Blake Owens and Seth Radnall once shared an apartment with a friend named Cliff.
"Cliff didn't eat fruits or vegetables and played more video games than imaginable," Radnall recalled. "Dude was a peculiar guy, to say the least, and a super good friend, so we thought it would be funny to name the band after him. At the same time, the name Cliffs connotes something beautiful, idyllic and dangerous. The name satisfies the comedic side of our band, but at the same time, there is a sense of beauty to it."
Owens, a bass player, and Radnall, who plays the synth and keys, created the Salt Lake City-based electro-pop band Cliffs with guitarist and singer Adam Anderson, guitarist Jake Thiede and drummer Cameron Jorgensen, the only native Utahn in the group.
On Jan. 30, Cliffs debuted its EP "Experiments," and the band's record made a big splash.
Radnall talked to The Tribune about the band, where its inspirations come from and where art comes from.
Why do you call your EP "Experiments"?
This EP is literally just that. Everything you hear is just us tooling around with instruments and software and getting a feel for what sounds we want and enjoy. It's like we've got a bunch of musical test tubes and we are causing mini-explosions, unearthing new elements and, God forbid, creating Frankenstein's monster. The name was fitting because as a band we were also experimenting with each other five guys in a room tinkering with noises can be pretty surprising.
Whom do you derive your influences from?
Bowie, MGMT, Flaming Lips. I would say that we have been influenced by these artists, but I'm not sure if we sound much like them. Blake has a good ear for pop-contemporary bands like Foster the People and M83, where I might create a verse that might sound like Ziggy Stardust or T Rex. We kind of put things in a blender and make a weird smoothie of tunes.
How do you try to distinguish yourself from other acts in the area?
I would say that our quality of production sets us apart from many bands. We wanted to hit the SLC scene with something people could take home and re-create on their computers or stereo. We wanted to create an EP that people could listen to anytime, any place, anywhere, and was recorded somewhat nicely. Another distinguishing factor of our band would be our poppy side. We have some catchy licks that might make your head bounce, even if you might not want it to.
At what point does making something turn into making art?
Tough questions. I think our band makes a song art once it becomes accessible to someone and touches them in a way. You have to create something that stirs emotions or thoughts or senses. We had one guy email our band saying that he set one of our songs as his alarm clock every morning. For me that was a big acknowledgment that we had created art, something that someone could access and feel.
Where you would like to see yourself on Dec. 31, 2013?
It would be awesome to be signed and touring. Playing a gig in Wisconsin would be cold and fun. Or New Orleans on New Year's. We'll be at one of those two places, I'm calling it now.
O Listen to the band's "Experiments" at cliffs1.bandcamp.com/