Summer Aviation: “Somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and the Carpenters”

In a time when so many musicians want their music to have a recorded-to-released turnover rate of about an hour and a half, there’s something quite nice about a band that isn’t afraid to take their time with a recording.  Such is the case with Summer Aviation.  The Seattle-based husband/wife duo of Kevin and Lee Kelly actually took a solid year crafting their six-song debut EP, Elevator, which was released this past July.  I recently got a chance to chat with the couple, who seemed happy to take the time with the record, but also quitehappy to have a finished product. “Just getting this first EP done has been a big highlight for us,” Kevin tells me when I ask him of the band’s brightest moments, thus far.

Kevin, who writes and performs all of Summer Aviation’s music and composes its lyrics, is most famous for his time fronting Seattle shoegazers The Melody Unit.  However, Lee, on the other hand, is new to the whole music thing.  I’mjust starting out.  He’s been doing it,” Lee tells me, who explains that she’s been learning how to sing as she goes for Summer Aviation.  And although their influences seem to be largely of the 60s sunshine pop anddream pop variety, I think they actually sound quite twee… optimistically pensive and playfully existential… I tell them that their “Thrust” reminds me of Belle & Sebastian and they tell me that the original place-holing title was actually “The Belle & Sebastian Song.”
I ask what actually led to the project and the couple literally making sweet music together and Kevin explains that it was a combination of a practical desire to do music and a reinvigorated passion for a former musical love.
“I wanted to play music again.  I got into the Carpenters again… Although it’s kind of a lonely time to be a Carpenters fan.  But I appreciate songs with arrangements and harmonies and I got into them a few years ago.  I would watch them on YouTube and it’s like I didn’t realize they were that fucking awesome, which is so cool because ten years ago you didn’t have things like YouTube that allow you to explore so much music that you might not, otherwise.”
Kevin also admits to me that his biggest musical love is still My Bloody Valentine (which is not surprising, considering his previous output) and that the sound that is captured on Elevator is something he feels like is a combo of his love for people like MBV and people like Karen Carpenter.
“Somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and the Carpenters, that’s where the truth lies for me and this record turned out more fuzz than sunshine, I think.  I guess it’s Sunshine Fuzz Pop.  I like a nice, weird combo.  I like the grey area of everything, dark and light.  And even with those sunshine bands, there’s some darkness there.”
And the idea for the husband/wife duo to work together professionally was never actually intended and was, in fact, a product of alternatives simply not working out: “We’ve been together for quite a long time but there’s always that thing about never date someone in your band, so I’d never thought of it.  But I tried looking online for a female vocalist and it just never worked out.”  Lee then coyly chimes in, “And I was just so awesome.”
When I ask about their writing and recording process, Lee quickly attempts to clarify, “He’sthe creative one,” to which Kevin just as quickly replies, “No, I’m not.”  He then begins to explain his relatively haphazard writing process to me.
“You can’t really try too much.  You noodle around on keys… I write a lot on keys… and come up with a hook.  And then it’s a matter of finding the most natural vocal melody.  Every instrument has its melody and part… We’re kind of lazy with lyrics.  I really don’t care too much about lyrical content.  I mean, I like love songs because love songs will last forever.  I don’t want to get political or philosophical.  I mean, I won’t look to pop music for that stuff.  I’ve never really listened to the words.”