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RIP EXCLUSIVE: Cultivate Talks Debut Album And Newest Single "Houston"

Sabrina YanezAug 28, 2023

Orange County-based rock band Cultivate have released their punchy new single "Houston," a catchy, modern pop-punk song that will leave you wanting "more, more, more!"

This follows the release of the band's debut album Where Is Here? back in March, which encapsulates all the 2000's pop-punk nostalgia you could ask for. Taking heavy inspiration from Blink-182, Jimmy Eat World, and Fall Out Boy, as well as other indie and hardcore artists, Cultivate blends a plethora of different genres into their sound, allowing them to add their own unique twist into the world of pop-punk. They want to remind their fans to cut loose and have fun while enjoying their music – the way it should be listened to.

Back in June, I was able to sit down with band members Connor DiLiberto (vocals), Tyler (drums), and Edgar Arteche (bass/guitar) to discuss the making of the record, and what's next for the band in 2023 and beyond.

Tell me a little bit about the band's history, how did you meet and how did you start? How would you describe yourselves as a band?

Tyler: Cultivate started with me and Kyle, who is not on the call unfortunately. We started in 2018 and we had different members, but we started out as a midwest-emo kind of band; we were very different and still kind of figuring out our sound at that point. Then I would say around 2019, we had some members leave and we ended up with Edgar and Jeff. Then around 2021 is when we met Connor.

Connor: It was almost exactly a year ago actually, because I started working at the rehearsal studio where the guys were practicing with their previous singer. I think actually this week would be a year anniversary there. So it was about a year ago when I met the guys and we kind of clicked. They said they were looking for a singer and that they were parting ways, their old singer wanted to move in a different direction and do his own thing. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and tried out for them, and it's been about a year of sweet, sweet music and rock and roll.

Tyler: Cultivate really started to take shape once Connor took in. We really started to find our sound, and we found out who we wanted to be. We kind of transformed away from midwest-emo, more into a pop-punk vibe. Connor brought a lot, same with Edgar and Jeff. They brought a lot of different styles because they weren't playing pop-punk at the time – they were playing more progressive, hardcore, harder stuff, so they brought those genres in with us. Connor had that rock feel with his voice, so Cultivate really started to take shape once we had Jeff, Edgar and Connor along. That's how we developed into that pop-punk sound.

Let's dive into your music. In March, you guys released your debut album Where Is Here? Tell me a little bit about the story behind the album, and what's something you want your fans to takeaway from it overall when listening?

Connor: Before I had even joined, I had a little bit of a catalog of original music and I think that there'd always been an idea to release a longer piece of work than just a single. Once I joined, like Tyler said, we sort of hit this stride of writing a lot of new music, and reviving, and kind of trying to put a different spin on the songs they had written before. And after a while it was pretty clear that we had material to to get into the studio and to record a full length album. We had some really fun times. Some of the songs like "Dan Backslide," which is one of the tracks later on the album, was an example of a very collaborative writing effort where every person in the band was sitting down and writing a piece of it at a time. Eventually it turned into this song, and that's sort of how the whole album came together. It's extremely collaborative. There's at least one song that everyone had written a big chunk of on their own, and then brought to the rest of the guys and had things added which was a ton of fun. I think it really comes through when you listen to the album that not every song is the same. All the songs, while they kind of have the same spirit, they have a lot of different influences in there. So that's how the album came to be and once we decided to do it, it was pretty fast and furious. Every other week were in a different studio – were were recording drums and Tyler was kicking those out, I was recording vocals, Edgar did a massive amount of leg work on the production and engineering. Overall the album is so huge, shoutout to Edgar for that. We would record the pieces and give Edgar the chunks; the pieces of the recipe and he turned around and made it the beautiful cake that is the album itself. But everyone was very involved in that whole process. And when it came out, it was like we had this new life that we had brought into the world and releasing it felt like, now it's no longer ours. It belongs to whoever comes across it, and hears it, and listens to it, which is a beautiful thing.

