Los Angeles’ own Bass Race’s album Tender Vittles is set for release on March 19th. In support of the announcement, the duo has dropped their first single “Crystal Paradise.” The band says of the track: “We wrote this song very early into our relationship. It’s about the all-consuming ecstasy of falling in love and the resulting tendency to shut out the rest of the world.”
Bass Race is the sonic lovechild of Los Angeles-based couple Steven Mertens (Moldy Peaches, Dev Hynes, Here We Go Magic) and Laura Benack. You could aptly describe their musical influences as soft yet rich and yacht yet synth with heavy echoes of jazz, funk, and soul. But stop there and you’d miss out on the more tantalizing alternate reality in which the Carpenters cheat death to evolve through the ‘80s and ‘90s that truly characterizes their sound. Equal parts scenescape and substance, their debut album, Tender Vittles, transcends categorization. Unfussy but far from simple, each song offers an efficient vehicle for traveling through time and memory, vacillating between dreamlike introspection and crystalline clarity. Detail-rich lyrics ground the gauzy atmosphere and add a crisp prescience to the dreamlike styling.
After meeting in New York in 2010, Mertens and Benack started dating and immediately dove into a musical partnership. With the help of friends and Benack’s brother on trumpet, they made music videos including one for their trippy, eerily playful song called “Clowns Everywhere.” Determined to use every ounce of their collective talent, they began combining their music with Mertens’ visual art in 2019. The product is the @raceofbass Instagram page, a completely unique never-ending surreal multi-media collage with animated videos as easter eggs, described by fans as “magical” and “super amazing mega fantabulous.”
Steven Mertens formed his first band, Satan’s Rats, at the age of 13 with elementary school friends, a project that led to two decades of tours and collaborations. After studying Studio Composition at SUNY Purchase, Mertens joined the Moldy Peaches in 2001 and went on to direct videos for a range of iconic artists including Regina Spektor, Lil Peep, Benee, and Sheryl Crow. Benack started playing piano at the age of four, but her natural ability to cultivate a distinct ethos predates her. Her style is in part defined by a musically rich family tree that includes Benack’s bandleader grandfather, vocalist mother, and jazz playing brother and father.
Born out of pure love for each other and their craft, Bass Race vibrates with an effortless joy that’s hard to find and impossible to manufacture. Or, as Rob Belushi once told them, “When I think of cool, I think of you.”