In Conversation: Origami Angel Tours Us Through Their Gorgeous Debut, Somewhere City

Bored at the office one day I started scrolling thru twitter dot com and saw that fans were hunting online for a new Origami Angel song they had leaked online to promote their new album, Somewhere City. With time to kill and an eagerness to get my Scooby Doo on I started poking around their promotional tourism website hoping that I’d be jamming out in no time. Before I realized how deep I was I started filling out crossword puzzles trying to get access to password protected webpages and was reading blog posts from 2017 trying to put the clues together. As I looked around and observed it was now 7:30 PM and my office had mostly cleared out I realized that my day had been completely consumed by Somewhere City, an allegedly fictional city whose existence I was starting to convince myself of. This leaking of single Skeleton Key and the extensive sequence fans had to go thru to unlock it were just a small sliver contributing to the greater mythos being created around Somewhere City both as an album and as a place, and all I could think was if this was the effort they were putting into the promo imagine how inspired the album was about to be.

For the uninitiated, Origami Angel is a two piece emo band from Washington D.C. who have been building a strong buzz in the DIY community on the back of some stellar EP’s and a lauded live act. Their Gen 3 EP, released in May of this year, garnered significant attention outside the traditional DIY scene with tracks named for and inspired by the third generation of Pokémon games. The tape converted so many to fans because while the Pokémon inspiration was fun and lighthearted the songs themselves were gorgeous and as deep as Ruby and Sapphire combined.

With the release of their debut album for Chatterbox Records, Somewhere City, Origami Angel continues to make tracks that balance delving into deep life encompassing topics with the humor that it can often take to get through the day. Lead singer Ryland Heagy has one of the breeziest voices in emo right now which makes the music some of the most approachable in the scene, even with their extremely technical guitar work and drumming. Gami’s instagram bio right now is “made a soft emo album 🗝️ then discovered blastbeats🥤 ” which is a perfect oversimplification of what makes this album so unique. The drumming and guitar work makes all these tunes feel like they are going a hundred miles an hour, as a song like 666 Flags makes you feel like you’re quite literally flying around on the Kingda Ka with the wind blowing thru your hair, but the light vocals keep things from ever feeling that heavy or inaccessible. Its quite an accomplishment, being able to balance the intense noodling while still making songs that my mom can (and does) jam along to, and balancing the seriousness of the topics at hand with the humor inherent to the absurdity of human life. This album is their most proper release to date and is a genuine step up from their previous efforts. There is not a single skippable track on this record, as every song brings something unique to the table the paints a complete picture of what/where Somewhere City is. We were lucky enough to pick lead singer Ryland Heagy’s brain to get his thoughts about the album, its grandiose roll out, and the emo scene as a whole.

Grandma Sophia: I want to start with the most pressing questions at hand. Are we certain that the invading forces that attacked Somewhere City are never going to return? This feels all too similar to the lead up to the Second Impact, and I don’t want Somewhere City to end up like NeoTokyo 2, especially with the spherical being whose sighting was reported on 11/5/19 baring incredible similarities to the 12th Angel Leliel.

Origami Angel: I sure hope they never return. In the video for Doctor Whomst, I think we do a good job at sending the message that Earth, and more importantly Somewhere City, is protected by Origami Angel. We will be here for the time being, so as long as the city has us, we will be ready to defend it in our Gamis spaceship.

GS:Is Don the Webmaster safe? The people have a right to know.

OA: We have reached out to Don and can confirm that he is safe. We appreciate all the work Don has done on the website for the last month or so, including letting us premier videos through the city’s site. He’s also apparently a fan of the band. Cool stuff, Thanks Don!

THIS is the Rorscharch Test Image

GS: Let’s do a quick Rorscharch test. What comes to mind when you see THIS image?

OA: Fear. Happy Meals? Tomatoes…

GS: This has been one of the most inspired album roll outs I’ve seen in a while, with posts on the Maverick Blogspot dating all the way back to 2017. What was the catalyst for the secret hidden tracks, the messages hidden deep in your website(s), and everything going on at the Instagram?

