By Michael Aushenker
Last month, the musical combo Dúo del Sol partied at O’Brien’s Pub on Main Street in Santa Monica – with good reason. Fresh off their performance at the Santa Monica Pier, they were celebrating their successful crowd-funding campaign to finance their first full-length album, “Hello Kaleidoscope,” which drops Tuesday, Sept. 17.
“We set out to get $12,000,” guitarist Tom Farrell said. “We pulled in about $18,000.”
Farrell and violinist Javier Orman – the “duo” in Dúo del Sol – spent many hours in the studio fine-tuning their sound, a mix of world, jazz and art-rock music, at Beacon Street Studios in Venice.
“There are songs that we sing but it’s kind of mostly instrumental,” said Orman, who promises their forthcoming album, “Hello Kaleidoscope,” will be “intense and violent at times. Our first EP had that hard-hitting rhythmic groove that we do.”
Both musicians live locally – Farrell in Venice, Orman in Santa Monica – but originally hail from outside of California. Born in Israel and raised in the artsy port city of Montevideo, Uruguay, Orman lists, among his influences Radiohead’s “Exit Music” and Gustav Mahler’s symphonies. Meanwhile, Chicagoan Farrell grew up weaned on Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Metallica and The Cult.
“These were my first obsessions and led me to want to play guitar,” said Farrell, who, in lieu of a real guitar, constructed one out of a tennis racket and rubber bands as a youth. Farrell later became obsessed with composers Igor Stravinsky, Bela Bartok and Gyorgy Ligeti. The pair met in late 2010 while working at a Santa Monica-based nonprofit school, Sol-LA Music Academy.
“We started getting together casually and we worked from there,” Orman said. “We’ve definitely been influenced by dance music, from Manu Chau to electronic music. We both have been Radiohead fans.”
“Thom Yorke is just one of my idols,” Orman continued of the English art-rock group. “I love his solo CD (2006’s “The Eraser”). How he’s so free. We live in a post-genre era. He and the rest of the Radiohead guys have kind of led that a bit.”
By early 2011, Farrell and Orman had formed their own act and came up with their name, riffing off of their place of work and something “reminiscent of (innovative rap act) De La Soul,” Farrell explained.
“We crossed paths (at a time) when we both had masters in music and we have both traveled a bit,” Orman said.
Collectively, they forged a single voice in Dúo del Sol.
“We’re community-made,” said Farrell. “People from all backgrounds tell us how much our music has moved and changed them, and they feel they are a part of our group.”
In the summer of 2011 their writing process flourished.
“All those influences started to come out,” Orman said.
“I continuously discover new sounds and new ways of approaching this instrument,” Farrell said. “The guitar in Dúo del Sol is the drum set, the bass, the cello and the mandolin.”
They have already played such venues as The Edison in downtown Los Angeles, the King-King and the Witzend in Venice. They’ve since performed concerts in Chicago, Denver and San Francisco.
Farrell loves Venice’s bohemian vibe and artistic bent.
“Venice was one of the reasons I wanted to move to Los Angeles to begin with,” said Farrell, who has lived in Venice for six years.
The Talking Stick on Lincoln Boulevard is a spot where Farrell’s musical instruction business, Tom Farrell Music, has often held its teen rock band showcases.
“It’s great for the kids,” Farrell said. “They get nervous but they get to perform (in a real venue).”
Orman loves the coastal communities in which he lives and circulates through.
“It reminds me a lot of home (in South America),” he said of Santa Monica and Venice. “It’s a very artsy city and an anti-establishment place where art has flourished. Everybody seems to be here. I just love talking to people in other art forms. There are so many great photographers and great artists we have met here.”
Up next for Dúo del Sol: some extensive touring. The pair will play in El Salvador in November, a visit to Brazil is in the works, and Europe is also in their sights.
Orman firmly believes that their music will follow a trajectory not unlike heroes Radiohead and Bjork: savvy usage of trending new technological platforms. Bjork, for example, created a mobile app “that is amazing,” according to Orman. “It takes you on a visual adventure through each song.
“We have barely touched the surface on iPads,” he continued, “and these devices and how much we can express through them.”
Another direction Orman and Farrell see themselves exploring is providing scores for films.
“Things are changing,” Orman said. “I’m not pessimistic. I feel that there’s a lot in store and it’s kind of exciting. There’s so much potential of things to be done.”
“People still wonder sometimes what to make of us,” Farrell said of his eclectic, multi-cultural act.
Truth be told, he and Orman probably wouldn’t want to have it any other way.