This week, LG and A R I Z O N A (the band, not the state) hosted the LG TONE Studio Session in New York City.
It’s Thursday night. In a large loft in Manhattan’s Flatiron district, a number of technology tycoons and music moguls gather to celebrate a special collaboration. There’s a soft murmur of conversation as strangers and colleagues alike chat over cucumber margaritas and chilled wine. Off to one side stand three large listening booths. Inside, listeners place a headset around their neck with the speakers resting on their collarbones. Once the music plays, the listeners feel the beats lightly reverberating through their upper body, creating an experience that may be best described as “3D for sound.”
These worlds of music and technology came together to celebrate the recent release of the LG TONE Studio. The headset, in its unique design, combines immersion and portability to deliver top-quality Hi-Fi, personal surround sound. In addition to LG’S Frank Lee, the members of A R I Z O N A – Zach Hannah, Nate Esquite, and David Labuguen – joined the celebration to explore the future of music and technology. The result was an exclusive evening of delicious cocktails, top-class food and thought-provoking conversation
A R I Z O N A, releasing hits like “Oceans Away,” and “I Was Wrong,” are rapidly rising artists in the music industry. The night before the event in Manhattan, the band performed the final show of their current tour and has played large-scale festivals such as Firefly. Now, the artists are preparing for their first headline tour and engaging in creative collaborations such as the current venture with LG.
The night featured various interactive features from the listening booths to relaxed conversations before the main event: a sit-down meal with A R I Z O N A, Frank Lee, and various influencers from the music and technology industries. The conversation ranged from sharing childhood experiences with music to discussing the streaming services that have increased accessibility in the music industry to the evolution of listening devices. In sum, the event highlighted how music and technology have heavily influenced one another over the past decades and continue to do so. As Zach from A R I Z O N A stated during the conversation:
“You now have the ability to share a song with billions of people. If they like it, they like it. If they don’t, they don’t. That is a ball game that none of us have ever been to before. Of course, there are some growing pains but you can either go against the grain or go with it.”
A R I Z O N A and LG have decided to go with the grain. So far, it’s working as both teams are delivering incredible, top-notch products whether it is in the form of new devices or new tunes.
Before the event, we sat down with the members of A R I Z O N A to talk about the collaboration, musical influences, and future plans.
Listening to your music, it’s clear that your sound spans across multiple genres, time periods, and styles. Delivering a sound with such a broad range, who might you consider to be some of your greatest artistic influences?
Zach Hannah: Kenny Loggins. Chicago.
David Labuguen: Billy Ocean.
Z: Those are all the half joking answers.
D: I mean, I think they’re also pretty serious.
Z: That’s why they’re half joking! I think those are the funny ones but I also think that those are the obscure, sort of weird people that we love because of their odd musical tendencies.
D: Yeah, they’re timeless…just like us!
Z: We had a playlist that we made at the very beginning of the project called “Arizone.” It was just a bunch of cool stuff – a lot of it was indie – and that was what inspired us to create the first batch of four or five songs that we released.
Nate Esquite: A lot of it was Phantogram, Sufjan Stevens, Hearts, HAIM, and Bleachers.
The band’s background seems to be set mostly on the East Coast in places like Massachusetts and New Jersey. Since your story is rooted in these places, why did you choose the band name A R I Z O N A?
N: We’re actually the governors of Arizona.
Z: At one point or another, we all shared that so we figured…but really, we were in the process of making one or two songs for fun because we were for producing for songwriters for a long time. We hit a wall after many, many years of knowing each other and making music for other people. We made a song as a joke, somewhat by accident, which was “Let Me Touch Your Fire.” We just talked about making a band out of it. You know, we had nothing left to do and we thought, might as well just have fun on the way out because [we thought that] no one was ever going to hear [about the band] or care about it. We got to the point where we were like, “what should we name [the band]?” Dave pointed at Nate over FaceTime and Nate was wearing a hat with Arizona on it. Dave was like, “name it Arizona.” It got named after Nate’s hat.
