Interview: Coast Modern

An Aries, a Cancer, a Taurus, and a Sagittarius walk into a bar, what happens next? Well, what started as an interview quickly turned into what reads like four people having a casual conversation. On a warm Friday in DC, we sat down in Songbyrd’s Record Cafe with California’s finest flavor trippers, Coast Modern to discuss the band’s origins, G-Unit, emojis, existential crises, a fake (real) mixtape, and more. Read below to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. This is the interview with Coast Modern.

 We begin with a tale of two strangers who moved to Los Angeles to write and produce for other artists.

Tell us about the birth of Coast Modern.

Luke: Well, we were born...

Let’s see, I moved to LA to enter the songwriting game, producing for other people.


Luke: Pop artists.

Did any of the songs pan out?

Luke: No, that’s partially why we’re here, because it didn’t pan out.

But it did, because you’re both here!

Luke: But we tried!

Coleman: I didn’t try that much. I wasn’t really into it, that world.

Luke: But yeah we got introduced by a mutual friend and just started making songs together -weird stuff. Some of- what’d we do? (looks to Coleman with heart eyes)

So you both started doing writing for other people, like ghost writers?

Coleman: A little, like I’ve been producing for people for the last twelve years and I’ve produced a lot of hip hop, like mostly hip hop and R&B. Local LA rappers and stuff.

That’s really cool because it’s a lot different from what you guys are recording now. I mean there’s a little bit of hip hop influence you can hear though.

Coleman: We’re dropping a mixtape on 4/20.


At this point in the conversation we transitioned into the tale of the infamous 4/20 mixtape that has since left us with lingering trust issues.

Luke: You just leaked that. Damn bro.

What made you guys decide to do a mixtape?

Coleman: Fuckin bomb beats yo! Too many tracks for another life.

Luke: Because of our background, we’ve got 20 styles of music that we do.

Coleman: Coast Modern is the most alternative project we’ve ever done. And when I say alternative I mean like the genre alternative-I don’t even know that alternative is still a genre.

What is a genre now anyway?

Luke: Yeah, exactlllly! What is genre?

You’re just “cool.”

Luke: Um you just stole my genre.

Coleman: Genre identity thief!

So is the mixtape going to be more experimental?

Coleman: I was just kidding we’re not actually dropping a mixtape. That was cold, I’m sorry.


Coleman: We should though, shouldn’t we?

Um okay I think we’re done here today. BYE!


Practically this whole interview has been about the MIXTAPE!

Coleman: Sorry! We’re thinking about it, we just wouldn’t be able to do it by 4/20. We’d have to do it after the album. Could you imagine the label letting us do that before we drop the album? No but the album is coming out soon so that’s good.

The guys quickly directed our attention back to the band’s origin after teasing us with the the tale of the mixtape.

Coleman: Yeah, so before Coast Modern we were doing all kinds of weird music and I kind of gave up on the LA music scene and moved to Denver and was like happy just like being a person. And one of the songs put online got discovered by a label that offered us a record deal, so I moved back to LA and then we wrote all the music that’s out. And the song that actually got us the record deal isn’t out yet.


Coleman: Yeah, and it might not even- yeah.


Coleman: Cause they’ve just been like holding onto it. They’re trying to build a buzz and then they’re gonna drop this track.

But you don’t think it’s gonna come out?

Coleman: I do, yeah. I don’t know, not before the album but yeah.

Luke: After the album.

Coleman: Fo sho.

So when did “Hollow Life” come out? I honestly thought maybe that was the song that got you guys a record deal.

Luke: That was like one of the first songs we ever wrote.

Coleman: After I got back.

Luke: Yeah, after we had this new mission.

Coleman: But before that we wrote tons and tons of music.

Luke: Yeah.

Coleman: “Hollow Life” is kind of us like in disbelief that this label actually wanted to sign us. And so we were like let’s make something that will confuse them so they know who we really are and not some like “pop act.”

Really? Does it sound different from the first song that got you a deal?

Coleman & Luke: Yeah.

Coleman: That one [first song] is a lot poppier but we had grown a lot since then, musically.

But even before all of that, not just the immediate past but I guess even as you guys were growing up. Were you always super into music, or how did you find your way into it deciding that this is what you actually wanted to do?

