s a play on that and the way that kids would ignorantly pronounce it, so we changed the spelling to poke fun at it a little bit.

Mary:
Ultimately, you both need to choose a genre of music that you want to play — you could’ve gone completely acoustic, like in some of the YouTube videos I’ve seen or a dance/pop sound…

Thomas:

When we first started working – before we were really working on Cardiknox, we were messing around writing songs and they were more acoustic, even now when we start a new Cardiknox song it often starts with us writing with an acoustic guitar to get the melody and the cord and scales and everything. I think ultimately the sound we created with Cardiknox was a reflection of the types of music that we were really moved by and inspired by and listening to that we were fans of and taking our favorite things from our favorite records and artists and making our own version of it. That happened to be dance, sync, 80’s inspired music. I think it was a reflection of the music we were inspired to make, we didn’t sit down and say dancing is really popular right now or what’s trendy right now. It’s much more like; this is absolutely what we feel compelled to make and we get most excited about creating.

Mary:
Who are your musical influences and what genres define your sound?

Lonnie:

Probably more of a mixture, in terms of the eighties sound-scape I think that we looked to Peter Gabriel and tracks from Madonna and Cindy Lauper those are artists that we looked to as some of the great … Micheal Jackson definitely. I think certainly when you set out to create something new and original the hope is kind of what Thomas is saying you’re inspired by your, you’re borrowing ideas or inspiration from these people but in the hope creating something totally new and wholly original.

Mary:
I think your music is perfect for a high intensity boxing class and definitely should be used Soul Cycle spinning class…

Lonnie:

Spreading the gospel, I like it.

Mary:
Absolutely…I’ve been to a lot of shows and I love when artists do a cover not because I want to see them imitate somebody else, because I certainly don’t. I think it’s more because I want to be able to draw a connection and when the band onstage plays a song I can relate to, all of a sudden it’s like, I like that song too.

Thomas:

Totally.

Mary:
Then I feel connected.

Thomas:

We’ve actually talked about it, something that inspires them and you get to see their take on it. We’ve definitely started to talk about implementing a few cover ideas, we haven’t quite gotten around to really working on the arrangements and everything and recording them yet, but we definitely want to do it because I agree that it’s a cool way, even as an artist it’s a cool way to show a song that you love and a song that’s special to you in some way. You can also get clever a little bit in terms of interpreting it in a totally different way. Some of my favorite covers are the ones where artists have done covers of songs that before I heard the cover I felt like; nobody should do a cover of that song because it’s already too good or done too uniquely and suddenly they want to do it in a totally refreshing way and I think that’s really cool.

Mary:
So…this could be a spoiler alert, what cover would you do??

Cardiknox-The-Echo-042616-photos-by-JACOB-GAITAN-JAG_2321

Thomas:

One song that we were talking about, I think would be really fun to do, especially with voice, I think would be a song by the “Postal Service”, The District Sleeps Alone Tonight…I think that would be really fun to hear, “Postal Service” is like super nostalgic for a lot of people, it depends — it’s sad dance music and I think we can do it in a more fun way, more up-beat, more carefree way and with Lonnie’s vocal on it I think it would be cool and refreshing.

Mary:
That’s great. How cool. You guys dance, Lonnie you dance, I used to go to that bar a lot “La Cita” in Los Angeles.

Lonnie:

I spoke with another journalist yesterday actually who was saying how much they loved that bar, what’s funny is that neither Thomas nor I have actually gone to be patrons. We were scouting for that video we loved the way it looked. We need to make a point of going down there to get some beer, because everyone says it’s so much fun.

Mary:
It’s classic, they have Latin night and it’s classic downtown Los Angeles and it really popular, it’s good for a beer … it’s fun to start out there … The dancing in the video is fun, is that something that you do on stage or is it just for a video?

Thomas:

I’m tied down in my station with my guitar and keyboards like that but Lonnie definitely boogies up there a little bit, we’re trying actually to incorporate a little bit more choreography between the two of us and everything. We definitely try and have a good time on stage so that everybody can feel like they’re having a good time.

