A friend-of-a-friend is oftentimes some distant, unknown figure used to justify our farfetched stories. For Hollywood Principle, the bandmates themselves are all friends of friends, who thankfully were all actually introduced.
“Mike and I met through a mutual friend back in 2014 and immediately creative sparks were flying. We had very complementary skillsets and styles and started writing songs very quickly,” said Elliott Sencan. “We started looking for a singer and, soon after, that same friend who introduced Mike and I also introduced us to Kayla. We asked her to cut a vocal demo on what later would become “Seeing What’s Next” and we’ve been working on tunes together ever since.”
Sencan, Mike Ault, and Kayla Hope are the three members of the San Diego-based electro-pop group Hollywood Principle. Their unique sound combines electronica with haunting vocal melodies, coming together to create a mood and listening experience that is completely unique.
Before bringing on Hope and crafting Hollywood Principle’s sound, Sencan and Ault almost went in the direction of creating standard EDM tracks. Eventually though, they realized that was too limiting and what they wanted to do organically grew from there.
“Originally, we had set out to write EDM instrumentals and club tracks, but I think by the second or third song idea we collaborated on, that was out the window and we were just trying things, experimenting, being creative,” Sencan said. “Our sound evolved naturally. We didn’t set out to make any particular kind of music, just the best music we can each time.”
As far as their musical influences go, each member cites a diverse blend of artists and genres, a major reason why they’re able to create music that is a style that is so unusual and totally their own.
“I love Anderson. Paak, KAYTRANADA, Kendrick, Mac Miller, Herbie Hancock, Mura Masa, and that new SZA record are big influences of mine this year,” Sencan said.
“Chet Faker, Chrome Sparks, and Feist come to mind for me. Odesza and Baths, love them! Mo Vibez, Point Point, and Flume are amazing producers,” Hope said.
“Some of my favorites are Washed Out, SG Lewis, Tycho, Bon Iver, Jack Garratt, Zero 7,” Ault said.
For their newest EP, Colors, Sencan said the band changed up their songwriting process and the results are a more mature sound.
“We really changed a lot of the songwriting process for this album,” Sencan said. “I think we cut 60-70 demos to get down to these five songs, and we brought in as many talented people we could to work with us on it. Typically, but not always, it works like this: I write a demo, the three of us trade the demo around and knock around ideas, Kayla starts working on vocals, and then Mike really drives the process home. You’re going to hear a difference in the music; our sound has matured.”
Their latest single “Trippin On You” shows off this newer sound, but Ault said that fans have embraced it just as well. The band also gave fans an interesting behind the scenes look at their recording process with the music video.
“We’re really relieved by how positive it’s been,” Ault said. “Happily, our fans have really connected with the song even though it’s a bit different than our older material. The behind the scenes footage we put together for the music video also resonates with fans, which we’re really excited about, too!”
Along with the usual avenues a band takes to get their music out to people, Hollywood Principle also have had a number of tracks featured in the soundtrack for the video game Rocket League. Hope said that they still get attention from people discovering their songs while playing the game.
“It’s been really, really cool!” Hope said. “We had such a positive interaction with Rocket League fans; just check out our YouTube comments. It’s been amazing. Fans hit us up daily still, so it’s been really great for us. We were so fortunate for the wonderful opportunity afforded to us and it’s really pushed our music into new demographics.”
As for what’s next for Hollywood Principle, Ault said that they’re getting ready to debut some new music.
“We already have a second EP on deck,” Ault said. “Kayla is currently working on vocals. In the past, we had long, long gaps in between releases. We’ve been working on mending our process so it is more fluid and consistent. No more year-long gaps between releases. Get ready, because we are hitting it hard with everything we’ve got!”
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Hollywood Principle Talks Their Songwriting Process and New Music: Photographed by Nico Ricoy