Coleman: I just loved music. My dad played a lot of like classic rock.

Luke: Yeah my dad too.

Coleman: Like Yes and Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd -lots of Pink Floyd. Yeah, and then you just kind of like-

Luke: You just don’t stop.

Coleman: Yeah.

Luke: Because you can’t stop.

Coleman: I got really into rap and hip hop for a long time.

Who are your favorites?

Coleman: Really generic stuff like, The Chronic and 2001.


Coleman: I do like Drake a lot, he’s one of my favorite artists.

Luke: Drake is dope.

Okay good, thought we may have to end the interview here if you said otherwise.

Coleman: Well he’s amazing!

He is amazing!

Coleman: We’re Drake fans. But when I was younger it was like Dr. Dre -that record 2001, with the pot leaf on it.

Luke: Big fan of that.

Coleman: G-Unit.

The mention of G-Unit in a casual conversation triggered a brief tangential discussion of the iconic trio.

Hell yeah, who didn’t love G-Unit?

Luke: Wow

Coleman: Thanks that makes me feel better.

My brother used to walk around school with that G-Unit shirt with the bulletproof vest.

Luke: Classic.

I remember we had “G” day at my high school and we were like “G-Unit” and wore shirts with that puff painted on them.

Luke: Oh my god.

Which is like so lame at a private school in Minnesota.

Luke: That’s beautiful.

G-Unit was powerful.

Coleman: Right on.

Some of your tracks, you rap in them.

Coleman: Sometimes, yeah.

It’s a softer rap, but you rap.

Coleman: Guru was like, the rap on that was supposed to be in a character. That’s not me like *going off.* It’s like within the scope of the song about this guy who is like really lazy and is supposed to sound kind of childish in a way. Because I’m not trying to pursue an actual career as a rapper.

Luke: Yeah.

Coleman: I don’t wanna scare the general population.

How about you [Luke], who did you love? Since you didn’t love G-Unit.

Luke: I was like an indie kid. I really loved Weezer, I was obsessed with Weezer. Then I got into stuff like Of Montreal.

I love Of Montreal. You’ve probably seen them live, right?

Luke: Yeah, I mean like hundreds of times. I saw MGMT open for Of Montreal.

Coleman: You saw Of Montreal hundreds of times?

Luke: Not hundreds, but at least probably like ten times.

Coleman: That’s crazy.

Luke: Yeah.

Coleman: That’s dope. So what’d you do before Coast Modern were you in any other bands or anything?

Luke: I’ve been in like high school bands and stuff.

Coleman: Yeah?

The conversation now gets extremely juicy as Luke attempts to tiptoe around his past musical ventures.

What were they called?

Luke: Many various, various names.

Oh, come on!

Luke: I’m not gonna say it.


Coleman: Yeah, why?

It’s embarrassing?

Luke: It is embarrassing.

Coleman: So you think they’re gonna look it up or something? If he tells you what it is can you not-

Not look it up?

Coleman: Or not like make it-

Luke: Off the record.

We successfully convince Luke to reveal the name of his former band, which is a secret that will stay with us to the grave (sorry, readers!).

Luke: Okay, off the record, it was called ________.

Shut up! Seriously?

Luke: Yeah.

That's beautiful, why wouldn’t you want that on the record?

Luke: Well because there's incriminating stuff.


Luke: Yes.

Coleman: (laughs) Incriminating stuff ... I think it's great. I actually heard his band before I met him.


Coleman: A week before I met him. And then when my mutual friend introduced me, he was like playing his music and I was like, "Holy shit, I know this song!" And he's like, "yeah, that’s me dawg." And we started making music.

That's so funny, that's crazy.  So how long ago was this?

Luke: Like 20 years ago ... No, I don't know.

How old are you?

Before we could dive into the taboo topic of age, a couple of trendy Coast Modern fans approach the table. They politely ask if they could help with getting a friend a ticket to the show (it was sold out) to which Luke and Coleman happily reply that they would help them out after our interview.

Coleman:  What were we talking about?

How old are you guys? I’m guessing late 20s, mid 20s?

Luke: Sure, yeah.

Coleman: I just had a very important birthday a few days ago.


