Photos by Owen Lehman
By Anais Turiello
Hailing from the scattered suburbs of Chicago, Capital Soirée is giving the city’s indie music scene a breath of fresh air. Self-described as “dream-pop,” the band manages to provide listeners with a little taste of everything – ranging from the celestial rhythms that are strung together to project themselves almost as a lullaby, to the type of live sound that makes you hear your own heartbeat pounding in your ears … the kind of feeling for which rock n’ roll is so notorious.
The four-piece troupe consists of James Kourafas, Steven Rejdukowski, Dean Sinclair, and Max Rom. Kourafas, Rejdukowski and Rom alternate between the role of lead vocalist, providing different songs with their own diverse edge.
The group’s long-running camaraderie paired with experience in the musical field is ever-present within their sound – as well as their presentation as a whole. Capitol Soirée’s concise and intricate live shows typically consist of a projector captivating the crowd with video snippets and a whirlwind of spirited dancers encompassing the stage.
While the release of the band’s new EP may be expected in the near future, their debut single titled “Ambien” is set to debut on Aug. 15.
I had the chance to speak with the band before their Aug. 9 show at Beat Kitchen.
Anais Turiello: Do you guys want to introduce yourself and say what you do in the band?
James Kourafas: I’m James. I do singing and guitar.
Max Rom: Hello, I’m Max and I do bass and some singing.
Dean Sinclair: I’m Dean. I do live drums.
Steven Rejdukowski: I’m Steven. I do guitar, keyboards, and some singing as well.
AT: Alright, cool. How did you guys meet or what’s the origin story of the band?
MR: Oh yeah, the classic. So, from the beginning.
SR: Take us back!
MR: Me and James met in the fourth grade, and I said we should start a band. So we did, and it was called Fizz. We did nothing, and we never even practiced or anything.
JK: It was just an idea.
MR: Yeah, it was more of a plan. Then it was seventh grade when we actually –
JK: Well, in fifth grade we had a song. We had “Guitar Nights”.
MR: Okay, yeah! That was good. So, fifth grade was the true start. Then, around sixth/seventh grade we actually got to do some duo acoustic stuff. Then, we got to high school and I had biology with Mr. Steven Rej over here, and we clicked. I went to introduce him to James, but he actually had already known him from preschool.
JK: No, second grade! We went way back so this was all full circle. Before I even met Max.
AT: I can’t even name one person now that I knew in fourth grade.
JK: Me and Steven had a brief and budding friendship.
SR: It was dashed into the wind after he left school.
JK: Yeah, because I transferred schools months after we met. Probably after a semester maybe.
AT: Oh, cool! So –
MR: The story doesn’t stop there! You thought it was done! Okay, so we both played guitar, and that wasn’t going to work. I played bass, so we needed a drummer. Steven said he plays guitar but we told him that doesn’t work, and that he needed to get drums and play them.
JK: So, he had never played the drums in his life.
SR: I learned the drums to be in the band.
JK: We said he can join the band if he gets a drum set. So, he gets a drum set and we were horrible for a very long time.
MR: For years.
AT: What time period was this?
MR: Freshman year. So, in 2012.
JK: He played drums for about four or five years.
MR: Then we got Dean as our new drummer! It’s been happily ever after ever since.
DS: Yep, it’s been a little over a year now.
JK: Yeah, then we got our baby boy, Dean. He’s been a godsend.
MR: He’s really put our live thing together.
SR: We needed a better drummer than me, and I was never that good.
AT: Understandable. What is the direction you plan to head on into from this point?
JK: We’re going rock n’ roll pop music extremes.
AT: Alright, that’s the title right there!
But you guys have played a lot of venues around Chicago. Which one is your favorite?
MR: The sound is so good.
JK: Yeah, the sound is so great every time.
SR: We’ve just had a lot of great shows there.
JK: It’s always great there, and I love seeing shows there, too.
DS: I love just being there in general, whether it’s playing, watching a band, or just hanging out at the bar. It’s definitely my favorite club.
AT: In regards to the name – it’s French, but James told me that you guys didn’t know any French and still don’t. Did you know the meaning when you decided on the name?
MR: I’m on Duolingo for French right now, so I’ll get there. But the story is actually kind of stupid.
JK: Yeah, it doesn’t need to be heard.
MR: It’s just from a cartoon show. It was just something someone said, and I suggested it.
JK: We had a different band name, because this band is pretty old. We had a different name for the majority of the band’s existence. It was just not a good name for many reasons. One of them being the fact that you could never find the band online, so that was a big thing. That’s why we said we needed a new band name, but we couldn’t agree on anything until we hit Capital Soirée. The good thing about it, too, is, if you look it up, you won’t find anything else.
AT: What cartoon did you say it was?
MR: Regular Show.
JK: It was the first one we all didn’t hate. It took months, and we had an EP at the time that we were trying to put out. It had been done for months, but we just couldn’t release it because we didn’t have a band name.
AT: What year or time was this during?
MR: Our senior year of high school, so 2014 to 2015.
