You know that band from your hometown that has run the underground scene since you were all teenagers? The band that everyone wants to know with shows no one wants to miss but somehow has yet to put out a record that gives you the evidence of their mystique? Well that was Decorator—only their hometown is Los Angeles and now they have the evidence.
“That is what we are trying to do right now. Just be good enough to belong here and then grow from there.” – Miles
Gentelman’s Sweep is an upbeat EP equipped with dance songs, alternative R&B and slow jams to boot. Miles Melendrez, one of three brothers that comprise Decorator along with Matthew Mumcian, croons satirical musings about the status quo of politics, sex and even the music industry itself. On songs like “Drunk On Chocolate Sunrise” he confronts the humility that follows the journey of an aspiring musician.
“When you haven’t “made it” yet, having support can be the one thing that keeps you going because human beings are very results orientated. So always remember to hype up the people you care about.”
But out of the years of DIY parties and unforgettable performances around their home niche of Silver Lake, came the need to define a sound. To create something to live outside of these underground rumblings. And that is when an unlikely collaboration came to play with dark indie-rock genius Lukas Frank and grammy award winning engineer Cassidy Turbin.
“Those guys brought a lot of focus and perfectionism to the project, but just as importantly, they brought a whole lot of joy.”
We were lucky enough to catch up with Decorator and chat about basketball, Los Angeles and the two year process that was finding their sound…
Loving the sounds you guys were able to capture on this EP. The first song “Drunk On Chocolate Sunrise” speaks to the humility of trudging along through the at times impenetrable music industry. I think any musician living in LA has had those disparaging moments. What keeps you motivated to keep going in those times?
Thank you so much! I know it sounds cliche, but it’s hard to know where we’d be without our friends and family. It seems like whenever we’ve been stuck in the mud or have had a long creative drought, there was always someone closeby hyping us up and telling us how much they missed our show. It’s been that way since the beginning. Whether it was our parents, friends, or passionate fanbase (however modest), we’ve had people in our corner helping us understand that there is something special about what we’ve been trying to do. When you haven’t “made it” yet, having support can be the one thing that keeps you going because human beings are very results orientated, and when results take long to show up, you wonder if they’re coming. So always remember to hype up the people you care about.
Being the exception to the abundance of LA transplants by actually growing up in LA, do you find you gain anything with your perspective? Have any of you ever felt the desire to get out of LA in spite of it being the Mecca of creatives?
So many musicians move to LA once they’ve outgrown smaller markets–usually bringing some degree of popularity with them. Our experience slugging it out in this city since the time we were kids definitely feels unique in contrast to most of our peers. It’s hard getting off the ground in Los Angeles where competition is abundant and talent is endless. In the past we’ve talked about moving places like Seattle and Berlin where we’d maybe be able to make a mark on the local scene a bit quicker and gain significant attention that way, but ultimately I think the competitive nature of the music industry in Los Angeles has forced us to just create better music and put on a better live show. At the end of the day, if you aren’t good enough to make it happen in LA from the ground up, chances are you wouldn’t have sustained success anyway. That is what we are trying to do right now. Just be good enough to belong here and then grow from there.
Was so excited to hear you worked with Lukas Frank. I’m a big fan of Lukas myself and was actually lucky enough to sing back-ups on his last single “After the Alphabets”. How did you guys come together?
That is super fucking awesome! It’s as small of a world as they say it is. Lukas played drums in Decorator for some years when we were first out of high school. We had mutual friends that went to LACHSA with him so that’s how we met. Lukas had spent a lot of time recording Storefront Church music more recently so he knew the studio process well. He also had a unique perspective of Decorator because he’d spent years in the band and years observing us from afar. He knew as well as us what we were trying to sound like on a record and had a better idea of how to accomplish that than us from his time with Cassidy.
How did working with Lukas and Cassidy Turbin affect the writing and recording process?
It affected the process a lot. I think those guys brought a lot of focus and perfectionism to the project, but just as importantly, they brought a whole lot of joy. A lot of the time in the studio was us just having fun and laughing our asses off about the dumbest shit. I think you need that in the process. Getting a song to the point where it’s ready to be released is not always fun work. Writing music and performing music is what we live for, but spending hours finding the right guitar tone or the right lyrics for the second verse of a song is tedious and mentally exhausting. If you can’t find a way to squeeze some joy out of it, your life is going to be tough sailing.
Your EP is named Gentleman’s Sweep, a basketball term about taking the championship in 5 games instead of 4. It was quite an impactful year for basketball fanatics with losing Kobe and the release of The Last Dance. How did these moments affect you guys and did you have any favorite moments of the documentary?
Yeah it was definitely a tough year for basketball fans. I think the moment the season shut down coincided with the pandemic really exploding in the States–or at least our awareness of it. It was great that they released The Last Dance early because it was just something to look forward to every week during those first few months when anxiety and isolation were 90% of our existence. There were some great moments in The Last Dance. MJ calling Larry Bird a bitch stands out lol. Anytime the security guard with jerry curls was on the screen was gold. Seinfeld getting kicked out of the Bulls locker room was great as well. Early quarantine was a good time to go back and watch old basketball games and reflect on some of Kobe’s career while doing so. Definitely watched all of the 2010 series against the Celtics amongst many others.
Gentleman’s Sweep is an upbeat EP full of dance songs and sarcastic musings about the status quo of politics, the music industry and sex. What is your dream vision for bringing this music to live audiences?
First we have to learn how to play all these songs live! But the minute it is safe to do so, we are trying to be back in front of crowds. It’s going to be special for sure and we’re hoping with Gentleman’s Sweep we can reach a whole lot of new people on board with Decorator. And we probably need a van. Cheers!
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photos / courtesy of artist
story / Chris Hess