by Steve Dollar | June 20, 2017
Fresh off the success of their debut album, meet two decidedly un-salty Florida musicians making surf music (never mind that they don’t swim) with an upcoming record and U.S. tour
Is it hard to be taken seriously in the music world when you’re from Florida? The answer is yes, according to Lauren Morgan, who, with Jordan Shih, makes up the Orlando-based pop duo Sales.
“You get categorized as a novelty. A writer called one of our tunes ‘sunburnt’. We are not Salt Life. Jordan can’t even swim,” Morgan says. “Our music has been described as ‘surf rock’, but we are in no way, shape or form ‘tropical’ or ‘beachy’,” she adds.
The performers’ musical skills are evident, though. They met while students at Winter Springs High School and collaborated for years before Sales came into being, during which Morgan (a 2012 Florida State University graduate) studied creative writing and Shih briefly attended the University of Central Florida.
Their songs are characterized by the dreamy lilt in Morgan’s voice and guitarist Shih’s clever use of low-key, lo-fi electronics. Starting in late 2013 with their debut single “Renee,” the duo became popular on YouTube and music websites like Stereogum. They still tour more outside of their home state than within it, hitting the road about twice a year, playing clubs and theaters, and turning down gigs that aren’t headliners. However, they have a strong allegiance to the Sunshine State as their top creative destination. The pair took a break from recording their new album to talk with Flamingo about their sound evolution, Orlando vs. Miami and more.
How has living in Orlando influenced your music?
LM: We agree that Orlando in particular is a great environment for us to focus without distractions. It is home—and we know what is going on and we both have tunnel vision here. We like writing here.
How did you know it was time to tour?
LM: From the beginning, Jordan and I have treated this like a business. We didn’t tour until it was a calculated risk. I’ve heard too many stories of bands eating Taco Bell for three months and coming home with nothing to show for it. Last year, I quit my job as a cashier and I’m making a salary now. With music, which is crazy.
The neo-psychedelic indie pop band Animal Collective was a big inspiration for you, especially through its 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavilion, which hit No. 13 on the Billboard charts. How so?
LM: When it came out, I said, “Jordan! Let’s go outside and play drums on the ground and, like, yodel!”
JS: It was after all that that the sound of Sales happened.
LM: When we stopped trying to emulate other artists. It took a long time for Jordan’s very heavy electronic aesthetic to combine with my punk or rock aesthetic.
You are planning to tour this fall with a string of Florida dates. Where are the best places for your Florida fans to hear you?
LM: We do tour Florida but only the major cities. The scene is so transient—we don’t end up playing that often in Florida.
JS: We like Miami. We love the people there. In terms of the business side of things, it can get kind of weird in Miami.
LM: It’s been a little tense and unsavory in the past, but we love the crowd. We like to play up in Tallahassee at the college, or there was a community space called The Mansion that we liked. It was a mansion with lots of people living in it, and I happened to know a few of them. We played in the living room, and they lit candles and it was magic. I don’t think it exists anymore.
How has your dynamic evolved?
LM: Lately we both feel like producers. Fifty-fifty. I mean, Jordan’s not going to sing anytime soon, probably.
JS: We’ve built up a routine where we meet up every morning and stay until 4 p.m. If either of us has an idea, we start with that. A song either comes out of a jam session or an idea we build from. Now that we’ve put out a catalog, we use new sounds and still have the Sales sound. A lot of the new material we’re working on is hitting on that.
LM: The new sound is more polished and intentional.
For more info visit: sales.bandcamp.com
Florida Artists on Sales’ Play List
- “Full Love Wonder”
by Surface to Air Missive
- “Social Skills”
- “Home Sweet Home”
- “Do What You Want”
by Laney Jones