.Gardens & Villa’s Dance-Pop Gets Deep

The latest music video from L.A. indie dance-pop group Gardens & Villa is a delightfully fun montage of a man with bad vampire teeth meeting a woman and falling in love. The song, “Underneath the Moon”—the first new song by the group in three years—is a surprisingly breezy synth-pop jam. Lyrically, it’s bittersweet in celebrating new love, but from the perspective of a person who deeply believed they would never find love again.

The making of the video matched the carefree tone of the music. It was a spontaneous, almost silly affair arranged by guitarist/singer/flute player Chris Lynch and his girlfriend.

“I had these vampire teeth and we had these elk ears. We just kind of improvised it,” Lynch says. “We filmed it all with just the two of us, and we were just having fun. It was one of the best nights of our summer.”

The song is also a sneak peak of the group’s upcoming album. Lynch is extremely excited about it, and says that “Underneath the Moon” isn’t a good indicator of what the rest of the album will sound like. Like the band’s previous records, it’ll be all over the place, blending indie, synth-pop and post-punk.

“It’s the most I’ve ever put into a record before,” Lynch says. “It has a lot of passion. A lot of love. A lot of beers.”

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The last album the group released was Music For Dogs back in 2015. They broke up shortly after due to internal conflict and the generally poor response the album got from fans. The members have since reconciled, and have been working on this record for the past year and a half.

“This album is the most true I’ve felt musically probably since our first album. It just feels honest and real. I think we had to die a little bit,” Lynch says. “When you’re in a band with people, you tour for months and then you literally can’t stand them. Then when you’re away—I miss making love in our music together.”  

In addition to dealing with the breakup of the band, the past couple of years haven’t been easy for Lynch. In 2017, he dealt with the death of his best friend. Then last year, his musical mentor and Gardens & Villa producer Richard Swift passed away. Swift was supposed to help mix the new album in 2017, but he fell ill around that time.

“Basically, we wouldn’t even be a band without him,” Lynch says. “He gave us our sound, our aesthetic. He was so instrumental to everything. It was a huge loss for us.”

One appeal of Gardens & Villa has always been their deep, philosophical, conflicted records that tug back and forth on heady topics. This record has a story to it—one that Lynch doesn’t want to explicitly state—but it came out of the ups and downs of his life over the past few years. In addition to loss, there’s been new love, which inspired “Underneath the Moon.”

“The whole theme of the record, I would say, is death and life,” Lynch says. “There’s a good quote that I really was moved by: ‘Love is like death, it changes everything.’ It’s a heavy quote.”

Putting the vampire teeth in the video wasn’t just meant for a laugh; it represents the despair he had fallen into during the dark period of his life. His soon-to-be-girlfriend shook him out of that.

“I wasn’t going outside. I was crying all the time. Sleeping all day. She helped me emerge from my cave—helped me survive through the darkness,” Lynch says. “We fell in love. That’s the rough gist of the story. Reemerging. But also feeling these waves of meaninglessness, like we’re all going to die. I’m still wrestling with that. But also trying to embrace life and enjoy and love.”  

Gardens & Villa perform at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $15. 429-6994.


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