Space Captain is a Brooklyn based psych-soul band signed to UK's Tru Thoughts and includes members Maralisa Simmons-Cook (vocalist/lyricist), Alex Pyle (bass and production), Gray Hall (guitar and production), Mike Haldeman (guitar), Joey Ziegler (drums), Joy Morales (keyboard) and Lessie Vonner (trumpet). Lauren Laverne of BBC Radio 6 Music calls them "really interesting...a sound of their own."
Their initial release, Easier / Remedy, a double A-side reissue of two early tracks, received heavy play from Don Letts (BBC 6Music) and new music guru John Kennedy on his XFM X-posure show. In a period of open-minded experimentation via live shows and studio jams, Space Captain have alighted on a progressive fusion of r&b and psychedelic rock with tentacles spinning out into soul, hip hop, electronica and noise. The In Memory EP finds singer/lyricist Maralisa Simmons-Cook exploring darker, more personal subjects with themes of mourning, the life cycle, lightness verses darkness, death and rebirth. In Memory has since seen notable play on Spotify's Fresh Finds Playlist, BBC Radio 6 Music and Bandcamp Weekly. Michael Gonzales (The Wire) wrote, "Space Captain's embrace of beauty is obvious. But it's nice to know they can get ugly when they want to."
Out 1st September, the “Sycamore” single brings an eagerly awaited taste of new music from Space Captain and an upfront glimpse of their first full album (set for a late October release). On this fresh new material the young Brooklyn band channel seemingly disparate genres including R&B, indie, psych rock and jazz into a stirring, progressive proposition laced with stealthily addictive hooks. These latest studio developments follow impressive support for their early single and EP releases, across BBC 6Music, Radio X, The Wire, Okayplayer, Line Of Best Fit, Revive Music and Clash, to name a few.
“Sycamore” tells a lyrical, folk-flavoured tale of complicated love, the lilting voice of singer and songwriter Maralisa Simmons-Cook melding with heavily effected guitars and synths alongside live and digital beats and brass flourishes. “The story is based on a tumultuous love triangle my dad was thrown into post-college”, she explains; “He told me this story one summer, behind a bar in Brooklyn called Sycamore. It's a tale of love and betrayal, about trying to win back a lover, and the issues that arose between three best friends”.
Producer and bassist Alex Pyle, who co-founded Space Captain with Maralisa while both studying at New York’s New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, worked closely in the studio with Maralisa and guitarist/producer Gray Hall, bouncing ideas off each other to build the fundamentals of the track. Then came the vital input of bandmates Mike Haldeman (guitar), Joey Ziegler (drums), Joy Morales (keyboard) and Lessie Vonner (trumpet), all increasingly in-demand young players in their own right, the latter even being snapped up for some recent sessions for Beyoncé. Flowing through the song's veins are eclectic influences ranging from Thundercat through Unknown Mortal Orchestra to Bon Iver, but Space Captain are never anything but themselves, as they demonstrate with a trumpet outro that comes bounding out of the lush indie-pop undergrowth for a sweet curve-ball of a finish.
Maralisa's maturity as a singer sees her infusing lofty, looping vocal layers with the emotional weight of deeply felt personal stories – many recalled from her own experience, and others absorbed with a poet’s sensibility from other sources. This rare quality has been heightened as the creative partnership with Alex has developed over the last five years: “We have gotten more experimental with vocal recording techniques, and we've both realized we should be utilizing different parts of my voice, so we've started recording whistle tones, whispers, murmuring and so on, to add a fullness to the track”.
On the live stage, Space Captain have been carving a niche between New York’s R&B/soul and indie rock scenes. Building on past shows alongside BADBADNOTGOOD and Ghostface Killah, notable gigs of late include several Sofar Sounds sets; a two-header with Palehound; a residency with Kendra Morris, Jake Sherman, Nadia Washington and Sly5thAve; and a Rough Trade gig with Khruangbin, where the Texan smooth psych masters featured an inspirational AV show by Drippy Eye Projections, who Space Captain promptly enlisted to make the music video for "Sycamore."