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Editor's note: KSL.com does a weekly feature on local musicians/bands in the community. If you have an up-and-coming band/musician in mind, feel free to email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a contact email for the artist, if available.SALT LAKE CITY — Kenny Sanders, one-third of the Los Angeles band Sonder Saloon, wears many hats. He is a children’s book author,entrepreneur and musician. Originally from Utah, Sanders moved to California in search of more life experience to pursue those endeavors.
In 2015, an ad on Craigslist brought Sanders together with twin brothers Gary and Kaspar Kazazian and Sonder Saloon was born.
“We started geeking out on (our) music influences. When we decided to meet up, the vibe was there immediately. We not only became a band but great genuine friends,” Sanders said.
The three of them took to nature, opposite of their day-to-day lives. While totally disconnected from the bustle of their typical L.A. life, they embraced the solitude that allowed them to create their EP Mackinaw.
“We wanted to write music from our true selves without being influenced by daily stresses in busy Los Angeles, California. We made the decision to escape to my small family cabin in Fishlake, Utah, for three weeks," Sanders said. "The cabin doesn't have cellphone service, cable or Wi-Fi. The entire Fishlake area doesn't have cell service, actually, so it's a 100 percent disconnect from the world we are all used to.”
The disconnection worked in their favor because from that, several emotionally driven, powerful songs were written and later recorded. When asked about the influence behind them, it wasn’t hard to grasp the almost metaphoric, yet simple answer.
“We enjoy road trips, hiking and fishing, so it was a perfect getaway," Sanders said. "Gary and Kaspar are amazing ocean fishermen out here on the west coast, so they were excited to fish in a lake since they are mainly used to the ocean.”
He then went on to explain how they came up with the title of their EP.
“Fun fact, our EP is called Mackinaw because that's the biggest fish in Fishlake. We went out on the lake every day trying to catch one but were unsuccessful," Sanders said. "I think one of us claimed to halfway reel one in, but it got away before we could see it. A classic fishing story... So we decided to name the EP after what we tried so desperately to catch.”
Catch they did, and it’s clear when you listen to the EP in its entirety. It drifts almost naturally from one song to the other with some beautiful strings and piano to accompany the evocative lyrics. That being said, every song on the EP has a different tone. They do not mimic each other even a little, and they show the depth and growth of this band even over a three-week span. What you may compare to standard indie rock at first listen, changes from track to track. One of Sanders' main influences, The Beach Boys, starts to trickle in with the overlapping harmonies and upbeat melodies among the stirring arrangements.
“We took the first week doing all that fun stuff while getting used to putting down our phones and laptops before we started our writing process," Sanders said. "This way we would be relaxed and influenced by mountain living. The writing process was ‘pure’ I'd like to say. Writing just happened naturally and flowed very well. We'd wake up early, and Gary would start playing random stuff on his guitar. We would point out what chords caught our ears and started from there."
It seemed to be the perfect combination. Between the isolation and the fishing, they were able to produce something of substance and something they're proud of. Not only did they accomplish their goal of writing some expressive music, but they have a reason to return to the cabin to possibly create more.
“The fishing story will always be a classic tale of us. We actually have a special fishing hook we named 'The Sonder Hook.' We know it's magic but it wasn't our time to catch the mackinaw on that trip. We are hoping to catch one on our next trip.”