Tyler: If it wasn't for Edgar we all would've all been in crippling debt. So thank you Edgar for mixing and mastering the album. I think what we want our fans to takeaway from the album is that we're fun, we wanna party, and we wanna have a good time with everybody. We want to connect, our whole thing with Cultivate is just cultivating connections, and we really just want to connect with the people that come to the shows. And we're always very thankful for every single fan that makes an opportunity to come see us, we're forever thankful. But yeah, we just want our fans to know that we love them and we're here to have a great time.

You guys read my mind because my next question is asking you to expand more on the production process.

Edgar: Well for me it was a first-time thing, I've never actually worked on mixing an album for any of my bands. I do it just for fun, for my own thing, I make my own music on the side as well. So I've been practicing for years but I never really got serious about it until it was time with the band. So I did spend a long, long time on every song just trying to make everything as best as I could – trying to perfect every little detail in there. I got tons of feedback from the band on different things, the vocals and the guitars, the tones themselves, the volume on every single instrument and all that. So at the end I think we came up with something we all kind of liked. The final product is something that we're all very proud of and for me, it was a huge learning experience moving forward because after listening you're always self-conscious of your own work. You wanna keep improving on what you did. So for me it was a very big learning experience and for the future, if the guys want to move forward with doing the same thing, I'm sure with the experience I got it should be way smoother and the final product should be way better as well. So in terms of that, the main thing is that was a huge learning experience for everyone and we're all happy with the final product.

Going off of that, a bit of a generic question but definitely an important one I feel – what are some of your biggest musical inspirations, especially when it comes to your own music?

Connor: Like I said earlier, we all have very different backgrounds of music that we grew up on and what we listen to currently. There's a lot of overlap too, I think for a lot of the guys there are some staples that we draw a lot of our sound from. A lot of pop-punk choices – Jimmy Eat World influences a lot of the stuff I know. I take a lot of songwriting influence and inspiration from Fall Out Boy and All American Rejects. Personally I think we all grew up on a lot of those classic pop-punk anthems. "Dear Maria Count Me In" and "Ocean Avenue." And I think that's where that kind of nostalgic pop-punk sound that we have at the core of our music comes from. That's where a lot of my melodic stuff comes from too. I'm really into pop music and indie stuff so that's where a lot of my ideas come from. But Edgar and Tyler and the other guys in the band, you guys can speak about some of your influences specifically on the heavier side or even the punk side. I think Tyler and I agree you guys both bring a lot of that kind of energy into the band. That makes it different than just a pop-punk classic cover band, it gives Cultivate it's original sound.

Tyler: Well we've had a lot of influences – Blink-182 was a pretty big influence for us. It's hard to say, we're always constantly listening to music. I'd say Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, All American Rejects, a lot of the bands Connor said are definitely our sound. I guess we're also influenced by things that happen in our lives, the situations we have. One of our songs "Thanks" was written by me and it was over a breakup that I had with someone I was with for seven years, and that's a line in the song but it was written out of experience. So I guess a lot of our songs, even Connor's lyrics, they speak from experience. A lot of what we're trying to say is conveying a message of, "we relate to you and we know how these things happen." Breakups happen, going on a date happens, stuff like that.

Edgar: Yeah for me, I'd say the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater soundtrack for every single game – that got me into all these different kinds of music, even learning about heavier things like metal and all that. So it opened my perspective to every type of music out there.

Tyler: Edgar likes some filthy-ass metal, man.

Tell me!

Edgar: Well, I'd say the heaviest band I like is called Humanity's Last Breath. They're basically just like one huge breakdown, but I love that kind of stuff. With what we do in the band, as I mentioned, Tony Hawk Pro Skater is full of pop-punk and punk-rock and all that. So I like really fast-paced music, happy stuff, it gets me going in some way. It's fun to listen to and people relate to it.

So what's next for you guys for the rest of the year? Any upcoming shows, a tour, new music?

Tyler: We have a new single releasing! We're dropping a track our drummer wrote called "Houston," it's about being addicted to something that's bad for you. And our next shows are going to be in the LA area in September – check out our instagram for dates and details @cultivateband. For the rest of the year, we have some new music ready to be recorded and we're hoping to drop an EP before the year ends.

Stream "Houston" on Spotify here, and Where Is Here? here.

Keep up with Cultivate at