Since 2007, Philippe Andre and Adam Sabolick have been playing music together in a series of different projects throughout Southern California. This past spring, the Orange County based duo released their debut EP as Double Wish entitled LIGHT SPLIT SPARKLE. The tracks oscillate freely between dream-pop anthems and wailing shoegaze-y guitar lines—a sound the two have coined “dark-sunshine-pop.” Their ability to incorporate a wide variety of influences so seamlessly comes from a long history as collaborators and a creative process that incorporates visual elements, video game references, and grandiose vignettes of incredibly specific vibes. We get into that and much more in our interview, which you can find below! Pre-order an expanded edition of LIGHT SPLIT SPARKLE, out officially August 4th via Hit The North and Neon Bloodbath, here!
The EP came out a couple months back. What have you guys been up to since it dropped and what’s your plan going forward? What are you guys working on?
Adam Sabolick: Yeah, so we played shows across Southern California—Permanent Records in Los Angeles, Wayfarer in Orange County, and Soda Bar down in San Diego. Followed those shows up with supporting PAPA at Observatory OC, and did our first in-store performance at the legendary Fingerprints Music in Long Beach. Trying to engage with having something physically released in the most IRL way. I find that it’s much more rewarding to engage in the things that are, you know, a bit more tangible. So much of what we do as artists requires engaging our audience on a screen via social media, so these shows have been special. Playing in front of audiences, taking pictures with people, signing LPs, selling merch, and having good chemistry within the band. It’s easy to get distracted by social media, analytics, and data. But I think if anything, this release and the supporting shows have just paved a path for the next chapter.
With this first edition of the LIGHT SPLIT SPARKLE 12” EP we only pressed 100 copies, and they have pretty much sold out at this point. So we are working on the next edition which we are calling LIGHT SPLIT SPARKLE (EXPANDED). It will be another very limited edition run. This release will be done collaboratively with (labels) Hit the North and Neon Bloodbath, who will be overseeing the second pressing. This edition will include three new tracks, and a remix by Yppah. It will have unique artwork, and colored vinyl variants. So that’s kind of what’s going on between the continuation of writing and recording new material, which is kinda always an ongoing thing. Having this expanded version of the EP shows a bigger picture of what we worked on leading up to those initial six songs.
Philippe Andre: Part of my job was to finish mixing these EXPANDED songs, so I think beyond all that it’s just been prep for being the best we can as a live band and to support it digitally and do all the things admin-wise on the backend. It’s just really getting these new tracks ready, which is exciting. It’s exciting to put a few new things out. You know, as it takes time to put music out; by the time you actually put it out and support it, it’s like two years old. But it’s fresh for everyone else, so I think it’s kinda fun in a live environment, it does bring a new freshness to the songs that you’ve heard a million times already. But also having perspective to know that it’s new to every single person you meet, and you kind of have to, like, lean into that idea.
And I think that’s fun! It’s like a bit of a challenge to not just be like, “oh yeah, no one knows who we are or what this is.” So how do we keep it fresh for ourselves and how do we authentically keep it fresh for others? I feel like there’s a way people can tell if the band’s not engaged with themselves or they’re going through the motions, you know? I feel like that’s always kind of a fun challenge—to keep it fresh.
So when I was looking through some of the interviews you guys have done, something I noticed is you guys talked a lot about how these sorts of visual cues play a role in your productions. You talked about how you wanted a guitar to sound like it was sand listening on top of water, or you were saying, oh, I want these drums to sound like Linkin Park playing in a cave or something. Is that something that plays into the songwriting process, or is that more when you get into the studio on the production side? On these new tracks that you have coming out, were there any visual cues that played into the brainstorming there?
