SAN DIEGO NATIVES, FOLLIN + OBLIVION, CHAT CULTS’ UNEXPECTED RISE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
Story by Kate Kilgour
As I spoke with Ryan Oblivion and Madeline Follin of the band CULTS leading up to their Toronto stop for NXNE, they were sitting in a vehicle outside of a record shop in Oxford, England awaiting their in-store performance. CULTS, who initially broke onto the music scene while studying in New York, have the mysterious air one would expect from an eerie, almost spooky project. As their name alluded, this seemed to be fitting, on paper. “There was no marketing plan to be mysterious,” the two explain. “We didn’t think anything would happen of the music… As time went on, we did try to be as private as possible, though.”
Their music is not as dark as the name implies, either. Their set at Lee’s Palace for NXNE was bubbling with light, airy vocals by Follin, as she gleamed in a trim, white dress. Other than the flowing hair of the band, Oblivion’s in particular, CULTS are neat. Though their name and initial mystery may conjure images of bizarre, West Coast séances, the light tinkering on tracks like ‘Go Outside’ is matched with pleasantness and summer tinges. Their packed NXNE midnight show was a testament to their uncluttered, almost romantic indie-pop.
The video for ‘Abducted’ still keeps the two’s intentions a tad unpredictable. Made by David Altobelli, whom they met at SXSW, Oblivion says that the director tried to jive with the aesthetic of CULTS. “It’s kind of a literal take on the song,” Oblivion explains. “The push and pull between relationships. We tried to stay out of it, because we tried to make our own video before and it failed miserably.” Having a hand in the casting, though, “we wanted it to the actors that usually never get the jobs. We kind of wanted it to be a little bit confusing”.
Having toured pretty much non-stop in support of their immediately lovable debut, self-titled album, Oblivion and Follin tell me that they enjoy the process. [It’s] “one of those things that while you’re doing it, after the first two weeks, it’s kind of the most fun thing, because you get to connect with your fans and hang out.” Plus, having shared lineups with groups such as Morning Benders, Best Coast and Twin Sister the company isn’t bad either.
Continuing to tour at the moment through Europe before returning to the US, the two plan to take some time while on the road to release some remixes and a hip-hop mixtape featuring up-and-coming artists. Taking their newfound fame, veiled identity and globetrotting schedule in stride, Follin adds, “We had no idea any of this was going to happen. We didn’t really hope for anything, didn’t really have any plans… We got really lucky.”
CULTS music and self-titled album are available here