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Demitasse Maintains A Fundamental Optimism, Even In The Darkest Song

Nathan Cone
Texas Public Radio
Joe Reyes and Erik Sanden

Demitasse is a two-piece softly sung acoustic group comprised of Erik Sanden and Joe Reyes, both from the art-rock band Buttercup. Equipped with high falsetto harmonies and acoustic driven melodies, the duo sounds like the happier version of Elliott Smith or the heartbroken version of The Beach Boys.

When asked about the differences between Buttercup and Demitasse, Erik responded: “I think Buttercup has become more and more a rock 'n’ roll machine in the last several years from the influence of the Navaira brothers playing with us for a couple of years."

Throughout the years, Demitasse’s sound has devolved as they have become more minimalistic with their instrumentation.

“We have become more and more minimal, honestly. ... At the core of the band, we have always been minimalist. Demitasse is largely two voices and two guitars,” Erik said.

Demitasse’s sound is similar to the softest moments of Buttercup. Joe agreed, “Softly with restraint is the Demitasse way.”

With a musical partnership that has lasted 15 years, it is fitting that their upcoming second album is titled “Powercouple,”as an acknowledgment of Erik and Joe’s collaboration.

“It turns my stomach when I hear the word ‘Powercouple,’ like at a party or something,” said Erik, while discussing the wordplay of the new album.

“We err on the side of softness but that is our power," he added.

During their performance at Texas Public Radio, they performed “Leave the House,” an agoraphobic anthem, and “Majic,” a tender tune. Both songs are from their upcoming album.

There is a painfully relatable narrative woven throughout the second album, he said.

“We start with the epiphany of realizing that we are actually breathing and alive and that it is a good thing,” Erik said. “Then we move from that towards soul-crushing break-ups into this place of light and happiness. We end with this absurd dream about Tim Duncan and Lou Reed.”

Demitasse performing "Comfy Coffins," from the album "Blue Medicine," in the Texas Public Radio studio.

Writing songs inspired from the darkest and most vulnerable aspects of life is not new to Demitasse. Their first album, “Blue Medicine,”was heavily inspired by the fact that both of their fathers were terminally ill at the time. Those circumstances clearly wash over that entire record. “Blue Medicine” is reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie’s album “Plans”; both groups know how to throw an emotional sucker punch.

Despite the album’s obvious melancholy nature, there is an underlining hope that shines through the beauty of the chord structure and melody.Demitasse offers catharsis with their upbeat melancholy songs, and they hope that audience members leave changed, and smiling.

“On each record, you can hear a little bit of the love we have for each other,” Joe said.  There is an intended fundamental optimism in all of it — even in the darkest song.

The first show promoting their upcoming Tobin album release is on Friday at Confluence Park, from 8 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Demitasse will then release their sophomore album, “Powercouple,” in the Carlos Alvarez theatre at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 29, at 8 p.m. At this event, the group will be performing as a full band for the first time with Odie (from Buttercup) on bass, Chris Maddin on piano, and Dane Rousay on drums.

Check out Demitasse’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and website to stay up-to-date on their new music and upcoming performances.

Danielle is a Trinity University student studying Communication and Studio Art. In focusing on the relationship between visual communication and political discourse, she discovered a passion for bringing people together through a common understanding of current events through different multimedia. Her experience includes book publishing, video production, journalism, podcasting, graphic design, and museum studies.