NY-based Overcoats use eerie electronic stylings to push folk-esque lyrics into the ears of the listener. Monday night at the Wexner Center for the Arts the duo not only proved their talent in both vocals and onstage charisma, but also their ability to leave a lasting mark on audiences who have and have not heard their music in the past.
Overcoats played its first of five shows in Columbus supporting SOAK.
As Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell took the stage with just a guitar, a keyboard and a laptop, they began to bring the audience into their unique electro-folk sound.
Harmony is everything to Overcoats, and throughout the duo’s set it was almost impossible not to feel the chemistry Elion and Mitchell had on stage. The set was sprinkled with smiles, genuine enjoyment with what they were doing which made the performance that much more enjoyable for the audience.
The bass in tracks like “Nighttime Hunger” and “The Fog” shook the room to its core, but that didn’t stop anyone from moving around or tapping their foot to the infectious beats.
Those in the crowd were also lucky enough to hear a few tracks off of the duo’s forthcoming EP which is due out sometime this year. With hints of soul, R&B, electronic and folk, Overcoats bring to the table something more than just a beat and some lyrics, they bring forth an idea. A strong connection between harmony and a unique ghostly vibe that’ll stop you in your tracks.
I had read many different things about Overcoats’ live performance online, but what I witnessed that night solidified my thoughts about the young group, and the future they have ahead of them.
After Overcoats’ invigorating set, I had the pleasure to ask a few questions about the duo’s pre-show ritual, how some songs were developed on a subway and how being based in New York helps them succeed.
Every band or musician usually has a ‘pre-show ritual’ that they do. Some order lots of food, some just blast music and get hyped, some even do exercise. For Hana and JJ of Overcoats, it involves running.
“We usually take a lap around the venue ten minutes before we go on,” Elion said. “We freak out the promoters because they see us leaving the venue right before we’re about to walk on stage.”
Along with doing a lap, the duo also do some dancing to one of their favorites, Disclosure.
“We listen to a song called ‘Magnets’ by Lorde and Disclosure and we do some coordinated, weird dancing to loosen up,” Elion said.
“We have a couple of sayings that we just yell at each other to get pumped up,” Mitchell said. “It’s funny because we get really amped and then we get on stage and our first song is really slow … it’s good fun, you’ve got to get the blood pumping.”
Many of the songs Overcoats write are emotional ballads, but many of those ballads came to be as snippets the duo wrote on none other than the New York subway.
“A lot of the songs that we’ve been working on that are going to be on our debut album were born on the subway,” Mitchell said. “There’s two options when an idea comes to you: either you remember it and record it later, which is risky because you might forget it, so instead what we do is is we’ll literally sit in the subway, pull out our phones and by ourselves we’ll record some stuff … people will always look at us weird.”
“We also record when we’re walking too. Recently we were at SXSW and we were supposed to see six concerts that night and we ended up going to a show that just blew our minds,” Elion said. “We felt so inspired that we just walked around looking like zombies recording stuff on our phones, and one of those songs is the final song on our album.”
“We admit that we look insane,” Mitchell added.
For being such a relatively young band coming out of such a big city like New York, I also made sure to ask how the duo copes with the variety of competition the streets of New York hold day-by-day.
“I think in New York because there is so much going on in the music scene in general, you just have to be truest to you and do the best version of what you’re doing,” Elion said. “Thinking about what other people are doing isn’t really relevant.”
“I think of New York as a very fruitful place just because we’ll go to two or three concerts a week and artists that we love like Esmé Patterson can just be playing in our neighborhood,“ Mitchell said.
“We’re trying to do our own thing, we’re trying to meld folk and electronic … if we’re different than everyone else that’s great, but if there’s other bands like us then cool, we’ll be on a bill with them.”
You can stream Overcoats below.