The Natural Synthetic have mastered the online, long-distance creative process. From the West Coast, producer Juan Ariza chatted with EARMILK over Zoom (with a Star Wars virtual background), while Miette Hope, the second half of the band, joined via Ariza’s phone on speaker, though she was unable to maintain a connection to our Zoom out in the Pennsylvania countryside. Their debut single "Nervous" exists in a more orthodox realm of pop but their second single "Sacrifices" showcases a new side of the band—an exciting new offering full of playful guitar melodies and a bass-heavy, glitched-out chorus that send listeners on a rollercoaster ride.
“Sacrifices” is a testament to the Natural Synthetic's DIY spirit and their ability to take something rough and polish it into something that shines. The vocal take was originally recorded as a voice memo on Hope’s iPhone. From there, Ariza worked his production magic, morphing the simple track with side chain, bass, and drums, to form something unexpected but fitting for the push and pull of emotions in Hope's lyrics.
“[‘Sacrifices’] came about because the reason my ex and I broke up is because I was kind of seeking more freedom,” explains Hope. She never wanted a committed relationship. When an open relationship turned into a closed one, she found herself turning introspectively for answers. “Sacrifices” comes to the conclusion that even though this breakup will be painful for both sides, it will be worth the hurt for the independence and freedom waiting on the other side. “When I listen to the chorus [of ‘Sacrifices’] I feel that freedom that I was looking for,” she says.
Ariza has assisted in co-writing many of Hope’s own personal breakup songs. Through these shared intimate songwriting sessions, their music ultimately becomes an outlet for cathartic release. But not all their music is meant for lonely hearts. They also look to keep themselves excited with fresh new concepts that challenge the typical songwriting model. “I think we’re both big fans of pulling the rug for listeners,” says Ariza. “In a way, desire and sacrifices are basically antonyms. In the verse, you are in this place where it sits in a weird R&B-but-not-really, Troye Sivan, modern pop-inspired thing, and when we go into the chorus there’s sort of a release. It’s tight, side-chain, bass-heavy, into this Daft Punk-inspired thing.”
Ariza also edited the accompanying music video for “Sacrifices,” a process, he says, is not dissimilar from editing music. Since the album art borrows from the period table’s “S” for sulfur, the video footage is drenched in a sulfurous yellow. Footage of Hope and Ariza on their opposite coasts is superimposed over glitching and dripping yellow footage and overlaid with footage that, like their sound, is both natural and synthetic in nature.
“Our name literally defines our sound,” explains Hope. “We love natural sounds but we also love synthetic sounds. We love manipulating the sounds to be something new. I think what we really want our sound to be is something that feels really fresh but also feels familiar.” The Natural Synthetic has a lineup of upcoming singles waiting in the wings. Their next track is called “Blind,” and it’s due to be released sometime in October.