Music Feature: Crystal Cities

Introducing Crystal Cities; Australian dream rock band made up of Geoff Rana (vocal/guitar), Jared King (Bass/Vocals) and Dan Conte (Drums/Percussion). Taking it back to the days of jamming and recording in their mates garage all the way to London’s Abbey Road Studios, definitely shows how this trio’s hard work over the last couple of years has paid off.

Having recently released their debut album ‘Under the Cold Light of the Moon’, Geoff and Dan kindly spared some time to delve into their music, from how they formed and their creative process to the significance of their new single and what recording at Abbey Road Studios really meant to them. Not to mention securing a records/publishing deal with Audio Network, working alongside Paul Lani, and a seriously impressive music video to accompany Under the Cold Light of the Moon.

I would just like to take a moment to give big claps to these guys for acknowledging and responding to Yeonmi Park’s story. For those who don’t know about this please click here for more info.

Providing us with a truly insightful look into their lives, and some worthy advice - i highly recommend giving this a read, whilst blasting Crystal Cities and basking under the (fittingly) July new moon.

Hey, how is 2019 treating you?
Great, releasing our debut album, what could be better…!!

Dan: 2019 has been great! It’s been busy as we have just released our debut album ‘Under The Cold Light Of The Moon’ and we have also finished up on a run of shows. But there’s plenty more to do in a year.

For those who haven’t heard of you, how did you guys meet and how would you best describe Crystal Cities?
Jared and myself met at University studying music and Dan came via the obligatory musicians wanted ad…. ( or did he…? maybe it was his calling, the universe directed him to us in fulfilling his destiny…)

Dan: Crystal Cities is best described as ‘Dream Rock’; we have a neat drum and bass rhythm section which is backed by dreamy reverb-drenched guitars and vocals. In terms of bands that we sound like and love, it would have to be artists like The War On Drugs, The National, Eskimo Joe and Foals.

And who dubbed you ‘Crystal Cities’?
Geoff: That would be me, Geoff. Crystal Cities is a vision of the future when we all live in a world based on peace and harmony,… Like a sci fi futuristic world… The cities are made from crystal that helps in balancing societies centric energy.

It’s been 2 years since your hit EP ‘Who's Gonna Save Us Now’ was released, but you’ve returned with another killer new single ‘Under the Cold Light of the Moon’. Can you delve into the creative process behind making this track?
The track was written after listening to Yeonmi Park’s story of her escape from North Korea through the Gobi desert and the emotional challenges she faced to gain freedom.

Dan: Thank you! It all starts with Geoff who comes up with composing a song and having a certain vision for the track. The song gets sent out to Jared and I to listen to and then we will get together to collaborate and try out different parts and put our own ideas and influences on the song. It was a really smooth way of putting together this song. We really love it and are stoked with the way it has turned out.

From recording in your mate’s garage to Abbey Road Studios, how does it feel to have had this opportunity?
Geoff: It was really surreal. Walking into Studio 2 at Abbey Road was a very hyper sensory experience. The room hasn’t changed since the time of the recordings of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, etc etc. The smell of the room and being present in that space was just amazing, There is a burn mark on the floor were john Lennon apparently put out his cigarette. Haha.

Dan: It was honestly very special to have this opportunity and something that we will remember for the rest of our lives.

Congratulations on securing a records and publishing deal with Audio Network! What does this mean for the band?
Geoff: It has given us the opportunity to keep working towards making original music our career, to be able to reach a wider audience through mediums such as Tv and Film, and to record in places like Abbey Road.

Who takes ownership of the lyrics and dreamy melody, or is it a combined effort between the whole band?
The Lyrics are something I work on really hard after I have composed the melody, it can be something that becomes really intricate; changing out single words and sentences a million times before arriving on what I want to say.

Dan: Geoff our singer certainly takes ownership of the lyrics and melody. Jared the bass player who is an incredible musician has valuable input which helps the songs be the best they can.

Under the Cold Light of the Moon was inspired by Yeonmi Park, the young north Korean girl who escaped in search of freedom. Why did you choose to create a song about this?
After watching her speech I guess the reality is that I/we live in a world where a 13 year old girl has to fight for freedom, crossing a desert with a knife willing to kill herself for it…. The emotional impact that had on me made me want to compose something that reflected that emotion….

And what significance does it hold?
Geoff: Some freedoms we have in the West are taken as a given while in other parts of the world you have to fight for them…… It puts things into perspective when going about your day to day existence. Maybe next time you’re having a bad day, think about a 13 year old trying to escape oppression through the desert willing to take her own life for it…

Dan: I think it is significant as it is a situation that you just couldn’t imagine being in. We are quite lucky to not have to go through such an experience that Yeonmi Park had to. So the song is significant in the way that it is a reminder to us that we need to be compassionate and understanding of people who are fleeing their country to seek safety and a better life. I encourage people to look into Yeonmi Park and her story.

Having the opportunity to record at Abbey Road Studios, also meant capturing sounds of a string orchestra, flowing throughout the title track. This is a pretty proud moment for you all I’m sure, can you further on this?
Geoff: Writing the basic string arrangements in my bedroom on my laptop, I never dreamed i would be hearing a full string orchestra playing them back to me from Studio 2 in Abbey Road in London. Haha. Just saying that now even feels surreal…… The session musicians were amazing and hearing this wall of sound coming at you was something you can only experience standing in that room. I think we did a good job translating that onto the record.

Dan: Yeah it sure was. The string orchestra really takes the track to another level. It was something that we had envisaged for ‘Under The Cold Light Of Moon‘ and to be able to hear the track back once it had been recorded was an extremely proud moment for us all.

I am so intrigued to know what it was like to work with Paul Lani? Who is such a renowned engineer in this industry, having worked with David Bowie, Prince and Megadeath to name a few.
When you’re talking to Paul Lani you would never know that he has a list as long as my arm of massive credits to his name… He is such a humble guy and was so accommodating when listening to our mix suggestions. He worked so hard on achieving the best mix for each track. We actually started out mixing the album in a totally different direction which was more dreamy, and less focus on the guitars… But then we realised we were missing the energy of the songs so Paul literally started again and mixed with a more edgy indie vibe. So, in a way, Paul mixed the album twice… What a legend..!!

A long time in the making but the accompanying video clip is seriously impressive. Who created this animated video?
Dan: It is an amazing film clip and I encourage everyone to watch this video. Jordyn-Rae Morrison created it and she honestly did a fantastic job. She hand drew all of the slides on the video which would have taken a huge amount of time. But her dedication and hard work really shows as the video goes hand in hand with the message of the song and brings the song to life.

The biggest influence/s to your music? 
Great songwriters, bands , producers, society, life events.

Dan: The War On Drugs, The National, Foals and The Beatles to name a few. For me personally I would also have to say Eskimo Joe and Powderfinger.

Advice for those starting out in the music industry?
Keep writing, always have material, and keep evolving your craft.

Dan: You have to be involved in music because you love it. It can be easy to get caught up in the status quo or the sound of the day but it is really important to make the music you love and to keep your identity when starting out in the industry.

What’s next for Crystal Cities?
Geoff: The next album is written so we are starting to plan where and with who we will record that with…

Dan: We plan to play some shows a little later in the year so keep your eyes peeled for that. There’ll be a whole lot more music videos including live videos of the band playing tracks from the debut album. To keep in touch make sure you have us on the socials. If you subscribe to our VIP Fan Club at you will be the first to know about what’s happening all things Crystal Cities.