Electro-indie act Bay Ledges was formed by Zach Hurd in 2015 in his Los Angeles bedroom after moving from coastal Maine. The move brought him some rather inspiring and fruitful years as a creator and songwriter and as of late 2020 he has relocated back to Maine. Relocating and recording all over Maine, Hurd found that the one constant in his life while navigating new waters with his fiancée was his foundation of music, hence the title of his much-anticipated debut album Ritual, released in May.
It’s been a long time coming, with Bay Ledges releasing EPs in the past including New Daze in 2020, In Waves in 2018, Fountain Tropical in 2017 and a self-titled collection in 2017. June and July are rather exciting months for Bay Ledges, with a U.S. tour that stops at the renowned West Hollywood venue The Troubadour. It will be a sort of homecoming for Hurd and a chance for the writer, producer and mixer to perform his debut project of whimsical and exuberant electro-pop jams.
“I’m so excited”, said Hurd. “I feel like it’s such an institution and I mean, growing up hearing about it and reading that Steve Martin book Born Standing Up, there are all these legendary stories of this place. It’s obviously special to get back to LA after not living there for a couple years now”.
Hurd will be joined on tour with drummer Kyle Kelly-Yahner, who was also part of the tour in February and though Bay Ledges has taken on different iterations with a bass player and other setups, for now the duo will deliver just the right intimate energy to capture the magic of the new material. “Float” and “In Water” give off sun-kissed, warm vibes of summer, while there is a playfulness to tracks like “Changing” and “keep going”, both offering some flavor from late 90s high-brow electronic by artists like Moby and Fatboy Slim. In moments, Hurd’s vocals sound like an electronic version of Mat Kearney and others even some Jack Johnson. There’s a faint psychedelic element to his vocals that feel natural (not forced) and there’s unpredictable, glitchy production on songs like “Those Old Days” as well as soulful moments on tunes like “Up”.
Living on both coasts, Bay Ledges’ sound really began to take shape over the past several years. “I definitely think being bicoastal is a huge part of my sound, and growing up by the coast too”, said Hurd. “All that stuff finds its way somehow. Bay Ledges was really born in LA and I totally have a real love for LA. When I was there, I felt like I was seeing a lot of these movies I saw as a kid and it sort of gave me all this nostalgia from my youth. I think in a lot of ways it helped spark the project. I think moving there was something really freeing about really finding myself and redefining myself to music”.
One song that stands out is “Like A Bird”, which sounds like a female vocalist featured, or is it? The twangy guitar drives the electro-pop bop but it’s really not what you think and it shows Bay Ledges’ artistry and what’s possible in the digital era. “It was one of those things where I recorded the whole song and I don’t know, I liked it but there was something sort of missing”, recalled Hurt. “And I just decided, I pitched the whole thing up like five steps. I love how this sounds. It was just one of those things where, it was obviously different than the typical singing voice that I’m using. Doing stuff like that is sort of the spirit of this project. I don’t want to worry about ‘how will I do this live?’ or ‘what box will this fit in?’ So yeah, it was kind of nice, I like how this sounds and I’m going to run with this”.
The Ritual album obviously has a lot of personal stories, emotions and overall it just sounds like it was fun to create. With the uncertainty of the pandemic and Hurd moving around before finding a new home base in Maine, it was the Ritual music that was his respite during all the noise. “We moved from LA to Maine at the very end of 2020 and then we were just bouncing around Maine trying to figure out a place to land”, shared Hurd. “Working on the music in this ritualistic way, [it] was this safe space to come back to amidst a time when you’re really in transition. Professionally I don’t know what my future looks like in music. I knew I was never going to stop making music. It was this constant I could always come back to”.
It’s refreshing that Bay Ledges arrived from a genuine passion for music, for the simple joys of creating and experimenting, for both zeroing in on a moment or a feeling while also stepping into another world. With the release of Ritual, it seems Hurd has come full circle on why he even makes music in the first place. “When I started Bay Ledges, it was definitely to connect with having fun while making music”, said Hurd. I think music can be —especially when you’re doing music as a living, it’s easy to kind of lose that at times. I think starting this project was a sort of way to create this space similar to what I was saying about “Like A Bird”, I’m just going to be very free and I want to enjoy this process. When I was a kid, I used to draw a lot and I wanted to be a cartoonist, so I would draw for hours and be lost in that. I was sort of remembering back to that and remembering that spirit and bringing it back to this. There’s a joyfulness that I try to tap into, the sunny, beachy thing is a plus”.
Bay Ledges debuts at the Troubadour on Friday, June 17 with support from Nashville indie-pop duo DOUBLECAMP (through 7/2). All Ages, 8:00 pm, $25.26
Bay Ledges Tour Dates
6.15.2022 Tucson, AZ at 191 Toole
6.16.2022 Phoenix, AZ at Rebel Lounge
6.17.2022 Los Angeles, CA at Troubadour
6.18.2022 San Diego, CA at Soda Bar
6.21.2022 Santa Cruz, CA at The Atrium
6.22.2022 San Francisco, CA at Rickshaw Stop
6.24.2022 Portland, OR at Polaris Hall
6.25.2022 Seattle, WA at Madame Lou’s
6.26.2022 Spokane, WA at Lucky You Lounge
6.29.2022 St. Paul, MN at Turf Club
6.30.2022 Madison, WI at High Noon Saloon
7.1.2022 Chicago, IL at Schubas
7.2.2022 Detroit, MI at The Sanctuary
7.7.2022 Portland, ME at Portland House of Music
7.8.2022 Burlington, VT at Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
7.9.2022 Easthampton, MA at Marigold Theater
7.10.2022 Hamden, CT at Space Ballroom