New Jersey's Very Own, Ocean Heights
Updated: Dec 24, 2018
Some songs fall off after a month and others stay around for a lifetime. 'Come And Hang For A Minute' is still making ripples.
This month we feature Ocean Heights, an emerging group from New Jersey fusing indie pop with R&B and on the cusp of releasing their second full-length LP in 2019.
They've undergone subtle transformations since their debut EP in 2015. Their first video "Bound to Fall" is an acoustic single of the EP, harkening back to the bands' roots in the Philly house show scene. Fast-forward two years to their 2017 video release for "No Waves." Directed by Chicago creative Kristina Pederson, they added keys, drums, bass, and wavy, chorus-washed guitars and set the tone for a full band experience.
And now? They're most recent release is 'Come and Hang for a Minute,' a single that nods to more R&B influences with a trap kit replacing live drums, lush electric keyboard pads, and a tasteful guitar. Singer and founder Justin Wilkerson's vocals reach a new refined place, brimming with confidence, style, and swag.
The band is not only sonically evolving into a dynamic, cross-genre pop force, but they also finished up their first tour of the east coast late September. More new music from them is expected in the last months of the year. Stay tuned!
What are all your listening backgrounds?
We all listen to just about everything, just as I type out these answers were listening to Tha Carter 5 but when I throw my Apple Music on shuffle you’ll hear anything from Marvin Gaye to Ween. I think our openness to every kind of music is what separates us from a lot of bands.
Explain the progression of the Ocean Heights sound.
When I first started seriously writing songs we were on some very sad boy emo acoustic type stuff but as we got older all I was really listening to was R&B and rap. I just wanted to figure out how to mix the indie rock that I was bumping in high school with the modern experimental R&B artists that I fell in love with. Frank Ocean and Post Malone were definitely big inspirations there. So if you compare the Flight EP and our first EP you’ll see what we’re going for.
“Come and hang for a minute”is your newest single. Was it intentional to make something this poppy or was it by accident and you knew where to take it once it got to a certain point? Cuz a lot of your early stuff sounds different then come hang.
Come and Hang was definitely our biggest jump in sound of any project yet. I was really inspired by Childish Gambino and the episode of “Atlanta” with black Justin Bieber. I always wanted to make fun music like this, I just didn’t know how to do it with our own sauce yet. It’s really important to me that all of our songs don’t really sound like anyone else.
Do you remember writing come hang? If so, could you dissect how you did so? Chronologically, what came first?
I just had the hook for come and hang for like months. I knew it was super catchy but I couldn’t write a verse I was satisfied with it because I’m always super hard on myself about having super deep introspective lyrics like my favorite writers (Frank Ocean, Ben Gibbard). One day I just free-styled the verse that actually is the final verse and after listening to the voice memo on repeat for days worth of car rides I came to the conclusion that not every song needs to be a lyrical masterpiece. Come and Hang is just a fun song to dance to. Once I accepted that it was easy.
Diving more into melody, where do most of your melodic ideas stem from? Are there certain artists who you follow and continue to refer back to? Or do you think melody comes from a different place?
We pull melodies from everywhere and anywhere, that’s what music is all about to us. A lot of our favorite melodies were just mistakes or stuff we made on the spot and cleaned up later in the studio.
Do you find being in a band and sharing “the creative” makes songs lean a certain way compared to writing by yourself?
I think if I didn’t have a band I’d never finish any songs. Our strategy is usually I’ll cook up a demo that’s like a simplified idea. It’ll usually have an obnoxious amount of trap hi hats and clipping kick drums. I’ll show it to the homies and we’ll just jam on top of it and whenever someone does something that makes us all make the stank face we just record it and add it in. After some mixing and adding some more trap hats we’ve got a banger.
What’s on the horizon? New singles? Album? Tour?
Right now we’re just trying to figure everything out. We’re just getting our feet wet as far as touring and playing shows regularly so I want to focus on staying consistent with that. We’re on tour right now and we’re planning to tour the Midwest during the winter. We’re shooting a music video for Come and Hang with an amazing director so I’m super excited to put that out soon. Other than that we’re going to put songs out in small doses throughout the next year. It takes us forever to make EPs so we’d rather just put the songs out as they come for now.
Anything else you want to tell the people?
To the people reading this and who support us: we love you all. Every one of y’all warms our collective heart and we’re doing the stuff I used to dream about and we’re just getting started.