At the age of 16, Ash Reiter, the singer/guitarist of the dreamy psych-rock band Sugar Candy Mountain, tooled around Sonoma County while listening to impressionable music that would eventually lead her to start one of the genre's most refreshing bands. "We would just drive out to the beach and listen to Beatles records, which is about as good as any introduction to psychedelic music you can get," Reiter reminisces.
She and now-husband Will Halsey, Sugar Candy Mountain's drummer/vocalist, eventually started the band, which can only be described as a psychedelic dream.
"As far as playing [psych rock], it sort of came along as the shift started happening with our original band... The guitar player left, and I just decided... what if I replaced him with guitar pedals to add more character and interesting lyrics to the music?" Reiter explains. "And so I just started getting into guitar pedals and started collecting different effects that made later sounds... become more of that psych sound."
The Bay Area band members elaborately describe their sound as "a space-age blast of psychedelic pop and tropicalia that sounds like it could have reverberated right out of Phil Spector’s echo chamber. If Brian Wilson had dropped acid on the beach in Brazil and decided to record an album with Os Mutantes and the Flaming Lips, it would sound like this — featuring space-age sounds and far-out frequencies from the tripped out tropics." So, naturally, their headlining slot Friday, June 22, at the Perfect Trip: Miami Psych Fest II, dubbed Miami's best summer concert by New Times, is the ideal introduction for the band's first time playing a show in Miami.
Now the group is gearing up for the sixth-annual Hickey Fest, an independent-music gathering in Leggett, California, founded, curated, and organized by Reiter. It comes on the heels of the silky-smooth, ten-track album produced and mixed by Jason Quever, Do Right.
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Reiter explains the recording process behind the new album. "[Do Right] was written and recorded leading up to the election and the inauguration of Trump, so that was something that was in the forefront of our minds," she says. "Also, just traveling to Europe and seeing similar things going on in other countries, it was just another sort of concern about the state of the world. So part of the writing process was looking at that and how it related to nature a lot of the time too."
Reiter and Halsey, then newlyweds, spent their honeymoon on a road trip camping up the West Coast on the way to Canada. "We did a lot of our writing [for Do Right] on the road by lakes, rivers, streams, mountains, and things, so I think that all speaks into it as well," Reiter says.
She describes places she and Halsey visited during their travels that inspired the album. "At one point, we were playing with the idea of calling the album Reflections on the Water, just 'cause, like, pretty much every song was written by water,” Reiter laughs. "And our process was reflecting what was going on... But then we thought that sounded a little too cheesy, which was kind of the point, but I also wasn't sure people were going to get the joke.”
The Perfect Trip: Miami Psych Fest II. With Sugar Candy Mountain and others. 4:20 p.m. Friday, June 22, and Saturday, June 23, at Floyd and the Ground, 34 NE 11th St., Miami. Admission is free at Floyd from 4:20 to 10 p.m. and $20 per day at the Ground via ticketfly.com.