AS: Yeah, I think that the visual side is just as much of a collaboration between Philippe and I as every other element of our music. I am typically the one with the visual ideas and Philippe has the technical know-how of producing certain types of sounds. For me it’s just a way of communicating. I went to school for painting, so I spent a long time thinking about expression through a visual medium. I think it allows us to get away from being too specific, and leaves room for the unknown to make itself apparent. I mean, LIGHT SPLIT SPARKLE, the title of the EP, is like a guitar tone that I have in my head.
It’s not just one guitar tone, but almost a sensation. I think oftentimes, when we are consuming art, music, painting, film… to me, the sensation is the most entertaining part of those experiences. Also so much of our music is about lived experiences in some ways. I know that Phillipe and I both love spending lots of time at the beach and I think it’s apparent in the music in a lot of ways, in a sound way. Synesthesia is fun. Trying to bring two separate things together, even if it’s just for conversation’s sake. A fun exercise for your mind.
Your music, in many ways, feels like at any given moment it could easily devolve into wailing shoegaze-y guitars or into like a pop anthem. The fact that there’s kind of that visual aspect to it kind of holds in that way, because as you were saying, you’re not aiming for a specific target, you’re just kind of capturing that general vibe. On these extra tracks you have, was this a part of the process that came up a lot?
AS: I think there are recurring sounds that we like to use. They’re not literally the same sound every time, but there’s kind of a “crystal-y drops of water” sound, or something like the DONKEY KONG soundtrack. Ha. Philippe—I’m thinking of the synth parts in “Pleasure” and the guitar tones in “Say This”, and some of the firework-y synth sounds on “Edge to Edge.” We were just in the studio a few days together, and we were aiming for the sound of a rocket bursting through the atmosphere—the metal sparking and shooting off and things barely being able to stay together under pressure. I don’t know. To me, that’s like, a tone!
PA: I get lots of these conversations with Adam describing, like, the keyboard part, and then he hits me with these abstract metaphors and I love it because it doesn’t give me a direct thing to hit. He’s not like, “I want a fuzz tone that sounds like Dungen or Tame Impala.” It’s more like, “Give me this broken speaker that sounds like this.” A lot of times Adam is more on this sparkly cave shimmering light abstract, which is great cause it just gets my brain to think about taking a concept and then us workshopping it. You know, there’s been an ethos for sure in this work, and in the EXPANDED songs.
AS: There was two years of work that Philippe and I did together that is represented in, lets say, 12 recorded songs. I can’t quite remember right now, but only six were on the first edition of the EP. I felt with the others, I wanted to find a way to not just have them sitting on a shelf. I feel like releasing LIGHT SPLIT SPARKLE has been an awesome experience, and obviously working with Hit the North and getting opportunities that we wouldn’t have been able to get ourselves. It also just makes the path a little bigger and a little clearer for what is going to come after.
Back to the visual thing real quick, I like to think—if Double Wish was, you know, a fish in the ocean, what kind of fish would it be? If Double Wish was a store in a shopping mall, which store would it be? If Double Wish was a pastry, what pastry would it be? It’s thinking of creating an entire universe that allows and enables me to make more music. I feel like this. I was recently talking to someone about the next batch of songs that we’ve been working on that aren’t part of the EXPANDED release. They asked me, what does it sound like? And I was like, “Imagine if the ocean was, instead of water, if it was like mercury, like chrome and slippery.” There is something about living and breathing every element. It’s about the full vision, and then songs come out of it because that’s the medium. But, in order to get there, I find inspiration in so many different things that I can’t help but kind of create this whole picture.
I feel like there’s room here for a line of guitar pedals with just really long, abstract metaphors as the names for them. You guys obviously like the beach and the ocean a lot, it reminds me of at work, a couple weeks back I got this email at work from someone who was insisting their music had to be played on (Los Angeles radio station) KCSN and the email was in all caps and it was like “I AM THE SOCAL SOUND,” which is their tagline. Do you guys think that there’s something necessarily “SoCal” about your music?