Luke: Oh my gosh.

Coleman: *laughs*

Luke: The tell-all.

And so begins the discussion about zodiac signs.

Are you a Taurus?

Coleman: No, I'm an Aries.

What are you [Luke]?

Luke: What do you think? Are you good at guessing these things?

I haven’t really caught a vibe, I don't know.

Luke: I'm a Cancer.

You're a Cancer ... hmm.

Luke: I'm the end of June.


Luke: Yeah..balanced.

What month is Aries?

Coleman: March through April, we’re still in Aries territory right now

Luke: Aries though.

It’s Taurus season now though.

Coleman: I don't think Taurus even comes after Aries. I think it's [Aries territory] until April 16th.

Luke: I’m looking it up...Nah, I’m not.

Coleman: He's tweeting.

Luke: I gotta tweet. No, I'm not. Just kidding.

Who runs your social media accounts?

Coleman: We swap it.

Luke: We both do. We're both on here.

Coleman: We're just like, "How can we alienate our fans today?"


This is going very off the rails...

Luke: Good.

We now attempt to get the train back on its tracks by discussing Coast Modern’s involvement with NASA and it works, for awhile.


This is going very off the rails..


Okay, so what is this NASA project that you guys worked on together?

Luke: Oh man, you dug up some DIRT!

You guys have done so many interviews. I was like, "I need to get them to dive a little deeper with us here."

Luke: Deeper, well..That's one of the first things we worked on after we met.

So how did that happen?

Coleman: NASA's got this program. It's a show that tours the US. It's an assembly with dancing and stuff. It teaches -

Luke: Like choreographed dancing.

Coleman: Yeah, with actors. And it teaches kids about Newtonian physics.

Luke: To inspire them to become engineers.

Coleman:  And astronauts. We actually got a mission statement from NASA. It was very official, it was like, "This is for all of mankind. We want to inspire a generation to go to Mars."


Coleman: Yeah, insane.  They [NASA] had some music, but it wasn't cool anymore and they wanted to update it. So we wrote five songs for each law, like inertia -

Luke: Newton's law.

Coleman: E=MC squared.

That is amazing.

Luke: They sent us a book on physics that we had to read, and turn into raps.

That is so cool.

Coleman: Spit a bar, yo!

Luke: Dude, I wish I could remember it.

Oh, come on!

You're [Coleman] the rapper, you do it!

Coleman: Alright. I'll do one, but I won't rap it. It's, "If an elephant and I jump out an airplane, gravity affects us in the same way. Big or small, we fall at the same rate. This is all because F=ma."

Oh my God.

Luke: He’s got knowledge.

Coleman: Yeah, middle schoolers… learnin’.

How did you ... Were you working for someone that was like, "Yo, we need ..." I just don't get how you get a job for NASA writing raps?

Luke: Just random connections. I don't know, that's the good part about living in LA. Someone will know somebody who will know someone.

I think you said that in your last interview.

Coleman: Yeah.

Am I getting repetitive here?

Coleman: No, actually this is one of the better interviews we’ve had.

Luke: Crazy train.

Naturally after talking NASA, we segwayed into everyone’s favorite topic, the existential crisis!

Yeah, going off the rails again here. Let's talk about existential crises.

Luke: Wow.

You guys mention the word existential a lot-

Luke: Yeah.

So I'm just wondering, on average, how many existential crises -

Coleman: Do we go through a day?


Coleman: There's usually one mid-morning. I wake up in a good mood. And then at about 10:30-11:00, I have my first crisis. It's kinda like you know, we're on a rock flying through space, we're conscious, like why ... And then I'll usually get a coffee or something and about 2:30pm, that's when I'll get my second one. And I'll be like, "What am I doing with my life?"

Luke: Tour really accentuates it.

Coleman: Tour does accentuate it. What do you mean specifically? Just in life?

Yeah, I feel like I go through a bi-monthly "What, am I doing?”

Coleman: Yeah I feel you.

Like, what does it all MEAN?

Coleman: Right.

Luke: Yeah, that's probably like every few days.

I’m like, how did I get here? Then music starts to sound different. I'm like, “Oh! That person is suffering too!"

Coleman: Yeah.

You know what I mean?

Luke: Yeah.