OA: When we were writing this record and we solidified the concept in our minds, we kind of knew we wanted to present this record in a way we hadn’t done before. Lex, our manager and the owner of Chatterbot Records, helped us put together this super fun rollout with many secrets hidden in plain sight! The catalyst was more or less just us wanting to do something fun and fresh with the release of these new songs, and we’re super stoked that people have been enjoying it!

GS: Somewhere City in its lore is a beautiful town that serves as a scientific hub leading in space exploration, and it is present throughout the album. What is your view of the city? Is it a real place in your mind/in reality? At the least is it inspired by any place or places you’ve been to? Or just meant to be the backdrop of the ideas you’re putting forth with the album and its roll out?  

OA: I think Somewhere City is kinda all of the above. In my head, Somewhere City is an escape. My view of the city is a peaceful place, with something for everyone, and no walls or boundaries. It’s where I want to be, and I can be there whenever I want to. For a listener, the city can be wherever they want it to be. 

GS: Leaving home and trying to find a place that you can call your own seems to be a big theme on this record, most prominently seen in closing song The Air Up Here. Was this a reflection of what you were going thru in your lives? What in general inspired this record?

OA: A big part of Somewhere City is that theme of finding where you belong! I think it’s a universal experience, and part of why we chose to write this album in this format is because we think it’s really interesting to write about topics like that with a destination in mind. It kinda brings new perspectives! Definitely for me (Ryland), the last few years that we’ve been writing this LP have been very challenging for me to find my own place in the world. Music and the DIY scene has really helped me step into a place where I feel like I belong, and Somewhere City was written along that journey of belonging. The Air Up Here is definitely the pinnacle of these feelings coming to fruition, alongside a newfound self actualization which I think is sorta the emotional peak and embodiment of this record.

Artwork for Single Dr. Whomst,
photo taken by Bethünni Schreiner

GS: Your band sits in an interesting spot where it’s clear you don’t like to take yourselves all too seriously but still clearly work incredibly hard at pulling off the jokey stuff you do. For example a song like Doctor Whomst has a relatively goofy song title but to then make it a self-reflective track about feeling like a time machine is bringing you back to your youth and feeling like yourself for the first time since then is poignant in a way you might not expect it to be going in. How do you see yourselves toeing the line between not taking things too seriously and taking things seriously? Is that something you even think about or is it all just a natural reflection of the people making the music?

OA: Honestly for myself as a writer, I try to make our topics as transparent and accessible as possible. I think the most real subjects in life do have undertones of humor and silliness, and for me it’s just been a way I can more adequately communicate certain feelings and ideas! You can definitely write more non-serious music and still dip into more serious subjects, and I think that makes the more serious stuff even more important. We are both very laid back as a band, and I think it makes those ideas come off a little more naturally. For us, this music is really just about having fun, and conveying the message we want to convey while doing that! 

GS: The album sounds gorgeous and professional. What was it like working with Jake Checkoway on the album? He’s recorded several of my favorite albums from this year.

OA: Thank you!! Yeah, Jake absolutely killed it on the recording, mixing and mastering of this record. He’s super laid back and we clicked pretty much from the get go. He’s so good at balancing hard work and production knowledge with also maintaining a fun atmosphere that allows musicians to thrive. Jake has mixed and mastered our 3 previous releases, but this is the first one he had full recording control and everything over, and I think it definitely sounds the best to date!!

GS: Looking at r/emo whenever a new band posts a song going “Listen to us if you like:____” Origami Angel is among the most frequently listed bands that I’ve seen. Have you ended up finding any good bands that said they were inspired by your work? In tune who are the bands that impacted you guys and inspired you to make this record?.

