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Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Artistic Approach: Balancing textured sounds and catchy beats.
It’s hard to learn to share your creative process.
But this proved to be a game-changing decision for electronic musician Ben Runyan, who teamed up with guitarist and classic rock lover Jarrett Zerrer in 2010 – giving a few Facebook messages credit for the formation of Philadelphia’s buzz worthy electro-rock duo, City Rain.
“We’re like yin and yang,” Runyan says of their musical partnership. “I’m kind of the crazy impulsive one who says, ‘Hey, let’s do this, let’s do this, let’s do this,’ and Jarrett’s the one who wants to take a lot more time on it and flesh out certain ideas.”
“It’s a very delicate balance,” Zerrer adds.
Though their process is delicate, the product is larger-than-life. While a dreamy, texturized sound and fuzzy surf rock elements populate some songs off of their latest I’m Gone EP, others provide a catchy dance beat that has captivated live audiences in Philly, Washington, D.C. and New York.
“There’s no part in our set where you can’t see the cause and effect relationship between what we’re doing with our hands and what’s happening [sonically].”
Runyan says the band’s live set is much different and more interactive than other electronic acts. “With a lot of electronic bands, maybe you’ll have a person singing, a person playing an instrument and then you’ll have two people on stage that you’re not even really sure what they’re doing,” he says. “There’s no part in our set where you can’t see the cause and effect relationship between what we’re doing with our hands and what’s happening [sonically].”
This visual element has helped City Rain bridge the gap between pop, rock and electronic fans, Runyan says. But tackling such an undertaking isn’t really the band’s agenda while they’re writing. Runyan explains that lyrics start with an autobiographical narrative fresh in his mind. This is supplemented with beats and guitar parts that are more like rambles of genius than meticulously thought-over arrangements.
“I know it sounds cheesy and typical, but I kind of just let whatever’s happening in our lives flow, especially when we’re both working together,” Zerrer says. In the time between releases (they will drop a new EP in May), City Rain is constantly working on remixes and new songs. They also cite making music videos as a low-cost way to get attention and let people know what you’re all about.
“When you look at a music video of us, you can tell that, ‘Number one, these guys look like they’re having fun; and number two, they look a little crazy,” Runyan says. “I think it’s the best possible medium to immediately attract someone to your music.”
photo by G.W. Miller III