JK: If anyone has got a copy of that EP, I think they all have “Soirée” spelled wrong. It’s spelled right on the back and on the cover, but on the physical disc, I think it’s spelled wrong. I’ll take full blame for that one.
MR: And there were spelling errors on our first album.
AT: Are there any Chicago bands that you’re inspired by?
JK: Everyone is really good. One of our all-time favorites is The Walters. Rest in peace.
AT: I love them! I accidentally hung out with them once when I didn’t know who they were. R.I.P.
MR: I was really embarrassed because I saw them at a house show one time. It was them, Post Animal, and The Symposium. So, it was that era.
AT: Joe Keery era, huh?
MR: Exactly. I was waiting in line at the bathroom, and Luke’s (The Walter’s lead singer) brother was in line. I had just started listening to The Walters, and I noticed they had looked alike, so I asked if he was the guy from the band. He said he was his brother, so I was close, but I made a fool of myself.
AT: Are there any other bands you want to mention?
JK: August Hotel, wink wink.
DS: That’s where they found me.
SR: I’m big into the Ex Okays. They’re really good as well. They’re one of the bands that are younger than us, and they’re just awesome.
MR: They got a cool sound.
AT: I’ve seen that you describe yourself as “dream-pop.” What does that mean to each of you or how would you define that in your own words?
JK: That’s a hard question.
AT: Not to put you on the spot!
JK: The whole genre thing is always a tough one.
MR: It’s always been weird for us.
JK: I feel like a lot of bands are the same way with defining genres.
DS: A Texas State Trooper called us “ethereal.”
AT: That’s such a good word for it! I feel like you guys are hard to put a finger on with words.
MR: The live show gets kind of rock, but it’s a toss-up.
DS: I feel like it’s indie-pop at the end of the day, but it does have some more atmospheric sort of background hum. It’s “pretty” music.
MR: It has some dreamy aspects. We use a lot of synths.
AT: For the songwriting process, how do you go about it? Or just what’s the process behind going into the studio and creating a song?
JK: It’s changed a lot and it’s different with every tune. We’re working on a lot of different things, and every song, I feel, can be a little bit different. A lot of the time, someone will bring the main idea or the main demo. We work a lot with making demos, which I guess makes us a little bit different from a rock band. We like to track everything as more of a demo instead of being in a room and jamming until we stumble upon a tune. Who’s to say though! It could always change.
SR: A lot of the time we make songs, there’s no plan as to how we’re going to do it live. We just want to get the song out and get a general vibe for it, and if it’s good enough, then we bring it live.
AT: How is fan reception normally when you play shows?
JK: [Jokingly] Horrible!
MR: No, I’ve definitely noticed a steady incline which is what you hope for, being a band playing for years and years. It has come up for sure, and it’s weird when we’re at shows, and people will be singing the songs. It’ll feel kind of spooky.
AT: While we’re on the topic of live shows, I know you guys have played about 3 shows in Texas earlier this year, right? How was that?
MR: For the past two years we’ve gone down to Texas for “SXSW” shows. They’re not official showcases, but they’re in the spot.
DS: It’s like where the action is, but you wouldn’t need a SXSW pass to see us.
MR: Yeah, we’re for the people. It’s really cool, though. The first year was good and a good learning experience. We did some shows on the way down, too, which was really cool, but this past year I think the response was a little bit better. People knew who we were down there now, so it’s pretty cool when we get hit up sometimes, getting asked to come to Austin. We get Texas a lot. Yanno, like come to Brazil! I’m kidding, but sometimes we’ll get that. So, people came out, and it was really cool. It’s a good vibe down there.
JK: Yeah, we love Austin so much.
AT: You guys have built up a pretty solid following! My last question is about any new music coming out soon?
JK: We have an EP coming out that we are very excited about. We think it’s going to rock your socks off!
MR: Please cut that out.
JK: I think it’s going to be seven songs though. We’re trying to finish them right now.
MR: The 15th [of August] we have a single coming out that is completely separate.
SR: Just to hold people over.
JK: We want to get the EP right and have it be really great, so we’re just trying to get everything finished and ready to rock n’ roll. But in the meantime, we had a song that we made a long time ago, and we love playing it live.
MR: Yeah, we play it live all the time.
JK: So, the 15th we have a song called “Ambien” coming out.
MR: Steven sings lead on it, and he wrote it too.
AT: I’m excited! So, there’s no set date for the EP?
JK: We’re still trying to figure it out but I would say 2019. We’ll have some singles from the EP or a single from the EP coming out in the next month or two.
AT: Okay so, the single on the 15th?
MR: Yeah, and then another one probably within the next month.
JK: We’re unorganized, and we’re just winging it.
AT: If it works, then it works!
JK: Maybe we’ll do some music videos and all that. We’re excited about that. We’ve always wanted to do music videos.
AT: That would be exciting! Do have any future shows you’re planning?
JK: No, we’re just trying to hit the bricks on these songs and get them finished. We’re gonna play a handful of them tonight … so let us know if they’re trash.