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Sibling Duo, Silver Cup, Embody Early Influences and Themes Onto Their Music

By translating the experiences they have had growing up as siblings through palpable themes lyrically and sonically, Silver Cup propose a fresh take on indie pop. After sitting down with them and going to their show in Iowa City, their enthusiasm was clearly shown towards their upcoming dates and future mixtape release.

Starting roughly four years ago, siblings Hadley, Logan, and former band member Campbell Nelson began making music through the realization of sampling and the doors it can open. Stripping palpable elements of electronic music translated into indie pop, through the use of Amen-break-like drum elements, strong synth leads achieved from vocal or sample chops, additional guitar elements, all topped with energetic vocals from the siblings; Silver Cup poses as a band with some of the most interesting sounds indie pop has to offer.

As Logan, who is responsible for producing the songs, explains, “My mindset has always been sampling. Digging into crates, recording that snippet of the record; or even finding something in the public domain that has an interesting sound to it. That is how we try to make the sound of Silver Cup stand out.” Sampling is highly relevant now, due to its universal application, making it one of the most accessible ways to make music, yet not an easy task to master. Logan says that he has drawn major influences on the creativity that comes from sampling as well as sound processing, “It was sort of a before and after when my brother showed me how Madlib and J Dilla used to do it: just some old records and an MPC controller. It marked the way I approach production. Another huge influence is the sound design coming from Four Tet, able to take acoustic sounds and crumple them up to compose beautiful pieces of music.”

“Away” Music Video

Silver Cup’s vocals rest in the hands of both siblings, but Hadley’s writing and voice stand out as they are emotionally filled with themes established early in their formative years, “Since the beginning, Silver Cup as a project has had this coming-of-age feeling, which comes naturally to us as siblings. So, a lot of the influences we’ve had are based on what we used to listen to with our mom in the car. Personally though, Imogen Heap and The Postal Service are the two staples in that regard.” As the siblings grew older, they have established their music taste and extracted clear sonic profiles from current artists, as Hadley explains, “translating the same sonic profile (from Imogen Heap and The Postal Service) to the modern day, Caroline Polachek has played a big influence as well, especially as a vocalist and how she combines her voice with the electronic elements of her music.”

Even though a lot of the musical history the siblings have is strongly intertwined, both Hadley and Logan have had their respective experience when it comes to listening and writing music. Hadley has been performing on stage since an early age. Whether it be in musical theater, or to their family and friends as a kid, there was always a musical element that called out. “I was in college when Logan reached out asking to start Silver Cup, and starting the project played a big part in how I listen to music.” Hadley explains that the call to write her own pieces very much influenced her approach to listening to music. “We all listened to music throughout high school and college, but sometimes it was my brother who would send me stuff to listen to. It was throughout the course of last year that I started to develop an individual taste; either from finding artists on my own or rediscovering some that I used to listen to as a kid. For example, Imogen Heap, an artist who I listened as a kid, is a completely different experience 15 years later”

As with any other person within the music industry nowadays, social media plays a big part in how your music will engage with an audience. It is not a new thing, as Logan describes, “Since the beginning of pop music as we know it, musicians have always been personas. The only difference from previous years is that then the main medium was TV. Artists would go out of their way and make an appearance on TV because they wanted their music to be successful, even if they didn’t want to be there.” Silver Cup’s music has benefited from some virality, as Hadley explains, “it has been a catalyst for Silver Cup’s growth which I am super grateful for.” Their goal when it comes to social media is to not overplay it, but rather show authenticity. “We would rather take our time to share our music through an authentic lens, showing a bit of ourselves hoping that it would ring with people who are interested in our music and through that mean build a community”, Logan explains. As far as I can tell, the fruits of their efforts are palpable through the connection between the people who are familiar with Silver Cup’s music and the band itself.

Image via Silver Cup

When preparing for their now ongoing tour, Hadley mentioned that their new set up consists of mostly MIDI controllers, a pair of guitars, and a wireless headset mic for Hadley (like those NSYNC would wear on stage). “This setup is more compact since we are going on the road. Usually, we would have a drummer with us, but we would be compressing it down to an electronic set up which requires a whole different preparation itself.” When talking with the band, they said that they only took one day off after practicing their performance for the greater part of a month, “mainly because we are not a band who wants to take shows lightly. You can find bands that would just hang out, jam for an hour or two the day before their show and they would do just fine, but Hadley and I never settled for average when we played live. We want to make sure the audience has a good experience, regardless of them knowing our music.”

The show Silver Cup played in Iowa City was only their second of the tour they are currently on, as a support to Flamingos in the Tree. I was looking forward to listening to what they had in store. From my perspective, the practice paid off. You could clearly sense the energy and enthusiasm they were wanting to transmit. They did an incredible job in setting the scene, clearly delimiting their performance from the one from the previous band. It came as a surprise how they were able to control the strobe lights on stage, mapping its actions with the MIDI signals sent by some of the electronic elements within their digital audio workstation (DAW). When the show went on, you can clearly see how the preparation paid off. Their set up can seem gimmicky (and may lead to a just few technical issues), but each part played an important role on their performance. Hadley’s delicate yet powerful movements on stage are enabled by the headset mic, Logan playing guitar increases the energy of the performance, and the sibling’s ability to arrange the songs live through their MIDI controllers allows for distinctive energy build ups that can be hard to achieve with a regular set up. Their ability to engage with the audience is second-to-none. I have no doubt that later dates would benefit from a spotless performance, after ironing out the technical issues.

Image via Silver Cup

The band played multiple unreleased songs that still engaged with the audience. All these, in addition to the three most recent singles (Away, Bizarre Love Triangle, and Kill For You) are part of the upcoming mixtape from the band, titled “Songs from a broken laptop”, coming on early August.

“In the process of moving from Utah to New York, having struck some luck with virality, we had multiple meetings with people within the music industry. They always asked, “where is your 10? where is that hit?”. We became obsessed with that idea, which allowed us to grow and write cool music. But having that as a forefront is not sustainable, especially if your hard work is not received as expected. After scrapping for that “ten”, exhausted from the burden, we changed our mind, reaching a point of us just wanting to have fun. This mixtape was created over the course of two months, on a broken laptop that was run over by a car on tour, in a time when there wasn’t much gas left in the tank. The title of the mixtape, “Songs from a broken laptop”, is true in more ways than one. Is the most honest work we have made to date and we hope people like it as much as we do. “

I have resonated with their music, especially their most recent releases. The three singles pose as the band’s most electronic-forward music yet. Their truly infectious rendition to New Orders’ Bizarre Love Triangle is a fun modernization that maintains the same gloomy feeling from the original. The themes touched in Away are true to the band’s core and ethos, growing up and changing. And Kill For You, which is probably my favorite of the three singles coming from the mixtape, is an energetic way to tell your significant other you would do anything for them. The sample played in the chorus paired with Hadley’s vocals are spot on, with everything brought together with the Reese bassline and the drum break made famous by The Winstons