Isaac King looked to the shaggy-haired drummer, quickly fixed his gray baseball cap and pushed his glasses closer to his face before strumming the first melancholy chord of “Pool House” by The Backseat Lovers. King and the drummer shared a brief moment, smiling at each other, before the band launched into a slow melody that mirrored the left-out-feeling lyrics of the song. King looked down to ensure his fingers were in the right place on his maroon bass guitar before each chord. As the intensity of the instrumentals increased, he and the other members started moving and rocking along to the indie-rock music more and more.
Although King just recently started playing the bass, he’d have most people fooled. A freshman music production major at Ohio University, King is one of the founding members of the student-run band, Lavandula. The band is composed of four members: King, Landon Elliott, Joey Negrete and Zach Winkleman, who all met within their first few weeks of college.
Currently, the members are trying to figure out Lavandula’s sound. They’ve been working on writing, solidifying and recording their music, which they hope to share on streaming services in the near future. They plan to record their first original song in the spring of 2022.
Lavandula has a unique style of music that Elliott, the guitarist, described as “experimental indie with psychedelic and rock/pop elements.” The band’s sound is consistent with its members’ tastes.
When asked about his favorite genre of music, King touched his black-painted fingernails to his chin.
“That’s like when you ask your mom her favorite kid,” King said. After a moment of thought, though, he said: “Psychedelic funk.”
When King’s high school made the switch to online learning, he decided to make use of the extra time he would spend at home. He scoured the internet and purchased a 90-dollar bass. It was the cheapest he could find, but enough to quench his musical curiosity. He optimized his practice time when his high school went online which allowed him to speed through the beginning stages of learning the bass. While others might have been trying to conceal their phones, he was trying to conceal his bass.
“I had nothing to do, so what I ended up doing, I'd have my online classes and would have the table in front of me and have the computer there, and the camera would show my shoulders and above,” King said. “For like six hours a day, I'd have my bass.”
On the first day of college, King and his roommate, Landon Elliott, who would later become Lavandula’s lead guitarist, played their instruments together in Lincoln Hall, the dorm for fine arts students at OU. After hearing them, another guitarist came over and started playing along. The three started playing together every day and quickly became friends. After they added a lead singer, a band was born. In five short months, Lavandula would post its first creation on YouTube: a cover of “Pool House” by The Backseat Lovers.
Because the band started during the coronavirus pandemic, it hasn’t known a time without limited performance opportunities and strict regulations. Although COVID-19 has made it hard for the band to get its name out there, Facebook moms continually come to the rescue. Without the power of moms on social media, Lavandula wouldn’t have been able to reach nearly as many with its first cover.
“(Landon’s) mom reposted it like everywhere on Facebook,” King said. “We had like 100-200 views the first two days. And then within four days, we had like 1,500 views. She's a menace. She’s really good at advertising and stuff.”
Lavandula plans to host Fridays Live, a Saturday Night Live style show at OU, on Mom’s weekend – which is perfect for some of its fan base. King joked that half of the band’s Instagram followers are moms.
Because artistic careers can be unpredictable and hard to navigate, parental support in the arts is often a hard thing to come by. Many parents don’t understand the benefits of arts education or don’t understand that it’s possible to make a living in the arts. The “starving artist” stereotype has instilled a deep fear in many and isn’t helpful to those who want to be supported while pursuing their passions. Although most will likely have to supplement their artistic work with other sources of income, the Lavandula band members know pursuing a career in the arts is tangible and something that should be embraced rather than feared.
Even if someone ultimately doesn’t decide to pursue a career in the arts, parental support in artistic endeavors has benefits that will last a lifetime. One study from The Kinder Institute found that arts learning experiences benefit students in terms of reductions in disciplinary infractions, increases in compassion for others and improvements in writing achievement. It also found that arts education experiences improve school engagement and college aspirations.
Lavandula seems to have lucked out in the “supportive moms” category.
“All of the moms are definitely supportive,” Elliott said.
As of right now, the members hope to become “the band” of Athens. They hope to eventually have a show at The Union. Some longer-term goals include getting gigs everywhere, playing in different cities. King isn’t too sure where the band will go in the future. Although he said he’d love to continue playing together, he recognizes that all of the band’s members have different aspirations.
“I think it'd be cool to pursue after college,” King said. “But at the same time, Joey, our singer, wants to go to New York to do Broadway. I don't know where I'm going to go, Landon doesn't know where he's going to go and Zack wants to do music therapy. We all have different paths. Hopefully, we stay together. If it's like that, that's great, because I can see them being my friends forever. But at the same time, we all have different values and different goals that we want to accomplish.”
Lavandula’s members are all freshmen, so the band’s future is a long time away. Right now, they’re focused on enjoying the time they have making music together.