LOS ANGELES, CA- Late last year, I hit that play button on Sandy Hawkins’ Spotify playlist for the first time. I was instantly intrigued. The song was “Cherry Chapstick” started to play and its old-school, Beck-like vibe had me bouncing to the beat at my desk. No fast forwarding for this track. I was enmeshed in a Sandy Hawkins groove.

At that point, Sandy Hawkins only had a handful of cuts under their belt, but I couldn’t stop listening to them. There was something refreshingly gleeful and carefree in their music that was a nice change of pace during these covid plagued times. It was a much-needed musical respite.

I was able to catch up with the guys (Tiger, Keenan, and Tom) a few weeks later and we conducted a socially distanced photoshoot and chat a bit about their music. These guys were a hoot. With the Lunchables and Modelos at the ready, they kept the mood light and silly and really made me forget about the dumpster fire of a life I had been living in quarantine.

They recently released a new single, “Original Sins”, which continues their breezy sonics and worry-less vibes. Below is my interview and photos with the Echo Park-based, musical upstarts, Sandy Hawkins.


Sandy Hawkins Portrait 11/29/20. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
Sandy Hawkins Portrait 11/29/20. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

I got a link to your music from your publicist, and I gotta, say, I’m really digging it. It’s got such easygoing, carefree humor to it all. Your publicist mentioned that the band was born out of the pandemic lockdown. Can you maybe get into that with me? Were you all playing together pre-pandemic or did you each have your own projects you were involved with?

TIGER: Prior to the pandemic, Tom was a friend I would go out with in the Echo Park area. We would hit up the local spots to dance and cause trouble. He ended up getting a new pad (which is basically an old wooden bungalow pirate ship vibe) right down the street from me. Keenan was a friend of a good friend who got wind of an extra room opening up in my spot. He moved in on March 1st. I knew he was artistic (artist, designer) who had some rapping chops from living in ATL. We couldn’t leave the house so we went into my basement studio to just chop up some beats and create some vibes (I’ve been playing and producing with bands in LA for awhile). After creating two beats with some verse ideas, I texted Tom to come over and see what we had done. Tom instantly added some production ideas and dropped a verse. We ended up posting some videos of that night to my personal Instagram and people were like, “What… is….. this?… are you guys like a new boy band?” And then it pretty much clicked: the three of us were thirsty for something to sink our teeth into a creative distraction and outlet. We came up with a dozen or so other song ideas in the next few weeks and figured out our vibe and ethos.

I should note that our intention from the start, besides being a self-serving, fun distraction, was to provide a fun alternative to the dire news that was permeating the news cycle for our friends and ex-lovers. We knew that the music was positive, but we didn’t wanna position ourselves as some mysterious indie band. We were just having as much fun as possible. Creating our own silver-lining to the lockdown vibes.

I think you guys are lucky to have been able to find a creative outlet. I know a lot of people struggling with that these days… “friends and ex-lovers”… It’s kinda funny that you mention ex-lovers cause that’s kinda who I think you guys wrote the songs you’ve dropped so far for, with the exception of “Chauncey’s Dream”, which is an instrumental. Was that intentional? Is that a topic that you guys found easy to keep light-hearted?

TIGER: Chauncey’s Dream was supposed to be just a “warm-up” track to get our account prepped for the real singles. It ended up resonating with the ambient beats community and also “breath work” groups and even a zoom Lamaze pregnancy workshop. The other singles with lyrics are about love and relationships, but each tackles a different component. Love and the perception of “love” in various forms are what all music is really about. Romantic love. Brotherly love. Love of nature. Love of laughter. And everything that comes before and after those feelings.

If you don’t mind, would you be down to explain what form of love you’re talking about in each of the three songs with lyrics you’ve dropped? As an aside, since I tried to google it after I heard it, what does “Wake up the Monkey” mean in “Sweeet”?

