“To Know Your Tone”

A photo story by Hoop

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introduction by sammy maine

photo story by caitlin roberts

Seattle four-piece Hoop make cosy, soft-gem pop that picks out the peripherals of the every day. Although their retrospections speak of personal struggles – with debut LP Super Genuine centering around abusive relationships from a femme perspective – they garner a certain composure that could soothe the uneasiest of chests. It’s an exhale of truth, that produces a consolatory vulnerability in the face of destruction.

Although their output is wholly introspective, Hoop flourish in their collaborations. The band also consists of members from a bunch of other Seattle projects including Sick Sad World, Gar Pal and Ings, that provides a vital alliance, giving rise to Hoop’s overall intention. Latest track “To Know Your Tone” saw vocalist Allyson Foster sing the entire song when lead vocalist Caitlin Roberts found that she had lost her voice entirely. What results is a bold and affecting narrative, performed with an attentive poise. Mellow, repetitive strums and conscientious yet laid-back percussion provide a hushed backdrop to a poignant offering; it’s a song that knows just where to place everything, with each part complimenting the other.

The album Super Genuine is released by lead vocalist Caitlin Roberts’ own label Decency Den Records and you can listen to “To Know Your Tone” below. Further down, you can see a photo story of the recording process – and Hoop’s formation – from Caitlin Roberts.

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This is Kiwanis Waterfront Park, a few blocks from the house I lived in Anacortes. I would come here to work on lyrics, sometimes during the day, sometimes after the sun went down. Being by the water helped to clear my head to let my feelings speak. I also liked the raptor sculpture. On a lucky day you could see porpoises crest when the water was still.

Sometimes after a recording session or on an off-day, Nicholas and I would go to the beach to throw a baseball or a football around. You had to be careful not to let the ball roll into a tide pool and get swept out to sea. Pretty good way to practice catch and throw precision, by necessity — stakes were high.

Here’s Allyson in the studio. We had her come in to contribute vocals on six songs. She sings very prominently on a couple of them, one of them being “To Know Your Tone” — I was having a rough day, my voice really gave out, and I couldn’t hold a note. We asked her to come in and sing the entire song for me. It was the last song we did for the record. It’s the easiest song for me to listen to on the record because I don’t have to listen to my own voice. And Allyson’s beautiful voice is perfect for it. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

I spent a lot of time with Cathy, Nicholas’ dog, that summer. Cathy was in the studio a lot while we were making the record. She was adorable. Here she is at the beach, touching some kelp.

When I moved back to Seattle, Pamela Santiago, Leena Joshi, and Inge Chiles picked up the songs from ‘Super Genuine’ and formed Hoop with me. We also wrote some new collaborative songs. This is an outtake from a band photoshoot by Conner Lyons. We’re hanging out of my Toyota Camry station wagon.

Here’s another one from the same shoot. The time I’ve spent with these humans has been incredibly fun, free, and full of growth.

I went through a phase in the fall of 2014 where I was into looking at outrageously expensive fashion online and convinced Pamela (left) and Briana Marela (right) to come to this upscale clothing store in downtown Seattle called Mario’s with me just to look around. I think this was the first time that me and Pamela hung out, right after I moved back to Seattle. I bet in this moment, neither of us had any idea that we would wind up being in a band together.

Briana sings on four songs on ‘Super Genuine,’ on two of which she has solo bits. She has a sharp producer’s ear and a great voice, we were really lucky to have her help with tracking.

We also went to Nordstrom’s and took home little sample vials of fragrance, which lasted for a very long time.

I wanted to limit this photo essay to 35mm film photos, but I think this is a very important picture of my guitars for all you gearheads out there. That’s a ’98 Mexican Fender Stratocaster on the left, a custom bass with a maple fretboard in the middle, and a BC Rich Warlock Bronze Edition on the right. Droolworthy, right?

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“Super Genuine” is released on May 16, via Decency Den Records

Pre-order it here

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Hoop play a “Super Genuine” release show on May 18 at Timbre Room in Seattle

Find more details here

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