Overcoats, an electronic music duo that’s been said to draw its strength from vulnerability, finding light through darkness, and the catharsis of simple, honest songwriting, is making its way to the Independent in San Francisco on Dec. 9. The band comprised of JJ Mitchell and Hana Elion has been riding high on the success of their most recent release Young, that Billboard included in their top albums of the year citing it to be “supported by infectious electronic beats that can both amp up intensity and diminish for more tender moments — that help their painfully relatable (though often minimal) lyrics hit home.”
In between selling out venues around the country in the spring, the duo found some time to answer some questions for us where we discussed everything from what the meaning of their band name is, to how they go about songwriting, to what we can all expect at their San Francisco show.
Let’s go back to the beginning. How did you two meet and when did you first know that you wanted to create music together?
JJ: We met our first week of freshman year at Wesleyan University. We lived in the same dorm.
Hana: We remained friends all four years of college but I don’t think we knew we wanted to write music together until we did it…our senior year. So it took us 3.5 years to figure it out. We had always sung covers together, just for fun, but had never sat down to write a song together.
How did you guys come up with the name for the band and what’s the meaning behind it?
JJ: We wanted a name that would act like a coat of armor. Something that could protect us, genderless, ambiguous.
Hana: I think we just came up with it and it stuck! It felt right.
Can you describe your songwriting process?
JJ: We write in a number of different ways, depending. Sometimes we’ll sit and write a song together from start to finish, line by line.
Hana: Other times we bounce voice memos and emails back and forth and sort of build together songs out of snippets that we’ve each been working on separately.
Your sound is a mix of so many different musical elements. Where does the inspiration to draw from so many different types of sounds come from?
JJ: We both had very similar musical influences growing up (Simon & Garfunkel, Amy Winehouse, Cold Play) and we gravitate towards the same music nowadays.
Hana: We love a four on the floor dance beat just as much as we love moving lyrics of heartbreak and transformation. Both made it into our musical style.
How has your sound evolved since your first EP?
JJ: Just as all musicians’ sound evolves over time, ours developed into a slightly more high fi sound with more depth and dynamics.
Hana: This was partly a desire of ours and a matter of circumstance. We were able to record in a lovely studio for our debut album which opened up a lot more opportunities to expand our sound, beyond our EP (which was written mostly in GarageBand).
If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Hana: Bob Dylan
JJ: James Blake
What’s one thing that you’ve learned about the music industry that you wish you could have known earlier?
JJ: It’s really important to believe in yourself and your work.
Hana: So many people along the way try to contribute to your art, and it’s important to make sure your vision is always intact.
What have you got lined up for the rest of 2017?
Hana: Writing new music and playing shows!
JJ: It’s really exciting to be playing new stuff for crowds. And see how they react…
You’re playing the Independent in San Francisco in December. What do you like to do when you’re here?
Hana: Eat delicious food, see friends, and wear really good coats.
JJ: Also, shopping.
What can we expect at your upcoming live show?
JJ: Crazy lights and dance moves!!
Hana: Expect to laugh, dance and sob in the same hour.
What’s one thing that many people would be surprised to find out about you?
Hana: We’re big knitters.
JJ: Also, we exclusively watch The Mindy Project on tour
Overcoats play the Independent Sat, Dec 9, 2017 Doors: 8:30 pm / Show: 9:00 pm $15.00
Buy tickets HERE