Keenan: Yeah, that line in “Sweeet” makes sense in the context of the chorus and the larger theme of the song, which is about waiting for your bae. that specific chorus is about doing what it takes to forget about someone you’ve been waiting too long for. there are some innuendos that we probably will leave up to the listener to decipher.

What about “Cherry Chapstick”? You alluded that you three collaborate on the songwriting, but that song kind of felt like it was driven by a single voice. The rap verses seem to tell a story specific to real-life experiences. The dinner description. The running mascara. Am I reading too much into it, or is that song… autobiographical for one of you.

Tiger: The verses are based on real-life anecdotes related to courtship and dating. Keenan once was stuck in a snow storm on a date and gave her the option of cutting him open with a knife to climb inside his body to survive. It wasn’t cold enough. The two rap verses are somewhat interesting in that Keenan wrote parts of mine and I wrote parts of his. And then Tom swoops in with his Brian Wilson falsetto vibes for the last verse.

Sandy Hawkins Portrait 11/29/20. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
Sandy Hawkins Portrait 11/29/20. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

Just to give new listeners a sense of who you guys are as individuals, do you think you could each take turns describing another member in the group? You guys all seem to have a great sense of humor, but is there a pensive one? Is there an anxious one?

KEENAN: Tiger is an enigmatic character who will instantly make you feel like his long lost pal. Between cases of sparkling water and bouts with nicotine addiction he has always found time to create melodies in his mind. Sure he’s gone on a date at every restaurant on Sunset, but his real shine comes in the form of a 6 foot 8 body that rivals that of a medium sized bear. Sure his name is actually Craig, but he didn’t get to pick that one. Proud owner of three rescue cats with cheeky names, you can usually find him demanding affection from one if not all of them. He’s been in over 35 bands and caught the bouquet at at least 3 weddings, all of which he was djing.

TIGER: I’ll describe Tom the same way I described him to a woman we both Hinge-matched with and forced into a three-way phone call: he is the gentlest soul who is half Shaggy from Scooby Doo and half time traveler prospector/pirate from days long ago. He sails boats and sands decks in his spare time and was recently described as “the mayor of eating pussy” by a friend of mine who saw him in one of our videos. Tom is a genuine human who you could bring home for thanksgiving. You’ll find him in the den at 10pm listening to Steely Dan’s Gaucho album while snacking on thin slices of grass fed raw cheese.

TOM: Keenan is the love-force of the group. He has always lead with his heart, and his heart forms the lyrical spearhead of the band. If he was a chakra, he would be our solar plexus. His wispy blonde hair gives off vibes of a freshly born cherub, but his thick as molasses mustache is fully matured, and ready to soak up any drop of Modelo that doesn’t land in his mouth. Keenan has always been a rebel, and no better example than seeing his maroon Toyota Corolla parked the wrong way on a one-way street. In his spare time, he enjoys pelvic writhing, hardcore online gaming, and all forms of bathing.

Sandy Hawkins Portrait 11/29/20. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
Sandy Hawkins Portrait 11/29/20. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

Tell me a little bit about the new single, “Original Sins”.

Tom: The song was recorded over a week in a Big Bear Cabin. It was inspired by the ballroom scene Labyrinth and the Beach theme by Angelo. It was Produced, Mixed, and Mastered by Sandy Hawkins – Channeling the spirit of songs such as Kokomo and Every Breath You Take.

Tiger: The trip to Big Bear where we wrote the song and came up with most of the vocals was pretty magical. We were looking over miles of the forest while trying to tap into something deep within us. it’s probably our most honest and introspective song to date.

What does the future look like for Sandy Hawkins? How are you hoping to get your vibes out to the people with music venues closed, and what can your new listeners look forward to for the rest of the year?

Tiger: To Sandy Hawkins, the future has endless possibilities – no open container laws, Universal Basic Cable, reopening our Borders bookstores, and free vision and dental dam coverage.

Keenan: But more immediately, we’re seeking a Modelo sponsorship. So if you’re reading this Mr Modelo Man, come and knock on our door.

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