Not a lot of people have heard of the local band High Fantasy—but that’s likely to change in the upcoming year.
Orlando Welsh and Ryan Jovian, both of whom were in the now-defunct rock/electronic band Metroid, have been creating an interesting blend of indie-rock and dance music, including releasing some material on SoundCloud.
During a recent interview with Welsh in Cathedral City, he explained why he and Jovian took their music in a different direction.
“A lot of it had to do with Ryan,” Welsh said. “He has a completely different music taste than I do. He’s an indie-rocker, and I kind of tend to lean more toward pop music and punk rock. He’s always had the coolest music collection of anyone I know. So he came up to me and said, ‘Hey, man, I have this idea for this band; you just have to trust me.’
“Before, in our old band … we’d have to do everything together, but I said, ‘Why don’t you take the reins, and let’s see what you’ve got.’ That’s how the sounds for this came up. He just wanted to try something different, and he plays just about any instrument, and he’s very heavy on the keyboard and production. He started bringing songs, and we started putting lyrics to them. Before, we’d sit there with a full band, and we’d be like, ‘What do you think, drummer? What do you think, guitar-player?’ … Five people trying to come up with an idea take a bit longer, or there’s a lot of conflict.”
I asked Welsh if he missed playing stuff with more of a rock edge.
“Not really, because this is really fun. … I’m still playing bass, and I’m still singing,” Welsh said. “Ryan is playing guitar, and his guitar is heavily distorted; he has a My Bloody Valentine-loud guitar. It’s also heavy on the keyboard and the electronics. It’s a blend of both.
“I love electronic music, and bands like Reggie and the Full Effect, and how he incorporates rock, Moog sounds and synthesizers. (Before), we were mainly a punk rock band, and it was fast, and sometimes you miss that. I miss it because the music was fresh back then, and it was uncharted territory. There was this place not too far from here called Bobby C’s that we’d play at, and it was always exciting. I guess everybody misses the days when they were young.”
Welsh said High Fantasy is on the cutting edge, much like Metroid was back in the day.
“Everyone was into the ‘screamo’ thing. We were heavy into synthesizers,” he said. “We were more dance-y, and the disco beat was really prevalent in the music, but the keyboards were always there. We’d show up to shows, and they’d be like, ‘You have keyboards? What are all these keyboard noises going on?’ … We were doing that before that stuff got popular, and we stood out. We’d show up, and there would be a hardcore band playing, and we’d have to win the audience over. Sometimes, people didn’t like us and would ask us, ‘What is this gay music you’re playing?’ We’d end up playing in gay clubs, too, and we had gay fans, so they embraced us. We played one show where we stripped down to our underwear onstage, and I had this leopard-print bikini on. If you Google it, you might be able to find a photo of me from that show.”
Welsh said he understands there are many different segments in the local music scene—but that there is more togetherness now than there was 10 to 15 years ago.
“I grew up in Palm Springs. Palm Springs always had more of a dance scene to it, and I think Indio has a good dance scene to it also,” Welsh said. “Palm Desert, not so much, and that’s more of a heavy town, where it feels like you have to come with a 7-string guitar—but I love all that kind of music. … Universally, I believe the valley has become more of a whole because of the Internet and Facebook, and you can see what’s going on with bands now. You hear about a show, and you can watch the show from someone’s Facebook Live footage. There are more dance clubs in Palm Springs, like Toucan’s, Hunters and places like that.”
Welsh and Jovian have spent a lot of time recording. Welsh said he loves how easy it is nowadays.
“Recording is a lot of fun. Ryan has been building his recording rig for years now, and it’s portable,” Welsh said. “He has it down to a science now to where he uses an iPad, and has pre-amps in a really nice microphone. We set it up in my living room or his sound booth at home. It’s so easy now. … We’ll sit there and track for hours or days until we get it right. It’s awesome, because you don’t have to spend a lot of money in a studio. Our drums are built digitally. … A traditional drum room would cost you a ton of money to get it done. We like being able to do it ourselves.”
High Fantasy has big plans in 2018.
“We’re releasing songs and videos. We’ve gotten to the point where we can make our own videos,” he said. “My brother got into making videos and filmmaking and bought a nice setup. He learned how to use it in a fast amount of time. We just do it all ourselves. Sometime in 2018, we’re going to start playing shows and touring. We wanted to have content out first and build a fan base online first so we’re not playing some bar to five people, which can be discouraging.”
For more information on High Fantasy, visit www.hghfntsy.com.