Coleman: Different layers.

Luke: I think It's like a constant low-level hum.

Coleman: I think we're always pushing ourselves to be better musicians and travelers—life travelers.

Luke: Better life travelers ...

Coleman: You are always getting pushed up against pain.

Luke: Yeah, we're seeking the pain because we're trying to be better.

We’re all just trying to live, right? We're all going to die.

Coleman: WHAT!?

I said, "We're all going to die."

Coleman: WHAT!?


Spoiler alert!

Coleman: The end of Coast Modern. *holds up phone* “MOM?”


Coleman: Tweet that! Is that off the record?

No, that was on the record.

Coleman: This just in...

*breaking news noises* We're all gonna die!

Okay, so I read another interview and I liked this quote, I don't know which one of you said it. Hopefully, one of you remembers saying it.

"The quicksand of nostalgia were tangled in the vines of work."

Luke: Hell yeah.

Luke, you said that? That was poetic!

Luke: I feel like that was definitely written, cause I can't speak that eloquently.

I just thought it was beautiful and I was wondering, what kind of things do you guys have nostalgia for?

Coleman: Oh, that was a quote for "The Way it Was."

Luke: We were talking about how we should all we should all want to get sucked into nostalgia.

Wait, that's from a song?

Coleman: No, it's a quote about a song. Because that's what the song's about.

Luke: It's about not getting sucked in quicksand of nostalgia.

Coleman: [To Luke] What are you nostalgic for?

Luke: What do I get nostalgic for? I'm nostalgic for just not having to do anything, like having summers off.

Being a child.

Luke: Being bandits just like running around.

Summer nights were the best.  

Coleman:I bet summer nights were dope here, because it's kind of Southern, so you get like humidity and loud bugs in your ear. Love it.

Luke: Summer will never be the same.

Running through the honeysuckles.

Luke: Some are better than others.

Coleman: Summer will be cool when we’re touring more.

Luke: I feel like we're on summer break now. You can find things to replace certain things. It’s all a trade off. Like, *sarcastically* we can drink BEER!


Luke: I don’t know, we get some good things with advancement. We got Twitter.

The interview takes quite the turn as we move on to the topic of movies and Coleman reveals he has never before seen one of the most iconic comedic films of all time.

The million dollar question: comedy or drama?

Luke: In what, film or the-atre?

In life, in film, just everything.

Some people, they live for the dramatics. We live for the comedy.

Luke: Yeah. I choose comedy, life is a constant joke.

Coleman: That's true, it's a dramedy. Life's a rom-com.

Luke: Life is a rom-com, and then you die.


Coleman: Life's a dark comedy.

Luke: A dark romantic comedy.

Coleman: Dark romantic comedy.

Then you die.

Coleman: Do you know what a dark comedy is, traditionally? A comedy is a movie that starts out really bad and gets good. Like bad situations for everybody, and by the end, everybody's happy. Traditionally, a drama's the opposite, where it starts out really great and shit hits the fan and it’s really sad at the end. A dark comedy is when it starts out really shitty and gets really good and then it ends shitty.

I had no idea.

Coleman: Yeah, like in Greek Theatre.

Luke: Greek rom-com.

Coleman: The Greek rom com. I'm a drama guy.

Luke: Really?

Coleman: I like edge into sadness and pain.

Racing towards a dream on the HORIZON...

Gimme something better than this Hollow life.

What's your favorite film?

Coleman: My favorite few films are Adaption, Donnie Darko, big fan of P.T. Anderson and his movies.

Luke: Those were all great movies! I haven't thought about movies in a long time. They're too long.

Mine is probably the worst, it’s not deep or anything. I love Billy Madison!

Coleman: I don’t know if I’ve actually seen that.

You never seen it!?

Coleman: I'm sure I've seen bits.

I quote that movie every single day.

So many exclusives here… never seen Billy Madison, alright. Have you [Luke]?

Luke: Yeah! Like a hundred times. That’s what I’m nostalgic for, good Adam Sandler movies.

Yeah! Now he does movies like… Click.

I'm going to send you a copy [of Billy Madison]. You can watch it on the tour bus. Seriously.

Luke: Like a VHS?

Yeah! *laughing*

And now for the most important part of our conversation, emojis.

