Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Tropicanas are BACK with their highly anticipated brand NEW EP: ‘Calypso Kool’

Ironically named due to Scotland’s stereotypical gloomy weather and their ultimate desire for warmer climates, West-Lothian band The Tropicanas are back with the release of their latest EP, ‘Calypso Kool.’ The Scottish quintet burst onto the scene in 2015 and have attracted an impressive range of airplay from BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio Scotland and their diverse range of musical releases capturing national attention. 

Extremely hands-on; The Tropicanas write, record and release music independently and have established themselves as a force to be reckoned in the music scene with their kilter brand of chilled grooves and laidback nostalgia.


The Tropicanas are no stranger to their sonic tropes to sixties surf rock and elements of the eighties. Blending indie-rock with a burst of jangle-pop, each new release comes with a refreshing sound and polarity that will keep the listener coming back for more time after time. 


The release of their latest EP, ‘Calypso Kool,’ sees The Tropicanas step away from these usual tropes and gives a burst of something different.


The EP was recorded in their home studio during the lockdown, mixed in a combined effort between Cameron Cullen and Andy Bruns, and mastered by Barbe Rousse – the EP makes for a dreamy guitar-driven offering. Containing two previously unheard tracks, ‘Tuned To The Moon’ and ‘Telepathy’, the two join the reverb-heavy ‘Calypso Kool’, heartfelt ‘Sunflowers’ and boldly vulnerable ‘Ugly Weather’.


‘Calypso Kool,’ the titular track of the EP, is still in keeping with their sixties surf sound and consistent with the band’s new embrace of lo-fi recording. The titular single is consistent with the band’s embrace of lo-fi recording and sees The Tropicanas create a juxtaposition between the upbeat sound and blending together a warped consciousness of reality with sombre lyrics that tackle emotional and tap into profound emotions. 


‘Sunflowers’ explore vibrant chord progressions, bassline and vocals for the ultimate indie-pop experience. The song acts as a nostalgic reminder to life pre-lockdown and a live-in-the-moment message. The track tackles the importance of the challenges in life, and with the bad comes the good. 

The guitar riffs and sound are upbeat and aim to leave the listener feeling happiness, but the contrast of the vocals gives a sense of difficulty, reflection and evokes real emotion and thoughts. The Jaggy edge guitar riffs and punchy drums pair hand in hand throughout these tracks to give a top-tapping and enjoyable listen. 


I spoke to The Tropicanas for an insight into their latest EP ‘Calypso Kool.’

What was the inspiration behind this EP?

Lockdown I suppose, we had quite a few ideas and half-finished songs, then with everything shutting down during the pandemic we found ourselves with more time to work on them – The Themes in the E.P’s lyrics were definitely affected by us being locked down!

Who would you say you sound like? Who inspires your sound?

We always find it hard to say who we sound like, we try to just stay true to ourselves but as a band we share a lot of influences which naturally come through – its really cool when someone says we sound like a band we haven’t heard of before and we end up getting right into them! We have always been inspired by guitar music, especially bedroom recorders who shared a similar way of working and have managed to gain success, like Mac DeMarco, Tame Impala and The Babe Rainbow!

What is the meaning behind this EP? 

Each song has a slightly different meaning but the EP on the whole we hope has a positive sound and message, even though the lyrics often tackle serious and emotional subjects we always try to put out good vibes. The Tropicanas are all about sunshine but especially during lockdown it hasn’t always like that so that’s reflected in the E.P. Naturally themes of mental health and looking out for each other have come out of the crazy situation we all just lived through!

What do you want listener’s to take away from this EP?

 – just for them to enjoy it and have a good time listening. That its ok to find things tough, but we’ll get through it together!

You explore a lot of energetic and angular rhythms in this EP, what/who inspired you to experiment with your sound?

 We’ve always been really experimental and like to do different things, but again lockdown made us rethink the way we write and record, and completely changed the way in which we could do it. I think the big change was the sounds we were experimenting with for the drums and percussion led us to more punchy beats and that in turn made the guitars more jaggy! whereas before we would have used a beat up old kit and slapped as much reverb on it as we could – we had to change it up and use our electric drumkit as we couldn’t go anywhere and use a real kit!

In your own words, how would you describe this EP and the tracks on it?

The 'Calypso Kool' EP combines a mix of energies and moods while keeping a laidback dreamy quality to the tracks; from the energetic ‘Calypso Kool’ & ‘Sunflowers’ with their angular rhythms, Into the punchy, short and sweet track ‘Ugly Weather’ - much like the sunshine in Scotland, ending with the lo-fi ‘Tuned to the Moon’ & ‘Telepathy’ - with bedroom pop sounds reminiscent of the likes of Stevie R Moore and Pavement.

You’re very hands on with your music, what was the writing process/creating process like for this EP? Any anecdotes?

For the EP we weren’t able to see each other at all due to lockdown restrictions so it was a real back and forth job via email and wetransfer etc. Due to that there’s not any funny stories to come with it unfortunately –  more just a positive story of adaption and that even through seclusion we managed to still come up with what we think are some really great tracks that we can be proud of! They were mixed by our good friend who stays in London; Cameron Cullen of  Hi & Saberhägen (check em out!) so there was a lot of sending back and forth there too! And then sent on again to another good friend of ours; Edinburgh’s Ally Kelly to master! It’s weird to think it was all done remotely without ever being in a room together, now we just have to learn to play them all together as a band!

You describe yourself as a tropical surf band from outer space, what do you mean by that? What can audiences expect from you both live and whilst listening? 

The way we describe ourselves is always a little bit tongue in cheek – we take a lot of inspiration from surf bands and their rhythms but we also use a lot of effect guitars and synths to create an atmosphere so that’s where ‘outer space’ comes into it (we also are a bit weird and can feel alien at times – don’t we all!).  So we hope people get that when listening to our recordings!

We like to keep things chill and kinda goofy while playing live, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we take the music seriously and work hard!

Do the songs collectively on this EP tell a story? How do they piece together and what was the thought process behind this?

There isn’t a deliberate story from track to track but there’s definitely some concurrent themes being discussed – Love and Loss mainly, with bits of self-help in there! Most of the songs on the E.P are sung by Andrew and his lyrics naturally go well together. ‘Sunflowers’ is the only one not, its sung by Ruaridh and his subject matter is of a similar vein so I think subconsciously there’s a story being told!

The EP comes out 27th August, what are your plans for the coming months? Any tours, live performances? Future plans?

 Yeah! We’re buzzing to release the E.P – we’re playing a show on release day in Glasgow’s Hug n Pint so that will be amazing. We will be releasing some more music this year hopefully too as we love to be creating, and some big gigs too now that we are getting back to some semblance of normality!


‘Calypso Kool’ is versatile, distinctive and an insight into the exciting progression that The Tropicanas have to offer and the unexpected destination of where they will go next. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon or a summer road trip, ‘Calypso Kool’ is a must listen to this summer.

Keep a lookout for the limitless band that is The Tropicanas; they are the ones to watch. 

A J King



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