Within the sunkissed rays that sprawl across the coastal city of Barcelona is where psychedelic outfit The Zephyr Bones found their last nexus to step into their final form. It was in 2012 when original founding members, Brian Silva and Jossip Tkalcic, took their instant musical connection and friendship and relocated from their hometown of Viña Del Mar, Chile, to the famed Spanish city in quest of music stardom. “We felt there were more opportunities there to fulfill this collective dream we’ve had since we were young to have a band that tours across countries and plays things like Primavera Sound,” Tkalcic, singer and guitarist of the band, tells Remezcla.
Once nestled into the bustling beach city, the band—in its original formation—worked on their first EP Wishes/Fishes in 2014, which marked them as foundational in nurturing the development of dream-pop in the indie rock genre of their local scene. However, the impact of their physical relocation is not something they forget to acknowledge when it comes to their creative process. “I really feel like geographic locations have a potent power over people on a subconscious level. The proximity to the beach always changes people’s mood. Whether you live in the cold, the heat, the mountains, the desert, or the jungle, it changes your lifestyle. It changes your perception, the way you think, and the way you look at the universe, and ultimately that is all going to shape your artistic vision,” he explains.
Change is not an unfamiliar concept to the band. Undergoing a few different formations throughout their years, it was in 2016 when they settled into their final and most current form completed with the final additions of drummer Marc López and bassist Carlos Ramos. In addition, this new formation led to the development of a new creation process during the recording of their second album that they attribute to a new exploration of sound.
While original founding members Silva and Tkalcic took the reins on composing most of their early music, their latest sounds are the by-product of the band trusting in their friendship and trajectory by incorporating input from every avenue of the members’ influences and style of playing. “We’re all very different,” Ramos notes. “One is very jazzy, one likes a lot of darkwave and techno, and someone else is very into the ‘80s. Our friendship makes the process much easier because we’re very aware of what the other person is trying to say. So everyone can just bring something different and it makes the end result totally unique.”
“Our friendship makes the [album creation] process much easier because we’re very aware of what the other person is trying to say. So everyone can just bring something different and it makes the end result totally unique.”
With waves of psychedelia meeting the foundational sands of dream pop, The Zephyr Bones surf the frontier of beach wave. “It was always in our imaginary, and our imaginary was always California. We always liked surf music, our aesthetic always depicted that of the beach and the psychedelic,” Tkalcic shares on their sonic inspiration. Further expanding on its inspiration, their nod to beach culture even embedded itself with a strong allusion right into their name. Tkalcic continues, “One day when we had initially met, Lords of Dogtown was playing on our TV and we were just like, ‘Wow, the zephyr team is so cool!’ We were very set on this plan that we were going to go to California, skate, start a band, and get a van. So when years passed and we were deciding what to name ourselves, The Zephyr Bones came to us.”
Their second full-length album, Neon Body, explores the evolution of a band that has undergone a series of changes from a physical location, band formation, and personal development in a new unprecedented world with a roiling, luminous, and tenacious ease. On their latest, the band maintains their sonic lineage in producing upbeat melodies with sunny dispositions while now leaning into a display of matured entry into darker themes within their lyricism. Living in a location that parallels beach and city, the psych-rock quartet aimed at refining a sound that mimicked the environment that surrounds them. “Our new album is a little less beach and a little more city. Our city is very sunny, but it also has a dark side that’s a bit more dangerous,” mentions Ramos.
Starting Neon Body a few years back and completing the project in October 2019, the plans laid out for their return were halted when met with the unexplainably tumultuous events of the global pandemic. Ramos reflects on this moment for the band: “The songs people are going to hear are new for them but are realistically now two or more years old for us. While we wanted it out in 2020, the reality was, we really couldn’t do anything. It was a bit complicated but now, little by little, we’re starting to see the light, so it’s great to finally be releasing the album.”
This dichotomy shines through with their latest collection that weaves between their established hazy dream-pop sound but incorporates heavier influences of melodic guitar riffs as heard in “Rocksteady” and “Celeste V,” catchy electronica synths found on “Sparks” and “Neon Lights,” and even moments of disco-tinged melodies like on “Verneda Lights.” The lyrics take a dive into a darker exploration of the human experience that they base on their own personal experiences. Tkalcic goes on to share: “On this album, we talk a lot about personal experiences that happen to also be universal topics. From romance to the chaos of city life, from loss to hope—you take these experiences and transform them into something beautiful. It’s about keeping it all as honest as possible.”
Marking a solid re-entrance for the band since their last full album release in 2017, we look towards what’s next for them. “It’s an alleviation to release the album, really. We’ve been so focused on the album for the last few years that getting this out now is very exciting, but also makes way for the new,” Ramos concludes.
Neon Body is out now. Listen below.