80s new wave, punk and... EDM? Melting pot is a term that's thrown around – often carelessly – when discussing bands who aren't easily placed into any one scene or genre. But with their ambitious mix of sounds, LA-based band, Confusing Mix Of Nations – otherwise known as CMON – are thoroughly embracing the ethos with the release of their debut, self-titled album.
Formerly part of a band called Regal Degal, and part of New York’s DIY scene, Josh da Costa and Jamen Whitelock reinvented their sound under the new guise of CMON – a project they use to resist conforming to any one genre or sound. Influenced by 80s rock, disco, EDM and much more, CMON capture a distinctive sound that belongs to them alone.
Josh da Costa explains why he doesn’t want to stay confined to one specific genre in his music: “The music that we were playing [previously] felt less representative of what we all liked," he says. "I love rock music and I’ll always be a rocker… but I also love making music to make people dance. I don't wanna be this person that’s playing rock music but secretly working on club music… I’d rather try and find a happy medium between those two things."
Escaping what they felt to be restrictive boundaries in the New York music scene, da Costa and Whitelock started afresh in Los Angeles. Thus, CMON was formed, with the members now writing music that they wanted to hear, and shaking off the limitations that came from genre expectations.
“I decided that I want to make music without worrying about how it’s going to be played and who is going to play it," says da Costa. "I started recording it to the point where I could finally hear what I wanted to hear. I just want to do something different."
With influences spanning Grace Jones to My Bloody Valentine, the members take pride in how CMON subverts expectations: “I feel like this band doesn't exist in a specific time or space and that’s perfect. I wish I could sometimes settle on one thing and do that really well, like The Ramones, but that’s not how it was meant to be for me”.
Now, with the recent release of their debut album, via Mexican Summer Records, CMON not only work to subvert boundaries, but also to create a warm, vintage sound that urges the listener to get up and dance. Underpinned by the synth-driven, effects-heavy sound of the 80s, the album combines the danceable, uptempo grooves of disco with the disjointed sound of bands from the post-punk era.
The band also have a hands-on approach when it comes to the production of their music. Searching for authenticity and a personal touch in their album, da Costa and Whitelock maintain a ‘no-pro zone’ approach towards their sound: self-producing their work rather than relying on studio professionals.
Da Costa says this comes from the types of music he grew up with. Discussing his love of rebellious punk bands and the gritty sound of their albums, alongside his love of self-produced soul music, he states: “Part of me wants to make a happy, funky, feel-good record […but] I also want to make a broken-sounding record like great British post-punk bands”.
Personally crafting every aspect of the record, the band strive to create a specific atmosphere in their music, with each individual song resonating with their listeners on a deeper level: “I would rather people walk into a room and all of a sudden it feels like the entire atmosphere changes and there’s a little antigravity all of a sudden. […] I just want listeners to change and see life differently for a second. It’d be really cool [to hit them on an emotional level].”
Looking towards the future, the band are eager to ensure that they never settle on one definitive sound but instead constantly push the boundaries in their music. Always writing new material, CMON aim to surprise listeners and always be unpredictable with their ever-evolving sound.
Da Costa says he will do this by concentrating on experimentation: “A lot of stuff I liked when I was younger was heavy so I want to make [the next album] a bit darker,” he says.
“This record is really sweet and nice. It’d be great if you’ve just entered this nice, warm house and then, with the next record, the door slams and it locks and you're trapped! I would love to fuck with people like that – it’d be so fun”.
Confusing Mix Of Nations is available now via Mexican Summer Records. Tour dates have been postponed due to current circumstances and are to be released at a later date