AS: I think it’s funny cause actually today I was listening to Sublime and, you know, they’re an Orange County band, and I think that there is something about living a few miles from the ocean, having blue skies most of the year, and having a specific relationship to light. My twin brother actually moved up to Seattle a few years ago and the change in lighting was so hard on him. To live his entire life in bright sunshine and then be in gray Seattle. I do think that environment has a huge impact on artists. Philippe and I grew up doing the same things. We were both into skateboarding—that feels like a very California thing. There are these touchstones that Philippe and I share… that are part of our identities. I think you can nerd out and look at pop music history and create an argument for certain tones or certain types of songwriting or chord progressions or production techniques that might lend themselves to a region of the earth.
Where does the band name come from? Based on this conversation, if it’s just a vibe, that’s also a totally good, valid answer!
AS: It comes from multiple things, but is not just one thing, but yeah, it is kind of a “vibe.” I always have a hard time answering this question because there is, like, a very specific thing it comes from, but that was also just a starting place. Abstractly, the thing it comes from is just a certain type of creative energy that’s like, “I’m gonna do this unapologetically with or without people’s approval, with or without validation.” To me, it was just a realization that a big part of being an artist is to do what you do unapologetically, and to stand by what you do. I don’t care if people think we sound like, say New Radicals. I love New Radicals. You know, it’s about having that unapologetic headspace and to not be ashamed of the work you make.
I say this as an interviewer that just asked the question about where a band name comes from, but I feel like I’ve heard people in the past say that they don’t like that question because over time the band name becomes a product of your experience as it. I think that’s really cool for you guys because the idea that the inspiration for it is, you know, basically saying, fuck it and doing what you want to do. That’s cool that your lived experience and the experience of being in the band continues to prove you right on that one.
AS: We’ve been making music together since we were teenagers. It’s been 15-something years and so there is something about the duality of our process. It’s so funny because we both balance each other out pretty well in terms of our ideas and our writing together and being in the studio together. I feel like it has always kind of been like that.
PA: Definitely. Back then, we just never hit record on anything and we’d be in and out of different projects. So for whatever reason, it all finally happened, you know, pandemic or not. I just feel like it was always kind of leading towards this. Obviously Adam had this name in his back pocket and just threw it at me, like within the first song or two of us starting to work together, which was never really gonna be anything. It was just, “let’s just start recording.” I had some ideas. We wanted to get this out and it was cool, and then it kind of just started, like, word vomit, but in this case, music vomit. It just kept going. So, Adam throwing that name at me was like, yeah, perfect. I feel like anytime Adam has this concept or an idea or a song, I love just being able to run with it.
There’s some magic where an idea comes from. There’s one part specifically that I really like capitalizing on. You know, it’s almost like a flow state and trying to capitalize on that. I don’t want to put a plug in the flow state to just start messing around or try to figure out what “should” be happening. Conceptually, I feel like that’s always been the relationship with us jamming together. It’s always funny because Adam was always jamming on bass and I was always jamming on drums and yet both of us don’t do either of those things in our live version of the band, which is genius. I feel like that playfulness, to me, describes our relationship as friends. It describes our relationship with each other’s music. You know, it’s serious, but not serious at all. It’s a joke, but it’s actually really passionate, you know? I feel like, I don’t have a part in naming that, but by being a product of that name and supporting it I feel like there is something about living this thought-form, like a band name, you know? And it comes alive eventually, and hopefully for us, it resonates in the collective consciousness in the near future. Who knows?!
From what you guys are saying, it kind of feels like the magic of Double Wish comes from this flow of an idea, whether it’s a visual cue or a band name or really any of those things, like through this whole process.
AS: Funny story—when we decided that we’re gonna release some music, I remember I asked some people if they thought it should be called Double Wish or something else, and no one liked Double Wish. I thought to myself, this is perfect because this is exactly what Double Wish is about. Conceptually it’s about doing something because you’re so convicted by it. I’m happy that I didn’t let anybody’s opinion persuade me otherwise.