Lonnie:

Cardiknox-The-Echo-042616-photos-by-JACOB-GAITAN-JAG_2394Very high energy on stage, from the video, we worked for quite a while because I’m not a trained dancer and grew up performing in musical theater but I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a dancer. We actually enrolled a friend of ours he’s an amazing dancer and choreographer to help us with the movement for that video and we spent over a month in the studio with her as she helped with the collaboration in many ways because it was her figuring out what moves we did naturally and then expanding on that. It was fun, it was a lot of work but it was really, really fun to create that especially knowing that we were creating something that we needed to do in one take, so we needed to be very well rehearsed for it. We actually shot our next music video for “Wild Child” and there will be some kind of movement, dance in it although not nearly as much as there was for “On My Way.”

Mary:
That’s great, I loved that and it’s fun to go and see shows where people start dancing and really becoming involved more. It’s also fun to see how you can stop and do an acoustic version too. Do you plan on mixing acoustic into your live set and seeing if you can create that clash?

Thomas:

I don’t know, in terms of the record and the live show, the acoustic stuff has come more when we’ve done smaller strip down performances or performances for radio stations and things like that. I don’t know it’s definitely a hard balance to do acoustic with electronic stuff. I’d definitely like to have real instruments whether it be guitars or pianos or even real drums even, but acoustic there is something that’s really tricky about getting it to really mesh well with electronic music. I don’t it’s definitely something to keep in mind but, it’s tricky.

Mary:
I know you’re from Seattle, what’s your favorite venue and where td you see yourself playing?

Thomas:

One of my favorite venues growing up in Seattle is “The Show Bar” at Pike’s Place we actually played there on the “Carly Rae Jepson” tour, which was dream come true for me, because I’d never actually played there. It’s such a beautiful venue and it’s intimate but it’s still so big. Bigger than that — something like the Paramount might be a dream come true as well. We also got to play which isn’t technically Seattle but we got to play at “The Gorge” at the Sasquatch Festival which was also a huge dream come true for both of us, going to festivals and shows out there growing up, just one of the most beautiful outdoor venues in the world. We’ve gotten the seal off our butts, I guess the next would be the Paramount, would be really, really cool.

 

Mary:
You’re playing Capitol Hill Block Festival in July right?

Thomas:

Yeah Capitol Block Festival.

Mary:
I think it’s a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to seeing more of you.

Lonnie:

Thank you.

Mary:
You’ve also worked with John Shanks he’s produced some of my favorite artists as a teenager growing up. What was it like working with him? Somebody who’s worked with Van Halen and Bonnie Raitt and John Cocker, what was that experience like?

Lonnie:

John is amazing. He is brilliant and he is a wonderful, wonderful man and obviously as you said had written produced and recorded so many people’s favorite albums and singles and he really has had an amazing career. When we started working with him were freaking out. It was initially meant to be a writing session that was a two day writing session that was put together by our publishers and we went in and he was the resident producer at the Henson Recording Studios for the Henson Studios for 15 years so even getting to be in that room with him was so cool. The two days that then turned into him saying; “come in again let’s keep writing, let’s make another song” and then that turned into him committing into the album which is before we even signed a record deal.

He was really excited about the project, we spent five or six months writing and recording with him. He is more than our producer, he’s a dear friend. He feels like family. I think the process of writing and recording an album really bonds you with someone in a unique way. We feel really fortunate. He really helped take what we had created and what we had already built Cardiknox to be and helped elevate it to that next level, that’s what a great producer does. I think that’s what a great producer can really add to your project.

Mary:
Cool. I hate asking this question because it’s always different – how is it working as a duo…creative relationships can be difficult and lots of personalities in a band – how do you balance it?

Lonnie:

How do we balance being in a band? I think like running any business, you are in a relationships and especially a creative relationship is a balancing act. I think the biggest and most important thing that you can keep in the top of mind is a neutral respect for one another. I think Thomas and I have a tremendous amount of respect for one another and ultimately that’s what will help us to keep working. Normally we butt heads and don’t see eye-to-eye, it’s about finding those moments of compromise where you’re willing to let the other person win even if you don’t necessarily think they’re right and knowing that eventually it will come back around and see how it will bounce out. I think it’s about sharing the commonality, the common goal, the common … the dream, the hope the sunset in the distance that you’re both marching towards together and then having respect for one another. When you keep those things top of mind, it’s do-able, not to say that it’s easy but it’s fun and it’s totally do-able.

Mary:
You guys are awesome – I can’t wait to see you at Capitol Hill Block Party.

Lonnie:

Thank you, come and say hi, please.

Lonnie:

Thank you, thanks for the chat.

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