For this edition of our Ya Herd? Series, we heard from two musically talented brothers hailing from California, Aidan Finn & Connor Finn.
One of our readers sent us a message saying we should check them out, and sure enough it was right up our alley, so we set up an interview to learn more. We don’t get a ton of submissions, but when we do, they’re pretty on point!
Aidan Finn records under the moniker The Red Expos. His latest record, titled Project 1 on Bandcamp, has a breezy pop sound — the guitar-work is reminiscent of early Alex G and Real Estate, and his velvety vocals call to mind other west coast rockers like Stephen Steinbrink and Spencer Sult aka Generifus.
Connor Finn’s project Reptiles from the Moon takes a more experimental approach, drawing from a wide range of styles from jazz to psychedelic rock to funk. He constantly switches up the tempo, throwing in interesting sounds to create an unpredictable, but very enjoyable, listening journey. The closest comparison I can think of is Salami Rose Joe Louis.
Firstly, let’s do introductions — can you briefly tell us a bit about yourselves?
Connor: I’m 18 years old and grew up in LA. Just finished my freshman year of college at UCB. Drums are my main instrument but I play some keys, guitar, and bass as well.
Aidan: I’m 20, from Los Angeles and go to school with Connor in Berkeley. I make music under the name Red Expos.
I see you both released projects in April this year.. Is this a coincidence or was there some brotherly coordination involved?
Aidan: It was a coincidence. I spent months sitting on my recordings and tweaking them, while Connor knocked out all his songs in two weeks. He would be recording all day long, occasionally making appearances in the kitchen for more coffee.
How long have each of you been making music? I noticed both of your Bandcamp pages don’t have anything before this April — have you removed past projects/demos or perhaps they’re under a different page?
Connor: I’ve been playing music for most of my life and recording for the last five years or so. I mainly just put this set of songs out onto bandcamp to feel like I could move forward with the music I’ve been writing, and also have a chance to get some feedback. I don’t have any releases from before this one, but I plan to put out a bunch more songs onto bandcamp.
Aidan: I’ve been making home recordings since high school. I had a project up a few years ago under my name, but I eventually took it down because I wasn’t feeling those songs anymore.
I’m impressed at how you both incorporate a lot of different sounds, instruments, loops, samples etc.. Can you each talk a bit about what goes into your recording process?
Connor: I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to pick the right sounds to complete a song once the ground roots for the track have already been recorded. I write songs to feel kinda open-ended so that I can decide how to tie it all together once there is an outline. This kind of creative freedom (where you don’t totally know how the song is going to sound when you begin) doesn’t feel possible in a studio session, which is why I love to record at home.
Aidan: In general, I stick to drums, bass, and guitar, and record them in that order.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your music?
Connor: I don’t really know how to answer this because my songs are typically pretty random. I usually just find some cool chords and think of words that phonetically sound good over them. To write lyrics I just keep revising until they feel deep, but sometimes there really is no meaning.
Not sure why, but whenever I’m writing words Frank Ocean just shows up in my head. Our lyrical style isn’t even really that similar but I love his stuff and maybe compartmentalize some sorta influence from him.
Aidan: That’s a tough question. Sometimes if I’m lacking inspiration for lyrics I try to recycle something from a movie plot.
Do you come from a musical family? What did you listen to growing up?
Connor: Our dad actually teaches music at the high school that we went to, so I would say that we do come from a pretty musical background. Dr. Dog, Stevie Wonder, and Green Day were some of my favorites as a kid.
Aidan: Everyone in the family is musical, including our younger brother who’s 12 years old. My dad has played in bands and written songs all his life. He introduced me to music, and not in a “you have to take piano lessons” kind of way.
Who are some of your biggest influences musically?
Connor: Elliott Smith, Palm, Alex G, Radiohead, Earl Sweatshirt, Tame Impala, HOMESHAKE, Thelonius Monk
Aidan: Alex G is one of my all time favorites. After being exposed to his music, I wanted to try recording my own.
While I understand the desire to explore your own artistic avenues, have you two recorded together in the past or thought about doing so in the future?
Aidan: Right now we’re playing in a band together with two of our long time friends, which means a lot of collaboration. Still trying to come up with a band name. In the past, Connor and I have recorded stuff just the two of us, with me on guitar and him on drums.
On that note, who’s your favorite sibling band?
Connor: The Lemon Twigs
Aidan: The Garden
Can you each talk about your town/city and how you like the music scene there? Any good venues you (used to, pre-COVID) frequent?
Connor: In the bay area, during our school year, we would play shows at Spatz, 924 Gilman, and this house on Ellsworth. In LA, I used to go to a lotta shows at the Lyric on Hyperion when I was a kid, but have mainly just played house parties.
Aidan: Never really played shows in LA. In Berkeley, the band Connor and I play in has performed at houses and co-ops. We have a lot of shows in the garage at my house, with other Berkeley and SF bands. Don’t tell our landlord…
How have you guys been coping during this pandemic?
Connor: Just practicing a lot of music.
Aidan: Going for walks around my neighborhood.
Can you share a few records you’ve been listening to a lot lately?
Connor: Man Alive! by King Krule, The Slow Rush by Tame Impala, Selected Ambient Works 85-92 by Aphex Twin
Aidan: Is This It by the Strokes, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere by Neil Young.
What’s next for the Finn brothers? Any new projects underway or releases on the horizon?
Aidan: We’re recording a first album with the band we’re in, which should be out by the end of the summer. It’s a great recording set-up we’ve got going in our friend’s back house. I’m also working on another Red Expos release, and I bet Connor will put out more stuff too.
Connor: You’ll see…