You’ve got to have a sense of humor in life. Better yet, you have to be able to laugh at yourself.
To understand the humor, you have to understand Toledo. A NYC based project of lifelong friends and writing partners Daniel Álvarez de Toledo and Jordan Dunn-Pilz, their music has been referred to as everything from Brooklyn surf pop / beach goth to intimate and inviting, with soft reverberant guitar layers and lo-fi nostalgia. Their personable charisma, beyond-their-years technical abilities, and enduring love for each other are palpable in their songs and dynamic 5-piece live performances.
Having broken ground with their DIY 2019 debut EP Hotstuff, their easy paced, danceable titletrack single along with the woozy, acoustic guitar driven “Qué Pasa?”propelled Hotstuff to 1.8+ million Spotify streams. The two followed that up with the dreamy stand-alone single “Lovely” in March of this year which has already pushed up to 80k+ Spotify streams in just four months.
Wanting to move forward from that, the band found themselves in the same quandary as every other musical outfit in the world: Covid. Being based in NYC, the original coronavirus epicenter in the US, the guys had to react quicker than the rest of the country. Their reaction? Get the hell out of dodge. So, they packed their bags and took off for home, the not-too-far-away land of Newburyport, MA thinking / hoping things would come under control in the not-too-distant future.
Not so much.
“We left our apartment in NYC to come home during the pandemic,” says Dunn-Pilz. “When we realized we were going to be home for much longer than the two weeks we had packed for, we got busy jamming on new material.”
The product of those writing sessions just a few months ago are now available on Bandcamp along with the rest of their discography + unreleased demos. Led by the song “FOMO,” the tune pokes fun at quarantine lifestyle while simultaneously expressing a genuine desire to be more present. With a propulsive, time-shifting beat, memorable vocal melodies, and the twosome’s signature splash of whimsy, the song explores the mental ups and downs of quarantine.
“This was one of the first songs written in that time. Lyrically, “FOMO” is very much about that first month in quarantine. I think a lot of people struggled finding ways to center themselves in the chaos of March/April, and things like at-home-yoga became really popular. This song pokes fun at the trend, but also acknowledges our participation in it, and recognizes a genuine desire to be more present in the moment.”
“We created a make-shift studio in the attic of Daniel’s family home. We have an old Tascam tape machine we used to track drums/guitars and used one-take vocals recorded on an sm57. The solo that happens post chorus is a heavily affected guitar doing its best Fleetwood Mac impression. Apparently, we like to add lots of snaps and claps and voicemails to all of our songs as well.
Each an incredibly talented songwriter in his own right, the guys both adhere to the notion that they write best when they are writing together. Ironically, they point in drastically different directions when asked about the songwriters they admire most or favorite lyrics of all time.
“I really admire Sophie Allison of Soccer Mommy and would kill to work with her one day,” says Jordan. “She tells a great story but always with a sense of laidback “cool” that feels both relatable and untouchable.”
Daniel has an entirely different answer. “Oh man, I really admire Christian Lee Hudson at the moment. His ability to be blunt and literal with his lyrics writing and then follow it with more ethereal guitar parts and melodies is breathtaking.”
And as for the lyrics?
“Mine is definitely Jordan’s least favorite lyric ever,” says Daniel as he quotes a line by The Weepies. “I’m the new chicken clucking open hearts and ears.”
As for Jordan?He goes the Sheryl Crow route. “This is too hard. I don’t have diddly squat.”
Not afraid to laugh or have fun, Dunn-Pilz is adamant that’s the ultimate goal, which in reality should be the mantra for everyone in whatever they do in life. Get better. Have fun.
“I feel like the goal is always to catch up to our own musical taste, which is usually one step ahead. Ideally when you get more experienced your taste gets more refined, and that in turn leads to better creative output? So, I guess the goal is to get better? Idk…to have fun and make people happy!
“If people are walking around feeling better about themselves and their intentions for the day after listening to FOMO, that’d be pretty sweet.”
A footnote but equally as important as the music itself, 100% of the proceeds from the Bandcamp package will be donated to the Black Lives Matter movement.