Brooklyn Husband/Wife musical duo, Spotlights, have a fluid and palpable way of sharing that they have embedded their hearts and souls into their artistry and each other. Emitting the energy of genre-bending extremities through ‘Seismic’, the boundless field of creativity that Spotlights explores throughout their music is a treat to explore and endure. I caught up with the duo to discuss coming together as Spotlights, the recent release of ‘Seismic’, their tour tattoos in dedication to bands they have shared the stage with and more.
First and foremost, introduce yourself to our readers. Tell us about how you guys came together as a band and where you’re from.
Hi guys! It's Mario and Sarah from Spotlights! Sarah and I met in while we were living in San Diego in 2007. I'm originally from Miami and Sarah from Chicago. I owned a recording studio in San Diego called Black Box, where her old band, Marasol, came in to make a record. We became really good friends, and I was always impressed with Sarah's playing and ear for huge tone. A couple years later, we started going steady and one day, on a whim, decided to write and record a song together. It was such an easy and productive process and we knew it was something we would do again. Around that time we joined our friend Mike Hayden's project that became Sleep Lady. That band was great and we put all our efforts into that so Spotlights took a backseat for a few years. In 2013 we made the move to Brooklyn and started writing new material and haven't stopped since.
Congratulations on the release of your new LP, ‘Seismic’. Fill us in on the creative direction and process behind bringing the album to life.
Thanks! ‘Seismic’ came from a collection of ideas that were brewing since Tidals was being written, up until just before we went into the studio to record with Aaron. We recorded in LA at Palmquist Studios, and it was a great experience. We have recorded everything ourselves in the past and it was really nice to only concentrate on the music and performance side of things. We loved working with Aaron and completely trusted him to get the best results out of us and the songs. We also talked him into playing drums on four of the tracks!
On the album, there is a theme of cataclysm throughout (hence the name) and at the same time a thread of hope and beauty that comes along with the self-destruction of humanity.
Is your songwriting process a collaborative effort? Or does one individual spearhead that aspect?
I usually spearhead the initial writing of the songs, since I tend to get ideas as a whole with drums, guitars etc. I'll typically record a rough demo of it and then we both start arranging and adjusting things until we're happy with it.
If any of our readers have never been to Brooklyn, tell us about some of your favorite restaurants that you frequent and spots throughout the city that are a must-see.
Brooklyn is huge, and there's so much! Here are some of our favorites…
Saint Vitus bar for live shows
National in Ft. Green for Thai Food
Prospect Park for relaxing (there's a tree dedicated to Peter Steele there too!)
If you could add any tattoo to your current collection by any tattoo artist around the world, what would you get tattooed and which artist would you choose?
Sarah would get a floral half sleeve by Pete Zebley at Central Tattoo Studio in Philadelphia. I would get our two dogs’ (Melvin and Lulu) faces on my arm, haven't really found the right artist yet though so I'm looking for suggestions! Also we want to get milk and cookies as imagined by Buzz and drawn by Mackie Osborne.
You guys are on tour with The Melvins and actually just got tattoos in their honor. How did that come about? Have you been long-time fans of the band?
Yes! Especially Sarah. She has been a fan for 20 years. I came to them a little late but after finally seeing them live for the first time in 2009 I was hooked for good.
We like to get tour tattoos to commemorate the experience and we love the art for the new Melvins album so that was a no-brainer. We also have Deftones flamingo tattoos from our tour with them last year.
What has been the greatest challenge that you guys have encountered and overcome over your time of being a band?
We've been extremely lucky with this band. I think it's largely attributable to the fact that it's just the two of us dealing with everything that's involved in being a band. When you have too many egos making decisions is when you get issues. At the same time, our biggest challenge has been finding the right live drummer to fit our situation. We lucked out finding Chris Enriquez. He's incredible and we get along like family. Unfortunately, he has one of those job things that keeps him from being able to tour as much as we do, but we have a workaround for that. Challenges are great! it's the only way you learn.
If you could grab a drink with any musician either dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
For me, it would be Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. Those two embody music and expression in a way that's as pure and uninterrupted as it gets.
How has being a husband/wife duo affected your marriage in a positive way?
It's the best! We get to do what we live the most with the person we love the most.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?
It might sound a little cliche but we seriously couldn't do what we're doing without our fans. We love connecting with them and hearing stories of how they heard of us or what our music means to them. So, Thank you!! And we love you! Thanks!