Record sales are no longer the foremost metric for music industry success in this Information Age. But thriving in arts and entertainment has always meant offering an engaging live element as well. Modern technology affords us the ability to create content and collaborate, entirely in digital space. For Gold Koa, an indie-pop trio founded in Rochester, the work goes on even while bandmates are on opposite sides of the country.In January, the group released first single, "Little Lost." Almost a year later, the group is preparing to play their first live set as part of the 2018 Rochester Fringe Festival.
Gold Koa began taking shape in the summer of 2012, when producer, drummer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Battle met singer-songwriter Cammy Enaharo at the open mic she had been hosting at Boulder Coffee in the South Wedge. Amid their burgeoning friendship, they recorded a song called "Turning Leaves," which they've reimagined with Gold Koa, to be released soon. In autumn of that same year, Battle was attending Finger Lakes Community College, studying music production. He had been looking for a bassist to play with when he met Kamara Robideau, a guitar student looking to play bass in a band.
Over the next year, a demo for what would become "Little Lost" formed between Battle and Robideau. In 2014, Enaharo began to contribute to the song and breathe new life into it. After sharing with Enaharo what they were building, her "vocals and lyrics immediately fit the vibe and enhanced everything about the music," Battle recalls via email. "We did a handful of sessions to flesh out the arrangement and create context for the vocals. By the end of it all, 'Little Lost' was born."
In 2017, Battle and Robideau moved to Los Angeles, where they work in media and do various session work. The two are no strangers to collaborating online. Aside from working with Los Angeles bands and projects, Battle collaborates with Rochester-based artists online, exchanging ideas and material via phone calls, texts and video chats. He recently wrapped production on albums for Rochester bands Calicoco and Great Red. Battle and Robideau also play in another Rochester-born project called Oh Manitou.
Gold Koa's music is generally produced layer by layer in the studio. "Usually Kamara and I try to have a rough arrangement of an idea solidified before showing Cammy," says Battle. Enaharo then typically adds melodies and lyrics, with her bandmates providing feedback. "In a way, we're kind of producing each other, but the lines blur quickly."
The trio's eclectic influences are apparent in "Little Lost." Battle says his style is in large part influenced by the West Coast culture he spent his teens and early twenties enjoying — artists like Thundercat and Little Dragon. Robideau has spent time studying and transcribing the music of Paul Simon and John Wizards. Enaharo cites songwriters like SZA and Regina Spektor as inspirations.
So far, the group's style is an amalgam of electronic timbres, hook-driven motifs, and diverse instrumentation. Their developing palette features a fresh lyrical approach, evocative harmonic intuition, and astute arrangements — all of which evoke a sense of optimistic wanderlust. Fans of artists like Fleet Foxes, Wild Nothing or Lorde will appreciate Gold Koa's nascent aesthetic.
Looking forward, the trio is planning an EP release in early 2019, followed by more live shows. You can hear "Little Lost" on Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Spotify. It features Oh Manitou's Andrew Links on keyboards and Chris Potter on guitar, who will be joining Gold Koa on stage at Rochester Fringe Festival.
Gold Koa's first performance is on Friday, September 21st, 8 p.m. at the Rochester Fringe Festival on the Gibbs Street stage. Free show.
This article has been updated to match the version that appears in the September 19 print issue of CITY.