The band is playing a final show at Neumos on Saturday, July 1.
There’s a lot to like about being a band in Seattle. Namely, a vibrant (if insular) artistic community and — between clubs, festivals and KEXP — the necessary infrastructure to showcase and support it.
Tangerine knows this better than most. Singer/guitarist Marika Justad, guitarist Toby Kuhn and drummer Miro Justad are lifelong Seattleites who’ve been playing in bands, largely with each other, since their teens.
Now in their mid-20s, after putting in four years of work to build a local following, they’re taking Tangerine to Los Angeles. The band’s farewell show is at Neumos on Saturday.
“We had all talked about wanting to move,” Marika said over Skype from the band’s shared home in northeast Los Angeles. “Not just as a career thing, but just for a change, which I think is always good for creativity — to sort of leave your comfort zone. Because we do love Seattle, but it’s a very comfortable place for us.”
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For a band like Tangerine, it’s easy to see the allure of Los Angeles, where opportunity abounds for young creative people. Superficially at least, its music also fits. The band’s songs are bright and hooky with a retro sensibility that’s hard to place; the songwriting is savvy, and the musicianship is strong but never showy. It’s accessible, but not crassly so, and it’s not a stretch to imagine it taking off in a bigger city.
The sort of ambition a band needs to relocate isn’t entirely frowned upon in Seattle, but it can still be tricky. Consciously or not, some bands carry on grunge’s legacy of outward indifference to success. To Tangerine, though, striving isn’t all bad.
“That can turn people away from L.A., but that can also really attract people,” Miro Justad said. “Everyone’s really trying to take advantage of every moment — sometimes to a fault, like getting their name out there in conversations. But I actually appreciate it because we’re all down here for the same reasons.”
Another draw of Los Angeles is the people. While touring, the band noticed more diverse faces in the crowds there. For Marika and Miro, sisters who identify as mixed-race, this contrasts with Seattle’s more homogeneous music community.
“It’s really kind of divided in Seattle, the rock ’n’ roll scene and the hip-hop scene, in terms of the kind of people who go to those shows,” Miro said. “We’ve actually played shows with the hip-hop scene … and every time those scenes have more Asian people.”
The move culminates more than a decade of friendship. As teenagers in 2005, Marika and Miro played as The Neons at SoundOff!, the underage battle-of-the-bands competition. Kuhn, who was Marika’s ninth-grade classmate, was in the audience. He joined the band soon after.
The trio played together throughout high school, changing its name to The Sutures, then took a break to go to college. Eventually, the need to return to music took over.
“I felt a little weird regret after we stopped,” Miro said. “That’s part of the reason we got together in Tangerine. We’re not going to have regrets this time by not trying.”
Since regrouping in 2013, the band has had a great deal of local success, especially considering it’s yet to release a full-length album. Tangerine has played just about every major Pacific Northwest music festival: Sasquatch!, Capitol Hill Block Party, Bumbershoot and Treefort in Boise, Idaho. Last year, rock station 107.7 chose the band as an opener for its annual Summer Camp concert at Marymoor Park.
A large part of Tangerine’s motivation to move is to record that debut record, whose label, producer and release timeline the band wasn’t at liberty to discuss.
New material might appear, however, at Saturday’s show, Tangerine’s last in Seattle for the foreseeable future. The band calls it a “goodbye for now.”