Nate smiles and points to Zach’s current baseball cap, a plain navy blue with the letters U.S.A. embroidered in white thread on the front.
N: Had I been wearing [Zach’s] hat, we would’ve been called U.S.A.
We’re here tonight as part of LG’s TONE Studio session, celebrating music experiences and the brand’s latest headset. What drew you to this collaboration with LG?
Z: Well, I think technology and music. The theme of tonight is [combination of] the technology world and the music world, not only where it stands now but moving forward. You hear so many times about these technology companies organizing get togethers or galas or events, hooking in these cool kids to come in and make it fresh and that’s great but that’s not what tonight is [for us].
The band members look to one another and nod.
Z: We are musicians are only musicians in part…we’re also huge nerds. We love technology. We love so many different parts of that [world] that for us, that mix of [these] two worlds is very natural. So, when LG contacted us it seemed like a cool thing to have this showcase for this particular wireless headset that they’re [promoting]. They sent [the headsets] to us and they were awesome. I loved it right away…and so if the idea was to go some place and talk honestly about a cool product that’s using newer technology, to talk about how to move forward with that and how it affects musicians in the world? Well, yes! A million times yes, let’s do it, and here we are right now. Actually, we just got home today. We were on tour yesterday.
N: Our last show was last night.
Z: We flew from Arkansas – where we played out last show – here today, got changed in the hotel and came right here.
You guys are troopers!
Z: It’s alright!
D: Actually, I think being here was a cop-out because the rest of our crew is still driving.
N: They’re taking the 20-hour drive from Arkansas and we were like, “peace guys, we’re flying home!”
Z: We got lucky.
That’s wild. So, the band has just released an album and you’ve got lots of tour dates coming up! Besides these plans, are there any that you’d like to share?
Z: Everything. Lots of stuff happening.
D: I’d start with the tour. The tour is a big one. We’re really heavily involved with our visual branding. All of our visual branding is planned internally between us so, when we were planning the live show, we were like we’ve got to do something cool for the headliner. So, we’re in the middle of planning [the visuals] and the production. We’re constantly creating so there are some new tunes brewing. If we were making a stew, we would be searing the meat right now. (All laugh.)
Z: That’s about right. We’re going on our first ever headliner in September so we’re getting ready for that now with small legs of support tours. Directly following the headliner, we’ll begin working on the second album. On top of that, we’re making a whole bunch of video content that we’re going to be sponsoring on YouTube. There’s just lots of stuff that we’re going to be making from here until the end of the year.
Who are some artists that you would love to collaborate with on a track?
N: Jack Antonoff.
Z: Fetty Wap.
N: (Whispering.) Say Bruce Springsteen, it’s always Bruce Springsteen.
D: …Bruce Springsteen.
Z: Anyone who lives in New Jersey. We live in New Jersey so anybody who lives in Jersey.
Bringing it home. If you got the chance to completely change your sound, what genre would you choose?
D: Punk Rock.
N: I mean, we’re already Punk Rock so maybe –
N: Folk Metal.
D: Metal Flamenco.
N: Do you know what would be dope? What if we did like, Alt-Pop?
Z: Alt-Pop would be cool! Maybe we could do Alt-Pop.
N: A little bit of electronic influence. We could call it Post-Pop.
What’s your favorite music to listen to when you’re driving on tour?
N: Honestly, for me, just a lot of straight up Metal. A lot of Death Metal, a lot of Black Metal.
D: For me, I’ve actually been listening to a lot of Celine Dion. That’s not even a lie…it really keeps me going when I’m on a 12-hour drive. (Laughs.)
Z: Hype House all day! Throwback to Harlem House, Chicago House, just lots of cool music from the early ‘90s like The Garden State EP.
A R I Z O N A is available to stream on Spotify. Check out the band’s upcoming tour dates here.
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