Hermosa hails out of the musical oasis of Nashville, Tennessee. The relatively brand-new band is comprised of Gabrielle Hall on vocals and keys, Sean Thompson on guitar, Alex Haartnis on bass, and Danger Kilpatrick on drums. Despite only being a band since October 2012, Hermosa has already made great strides in the local music scene exciting audiences everywhere.
Hall, a seasoned lover of music, started the band out of a mutual love for music, life, and a need to express. Not wanting to be “just some girl who wrote some songs,” Hall desired the band feel and thusly formed Hermosa. The group is named for Hermosa, California, the homeland of Hall, but the moniker also takes on a different meaning when considering Hall’s past.
I am from Hermosa, California, and also I grew up in Mexico so I speak Spanish and that’s why I sing in Spanish. Hermosa means beautiful and so it reflects on a lot of locations that mean something to me such as California and Mexico and both those cultures. Then the music has a lot of Nashville elements and I am playing for my Nashville friends and it just seemed to fit,” said Hall.
The band members of Hermosa were brought together partly thanks to Adam Moult, lead singer of Bad Cop. When the fellow Nashville band went to Las Vegas to perform with Cage the Elephant, Hall tagged along and met two of her future band members.
We drove to Vegas so I got to know the guys pretty well. I just kind of fell in love with them. They are the sweetest. Danger and Alex (also of Bad Cop) are the ultimate duo, everything I could ask for,” Hall explained.
Thompson was added later when the two realized their wealth of mutual friends and interests. Thompson, who also plays for the band Promise Land, filled the last spot in what became the official Hermosa lineup.
[Thompson] is playing guitar for us now and he is just amazing. It is so weird, you know that person where it is like you just have so many common friends but you don’t meet for whatever reason for years and then you meet and you are like ‘I know everybody that you know but I don’t know you!’ So it was kind of like one those. He is just a super cool guy, a great guitarist,” added Hall.
Since forming, Hermosa continues to impress audiences with their unique and unparalleled sound. Nashville is known for its output of country hit after country hit yet something else is brewing in the local music scene. Other genres are seeing a resurgence as they gain popularity through young music lovers looking for something more out of the city. Standing out in a city brimming with music can be difficult and daunting especially for a band just starting out, but Hermosa’s charm comes from their unconventional and unrivaled songs.
We have all kind of communally found what we like and we don’t really stray from it. You find the groups you like, the places that you like that have all the fans that you like and it is super easy. I didn’t really grow up in a conventional music setting for my age group. So kind of just wanting to test the waters and testing limits and bringing in something new and fresh. Even just something like singing in Spanish or not talking about just pizza like every five seconds. I have a pizza tattoo, that is enough. I don’t think I need to write rock songs about it. I still love all of that,” said Hall.
Hall describes Hermosa’s unique sound as a result of her various musical inspirations with the biggest influence being the musician, singer/songwriter, and painter, Joni Mitchell.
Every single one of her songs, the way that she words things, and the way that she develops the idea of the song, it sort of invites you into it. They are personal and they are easy to remember and easy to sing along to and easy to agree with. It doesn’t matter how abstract she gets. Whether or not you were, you know, in love with a married man and went to lunch with him all the time. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t have that experience because you get it. So for my songs it’s like it doesn’t matter if you didn’t go through this or you haven’t been to Japan, you still get it, you understand the feeling,” explained Hall.
However, Hall and Hermosa have other influences as well including a variety of artists such as Pavement, The Pixies, Rush, The Clash, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.
“It all sort of comes together in this interpretation,” Hall added.
The future for Hermosa is only wide open. With a large following of fans in Nashville already, there seems to be nothing standing in the way for the group. Continuing their fast-paced rise to the top, Hermosa has plans to release their first EP by the summer. They also have plans to release a music video for their first single, “Wolves in the Fire.” Given the immense support that the group consistently receives, there is no doubt that their EP will well-loved and well received.
We have only been going since October about three months. What it is, is how much support I have gotten. I kind of hid away, kept it all inside and only shared it with a few people who I had this love for music and wanted to play. I feel like, Lincoln Parish from Cage the Elephant, my producer, him getting some incredibly on board. His love for the music. Him and I have the same birthday, we are one year apart exactly to the day and yet he has this wealth of knowledge that is just insane. All the support that he has given me and Adam and Mike from Jeffrey Drag and the band and all my friends, it has just been really shocking. It is so rare that some girl who has been in the scene for years but hasn’t done anything before just randomly appears and everyone loves you. It’s a blessing, a miracle. This is the only thing I really feel comfortable doing,” said Hall.
While fame and fortune are on the lips of most bands as they start out, Hermosa has a different goal in mind. Honesty, happiness and staying power as a band is all that the band desires. Setting themselves apart from the money hungry groups that seem to be everywhere, Hermosa seems to be more content with just making music they enjoy and living the true life of a musician.
I think just longevity. I want to be really really honest, not hold anything back also not try to cut any corners to make it big. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel natural, that doesn’t really match the whole vibe. Just getting it out there. Immediate future is just getting the word out and the ultimate future just have it still be around,” Hall added.
In a city filled with music, it is rare to find such a raw talent as you find in the members of Hermosa. The band has not played together long but is already one of the best the city has produced.
Gabrielle Hall’s vocals are gorgeous and will cause even the hardest of souls to swoon. Each of her songs are packed with an emotional punch that is deftly delivered by her sultry and powerful voice as it encompasses you like a familiar hug. She is also impressively adept at keys, incorporating them into each song flawlessly.
Sean Thompson on guitar adds the rhythmic kick that propels each track forward. His masterly guitar skills should not be overlooked and are downright exciting to watch.
Bad Cop members Danger Kilpatrick on drums and Alex Haartnis on bass guitar round out Hermosa as they provide the background edge to each song making them whole and complete.
Hermosa’s live show will wow you no matter how many times you see it. All the different instrumental sounds play off each other while complimenting the lyrics and vocals of each track. Whether it is an a cappella Neil Young cover or song about a man who can’t grow up, the audience will be captivated from the very beginning until the last note is played.
Even though the first single set to be released will be “Wolves in the Fire,” Hall said her favorite single is actually, “Postcards From Japan” despite the fact that she has never even been to the country.
The visuals, the stuff I haven’t seen. I mean, I haven’t been to Shinjuku Station (I googled it) but it’s a song that makes you feel like you are in it, like it’s happening to you or happening to me and that’s why I love performing it. And it’s fucking fun. It’s just a fun song. The work the guys did on it, the track. Lincoln put all these Japanese bells and I just love it.