In Different Sounds is an indie rock band hailing from southern New Jersey and Philadelphia. With their keytar, warm harmonies, and eclectic arrangements, IDS have no problem standing out from the crowd.
Patrick Downey (Bass/Vocals/Cello) and Kate Kozak (Vocals/Piano/Keytar) sat down with me and told me all about the inner workings of their band.
How did your band form?
Patrick: In the fires of Mount Doom. (Kidding). Lucas [guitarist] and I met at work. It didn’t take long for me to recognize him as a fellow Magic: The Gathering player. We have a wild, desperate look. He told me his friend, Kate, had taught him, and we became fast friends. After mostly playing Magic together, Lucas and I realized we both wrote music. We started teaching each other our songs in my living room; I played bass, he played guitar. It was fun. We joked around about finding a drummer, but we never really took steps to make it happen.
Kate was the one who found hooked us a drummer and really got this started in earnest (our first drummer didn’t last. They never do, I assume). I was skeptical of adding keyboards to our infant band, but my feelings turned out to be pretty dumb. Kate is awesome. Keys are awesome. She really made it happen, and still holds our sorry asses together to this day.
Who are your biggest influences/inspirations? How did you find your sound?
Patrick: We all write music for the band, so I’ll just list a few of my biggest influences: The Smiths, Elliott Smith, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill and David Bowie have all had a huge impact on how I write and listen to music. I like songs about disconnection and self-deception. I also like music that starts off simple or plain, and builds slowly or explodes suddenly. Those artists do one or both of those really well. I love a song that tells a story.
I was really into Irish folk music in high school and a lot of the storytelling and wordplay stuck with me. I’ve never heard a sadder melody than in an Irish ballad. And I’m a sucker for a sad song. As far as bass influences, songs that have interesting and dynamic bass parts are always the most fun for me, so I try to jam that in whenever they let me.
Kate: I feel that obvious band influences are Modest Mouse, Brand New, Interpol, Company of Thieves and some indie bands we really enjoy, like Alex G and our friends Moon Days. We love Fleetwood Mac, St. Vincent, and Alanis Morrisette. I hear Green Day, The Decemberists and Incubus in a lot of our music. None of the bands we’ve loved live recently thrash about or do stage theatrics. We are all musicians and love the look of concentrated players focusing on stage to create music.
We love bands like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Moody Blues who share vocal responsibility and experiment with sound design. We want our audience to focus on our arrangements, melody, and lyrics, and not us flailing and jumping around on a tiny stage. So, we love poised and focused bands who love profound musicianship.
What is it like being in the DIY scene? Does your location play a role?
Patrick: Philadelphia is a great place for music, and there are a ton of really good (and not so good) bands. This is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, there are a ton of venues that you can book and play at with relative ease, and you get to meet a lot of very nice and talented (and not so talented) people. Everyone is generally very cool. On the other hand, there’s just so much noise out there that you really have to stand out and get lucky to get noticed. And I’m not saying we’re even there. There’s a lot of playing for just the other bands and the bartender. It can be discouraging.
Kate: The DIY scene is very fun and seems to be a community that more famous bands remember being a part of and miss. The Philly DIY and indie scene is VERY STRONG. There are lots of social media groups dedicated to helping others network, book, and promote. Doing everything yourself (once you learn over many years what goes into projects of this magnitude) is extremely exciting. It’s your vision coming to life entirely with your own pocket and imagination.
I personally feel that there is no excuse to struggle with finding musical opportunities in Philly. There’s is always a band looking for a band to book a show with them or help them on tour. Someone is always searching for an instrumentalist or looking to do live music, photography, or video. We turn down shows all the time – if we took every opportunity we were offered, we’d be performing twice a week! Our bandmates all have day jobs, other musical projects, or are in grad school, so we have to turn down offers! How exciting!
What are the benefits of forming now as opposed to in college?
Patrick: Honestly, not many. Kate has a house, which is good for practicing. I wouldn’t have had a place to put a drum set in college that’s for sure. We all work a lot which makes it pretty hard to find time when we can all come together and write or practice. In college I had a lot more free time. Also, in college you are right in the middle of a wonderful market. College kids are willing to go to some dirty basement and spill beer on each other just to party. And if there happens to be a band playing some of them actually listen and care about what you are trying to create. In a bar, playing to strangers is much harder.
What is your new album going to be like?
Patrick: Our new record, Whale Jail, is going to hopefully be more cohesive and confident. Muscat Sessions is really just four songs written by four different people. As we continued to work together, we have definitely collaborated much more on how we want each song to sound. It can be intimidating at first to offer suggestions about another person’s work, and it can be scary to let other people change your vision. But we continue to get better at doing both. Also, there will be cello (hopefully).
Where do you want to take this group, career wise?
Patrick: While it would be great be able to make a living writing and performing, I won’t be holding my breath. All I want is to write music that I am proud of with people I like. And I have been doing that pretty well so far.
Kate: Of Lucas, Patrick and myself, the main band members, I have a degree in music composition from The University of the Arts and have the most instrumental and recording experience. I have an overflowing private music lesson studio in NJ, so music is already my career! It’s very rare to be able to make a full living between three people playing original music.
We will continue to focus on promoting our bands and climbing the venue ladder, perhaps having some songs placed in radio, tv or movies, or opening for larger acts. We recently got a sponsorship with Grow the Scene, an indie promotion group out of Philly, so we can hopefully make enough money now at all of our performances to simply fund our albums, new equipment, travels, potential touring and merchandise. A full-time career does not need to blossom out of our current band construct.
In what ways have you seen yourselves grow in your musical careers?
Patrick: Playing in a band has made me more open to trying things and listening to music that I might have looked down upon when I was younger. I have a tendency to make snap decisions about certain artists or styles or even instruments that stick with me for years. Sometimes, I realize that I’m just being stubborn about something, and I can change my mind. When that happens, it feels like growth. Other times I can’t be moved, and I think that might be OK too. I still can’t stand the sound of a clarinet on its own.
Kate: Everyone has learned major lessons about networking, booking shows, stage presence, intended audiences, balancing composition and jam time, communicating with each other and realizing our vision for what In Different Sounds is and wants to be and could be. We try constantly to accept constructive criticism and feedback!
What are your favorite places and songs to perform?
Patrick: My favorite place I’ve played is probably Underground Arts. The dark basement feel is sweet and the sound is really good. There’s cool lighting and interesting stuff hanging around. It just feels good to be up there. My favorite show we’ve played is probably upstairs at World Cafe Live with our sister-band Moon Days. We both brought a ton of people out and it always feels good to play in front of a large enthusiastic crowd.
My favorite song to play is “Pretty in Pale” because I’m selfish. I wrote most of it and sing the whole time, and it has a very powerful ending that I get a lot of enjoyment out of belting. When people sing along it feels like magic.
Kate: We also love World Cafe Live, although the sound is only okay in the upstairs stage, hearing yourself sing on stage is always an issue with loud electric instruments. I enjoyed the Barbary as well.