STORY BY / ANGIE PICCIRILLO
PHOTOGRAPHY / MALLORY TURNER
The beginnings for the band Sleep State were humble as you can guess — spawning from the potent Orange County rock scene back in 2013, where they began as a duo. After growing into a trio, Troy Ritchie (guitar, lead vocals), Michael Haua (keyboard, vocals) and Parker Jackson (drums), the group has experienced much success in the world of sync — having had their tunes appear anywhere from Starbucks’ playlists, to appearing on MTV’s Teen Mom 2 and ABC’s Nashville. More recently, their tune, “Make a Move” appeared on CBS’s “Bull,” while, “Tether” hit 600,000 plays on Spotify. However, despite these successes, you still may not recognize them as a household name — yet, that is.
Their newest single, “Awkward” is a sonic oxymoron — in that it’s sound carries the pep and frivolity of an 80’s tune by The Clash with just a dash of “Bleachers-esque” vibes; but its’ subject matter evokes the sense of social anxiety and is said to be “relatable to anyone who recalls adolescence as a time of petty drama or isolation.” Perhaps that’s why at first listen it seems it could have been a featured song on any John Hughes’ film soundtrack, or you might have mistakenly think it’s a poppy vintage Depeche Mode B-side you never knew all the words to.
The song’s most interesting ‘fun fact’ is that is was produced by Jose Alcantar, who has worked with the likes of The Doobie Brothers and Kenny Chesney — which means if you’re any sort of classic rock fan, you can see why the band has their songs popping up practically everywhere.
The song is said to have been inspired by social anxiety, largely experienced by lead singer and guitarist Troy Ritchie in High School — primarily about a girl whom Ritchie, admittedly didn’t know very well but has nonetheless placed on a pedestal. “Awkward” is quite easily your newest teen-angst unrequited love anthem and undoubtedly will resonate with any who has ever been in love, or really just human.
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