Months after the two were encouraged to band together, Ysa Stepp finally worked up the courage to send Joe Sandholtz a voice recording. Almost immediately, the two discovered that musical collaboration felt easy and natural—Homephone was born.
With her eye for visual art, Stepp designs and creates all of Homephone’s unique album art. The pair being co-writers, Stepp tends to do more vocals for the band where Sandholtz tackles most of the production. “A lot of Homephone is just instinct,” says Sandholtz. “[In] a lot of our sessions, we just start totally from scratch,” building off each other’s strengths to develop a track. “We’ll make full songs and then we’ll be like, ‘So, what is this about?’ And we’ll figure it out after the song’s already done,” he says.
With their first album release, Melon Collie, the duo continued this easy and playful creation. Featuring 10 tracks, the project came together over the past two years. “A lot of the songs are about nostalgia and childhood and how nostalgia can become a bad thing if you’re living in the past too much,” says Stepp. It features upbeat tempos with melancholy lyrics, a similar juxtaposition present in the album art, where bright colors contrast the dog’s sad expression. It’s a clever play on words: “Melon Collie” sounds like “melancholy,” and it is, in fact, an artistic exploration into the woes of childhood. A childhood that, for Stepp, involved plenty of fruit and dogs.
Listen to this Soundwaves episode to hear the album’s closing track, “Kaleidoscope Roses,” which focuses on the complexities of a parent-child relationship growing up. For Stepp, “this is definitely the song I poured out my soul the most in as far as lyrics go,” she says.
Follow the band on Instagram @homephone_band to keep up with their shows and releases. Catch them perform live at the upcoming SLUG Picnic—an outdoor, bring-your-pets event—on June 25 alongside The Plastic Cherries and Cardboard Club. Tickets are available here.