Here's another question. It's not serious, but it kind of is. How do you feel about the rat emoji?

Coleman: What?

The rat emoji, have you ever seen it?

Luke: I don't know if I've seen it.

It's my favorite.

Coleman: Is it?

Luke: Can we see it?

Coleman: I think there's other animal emojis that are much better than the rat one.

Luke: I like the octopus.

Coleman: And I haven't even seen the rat one.

Well it's gonna become your new favorite probably.

Coleman: Better than the baby octopus?

Luke: How do you use it?

I use it as a term of endearment.

Luke: Really? Like *sarcastically* “aw muh rat baby!”

Look at it! *shows phone*

Luke: It's kinda cute. I don't know…

So you don't like the rat, what emoji do you like?

Luke: My favorite emoji is those three sparkles.

Okay, those are good. Like, *vibez*

Luke: Hell yeah, vibes. *Viiiiiiiiiiiiibes*

We should probably go do photos?

Luke: Let’s get one more soundbite.

Coleman: Yeah, one more question.

Luke: We can interview ourselves!

Yeah, ask yourselves a question... but I do want to ask, what do you wish people would ask you? Or what do you hate being asked?

Coleman: I wish people would ask us more about who produces our music.

Who produces it?

Luke: Dr. Dre

Coleman: Yeah, so then we can say, "We do, mother fucker!"


Coleman: I don't know if it's common knowledge that we did it in a little bedroom, and it's not a professional studio.

All of it? The album?

Coleman: Yeah, it's a laptop production.


Luke: No, we did it in a studio *dramatic pause* APARTMENT!


Luke: There’s a soundbite.

Coleman: We have a studio now, but none of the songs from the album are from it.

Wait, and you guys are on a pretty big label right?

Coleman: 300.

Luke: Three-hundo.

And they just let you guys record it like that?

Coleman: Most the vocals are demo vocals from the first time we wrote the song.

Luke: Yeah.

That was one of our other questions. Obviously, you guys have a good connection, you guys vibe off of each other very well. How does it play out in your music, your brain, your aesthetics, your vibe? Who is it that makes a decision off what? How is it that you guys bounce off of each other in making decisions?

Coleman: We're both really opinionated.

Luke: We can grind.

You’ve got an Aries and a Cancer.

Coleman: Yeah.

Luke: We're very different.

Is one person doing the lyrics, one person doing music?

Coleman: It's always different. We both contribute to every part of it. Some songs will be way more ... like Luke will almost have to completely finish the beat, but some songs I'll be vibing on something and write the whole song down. But overall, it's very much like today you killed at this and that, and that ... We also disagree on a lot of things and I think it's that disagreement that makes the product better, because there’s no free pass. There's no, "That's fine. Whatever." If it's not good, then we have to make it better or it doesn’t fly.

Has anything been put out there that one of you guys did not agree with, where you’re like "I really wish we didn't put that out there” but did it because one felt stronger than the other person about it?

Coleman: Not really.

Luke: No.

Coleman: There's times where I wish we had more time to work on stuff. Or had gone farther while we were still flow state, and then it [the song] got contrived and we lost sight of what we were trying to do.

How do you decide what’s good and what’s garbage?

Coleman: It's all good!

Luke: Yeah, exactly.


Coleman: No, it’s just time. It’s usually time, you come back to it and you’re like “eh that sucks.” There's stuff that you won't even like and then you'll come back and be like “holy shit!”

Luke: Usually I think it’s in the moment. You're just like ... You get a weird feeling.

A gut a feeling.

Luke: Gut feeling.

I believe in gut feelings.

Luke: Yeah, absolutely.

Your intuition does not lie to you.

Luke: Absolutely.

Sometimes it does, but that means you're not listening well enough. Intuition is a real thing.

Luke: Trust your gut!

So shout out to intuition.

Coleman: Yeah.

Luke: I mean that's everything.

Coleman: It really is though. That's our whole project.


Coleman: Yeah, we don’t overthink.

Luke: Whenever we want stray into like dark territories, someone's intuition will bounce.. bounce back.


Final words to your fans?

Thanks for being on the spaceship with us...

All photos by Queen Cina Nguyen for Capitol Sound

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