OA: I honestly am blown away that people are inspired by us!! it’s a crazy cool feeling. some cool ass newer bands that I’ve seen list us as a FFO have been Guitar Fight From Fooly Cooly and Hospital Bracelet. Those bands are doing really cool things and it’s badass that we could be considered an inspiration. it’s especially really cool because i definitely found out about those bands in ways not related to Gami, i just really love their songs and approach. recently on twitter, the band Equipment said that our EP Doing the Most was a big inspiration for their most recent EP Madrigal. that’s crazy to me because me and Nick are really good friends, and it made me really happy because of how great that EP is. i had been bumping it non-stop before i saw that thing about Doing the Most, and it caught me by surprise. As far as bands that inspire us, The Obsessives, and Prince Daddy & The Hyena have been a huge influence into really the shaping of this band. Seeing such cool people continuously do cool stuff has really inspired us to kinda do that ourselves!! Those two bands definitely have left their mark on how we approach writing music, as well as just being a band in general. Also, i gotta throw some love to Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! for musically inspiring me a ton in a way I didn’t expect at first. EZcore for life.

GS: There is a new crop of emo bands that somehow all seem to be best friends online despite living hours apart. How did this kinship between bands like you Niiice, Stars Hollow, Jail Socks, and the dozen or so other emo bands on the rise come to be?

Artwork for Single 24 Hour Drive-Thru

OA: I think the first out of any of those bands I knew was Jail Socks. I remember seeing them on Reddit the day their initial release, No Promises came out on streaming. I absolutely loved that music, and reached out to them on social media and all that. Stars Hollow was getting a ton of hype in the same way, and I think Tyler (the front person of Stars) and I both started hyping up the other’s band on twitter around the same time. With Niiice. I had always seen people talking about them on the internet and once we finally met in real life, we just became best homies. I think with all of those bands it started on social media, and then seeing that there was a collective group of listeners who all liked all of our bands. Then on top of that, we all really dig each other as people and it’s been a good wholesome time. Of course, alongside meeting people through the internet, we’ve also had a ton of friends in our local, more IRL scene like Commander Salamander and Sammy Heck to name a few. 

GS: A generation ago a whole bunch of emo bands moved to Philly, got big in that scene and found wider acclaim from there, and now your generation seems to have a fully-fledged scene that exists primarily on twitter and constantly on the road. Is there any desire for a city for you all to descend upon and make the next emo town (maybe Somewehre City??) or do you think you’re all better off building your local scenes and basically hitting shows in every little pocket of the country that has an emo scene in your band’s radius?

OA: I really like where things are right now, there are tons of super cool scenes everywhere and every scene is growing on its own. That is super dope to me. I love our scene here in the DC area, and I definitely want to see this scene continue to grow, and help in all the ways I can. It’s also really cool to see different friends on like every night of a tour.

GS: Having toured all over what is your favorite DIY venue you’ve played? Best show you’ve played? Any place that brought a way bigger or more passionate crowd than you were expecting?

OA: Our favorite DIY venue we’ve played has got to be the first DIY venue we ever played: Grateful Acres in Fallston, MD. I think it also holds the title of favorite show we’ve ever played, either tied between our return show from our first full US tour, or Deep Sea Fest 2, where we played a battle set with Commander Salamander. A couple other shows right up there at the top would be DIY Prom, where we played another battle set with Commander Salamander, or our set from FEST 18 last weekend! 

GS: How psyched are you for Pokemon Sword and Shield? Any video games you’re playing or tv shows you’ve been watching lately that have inspired you? Most importantly, who are you maining in Ultimate right now?

OA: Unfortunately, in regards to Pokémon Sw/Sh, I don’t have a switch and probably will not have the means to afford one at any time soon, so as psyched as I could be for Sword and Shield, I’m trying not to get myself worked up for something I won’t have access to for a bit. Same goes for Ultimate. Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of Pokémon Omega Ruby, and watching a ton of Agents of Shield!

Update: After our interview Chatterbot Records came thru and surprised Ryland with a Switch!!!

Listen to Somewhere City on Bandcamp, Spotify, or Apple Music, and follow Gami on insta, tweeter, or the good book.