Blushing Doesn’t Need Perfection

We caught up with the double husband-and-wife-duo band ahead of their upcoming LP, Sugarcoat and the premiere of their newest single, "Slyce."

Music Features Blushing
Blushing Doesn’t Need Perfection

For Blushing, perfection was never the focus of their newest album. With recording sessions fitted in between work and the bustling nature of life, Sugarcoat was largely guided by the magnetic passion of the forces behind the band. Members Christina and Noe Carmona and Michelle and Jacob Soto drew inspiration from a rich, abundant environment of creativity amongst the group and the vibrant backdrop of Austin. While speaking with Christina and Michelle over Zoom, the foundations of the album were thoughtfully laid before me between laughter and reflections. “We weren’t trying to make a super high-polished album. I think it caught a moment in time where we were a little bit more busy, and maybe a little bit more crunched for time or weren’t hung up on making the perfect thing,” Soto says. “We just wanted to enjoy writing and recording music. Some of the songs, there’s still some scratch vocals and scratch instrument takes in there that we just didn’t take out and I think that’s a result of being inspired by the fleeting nature of creativity and artistry.”

Blushing formed in 2016, beginning with just Christina and Michelle casually experimenting with writing and playing music together. For Christina, music has been a lifelong partner—her parents are classically trained musicians who performed throughout her childhood. She recalls sitting at the shows with her brother, trying to make each other laugh with dumb gags and pinching. “I’ve definitely been surrounded by music my entire life. The sound of it has just kind of changed,” Carmona says. Michelle’s path to music began later in life, when she decided to pick up music as a hobby. “I honestly didn’t pick up an instrument until I think I was really 30. I was very late to the music game, but once I grabbed a guitar, that’s when I really started making music in earnest so it’s something I started later in life, but I’m trying to make up for all that last time,” she explains.

“I really just wanted a hobby and I kind of played around like at first I was like, ‘Oh, let me just get a ukulele and just like, have fun with it,’ and then I was like, ‘Okay, I’m actually really enjoying this,’” Soto continues. “‘Let me get a guitar,’ so my husband Jake, our drummer, got me a guitar one Christmas and then that’s when it just kept kind of snowballing from there as far as the things that were available. Then he got me my first guitar pedal and electric guitar and the inspiration kept building with each new instrument that I would get.”

Carmona and Soto met through their husbands, who were friends when the couples lived in El Paso and remained close after moving to Austin. Soto explains, “So long story short, I knew Christina had a great voice. I knew she was classically trained. And I was like, ‘I want to get to know her better and I really want to see if we can make some music together.’ So I just asked Christina out on a friend date and it’s still just as awkward to ask someone out on a friend date as a romantic date. [It] might be more awkward, actually!”

The duo became attuned at writing and playing together after working through a few “clunky jam sessions.” Carmona and Soto were determined to refine their skills as they taught themselves bass and guitar. The two began to notice the “magic start happening” when they played together and they weren’t the only ones to see it. Their husbands Jacob and Noe recognized the gravity of the work and the duo’s growing ability, and it just so happened that Jacob and Noe were also experienced musicians. “Just by sheer luck, or kismet, or whatever fate, if you will, my husband happened to be a drummer,” Soto says. “He was a drummer in high school in hardcore bands, and [Christina’s] husband had happened to be a lead guitar player and that’s exactly the two instruments we needed so it’s one of those things where the puzzle pieces really fell into place.”

The nature of their interconnected relationships allowed for a creative process that flows with ease, with each aspect dependent on the creative contributions of the individual members. Songwriting normally begins with Christina and Noe composing instrumental parts and uploading them to Google Drive for Michelle and Jake to listen to. From there, Michelle often composes overarching melodies while Jake toils with drum parts. “I think we all play such an important role because we’re all writing our own parts and then presenting them to the group and luckily everyone is very talented in what they do so I’m really happy with our songwriting process,” says Carmona. “It truly takes all four of us to come up with the final product.” She furthers, “No seriously, nobody can write an amazing melody faster than Michelle. She’s too fast. She’s so fast. I mean, it really just blows me away honestly!”

For their upcoming third album Sugarcoat, the band wasn’t in a hurry to get things done this time. With the commitments of work and life absorbing their time, the band decided to let the creative process flow naturally over a long period of time. They spent about a year writing songs for Sugarcoat before spacing out their studio work throughout 2022 and 2023. “We just kind of do studio work whenever we can, whether that’s once a week or once every other week. It just gets kind of spaced out. That was really who it kind of took a longer time. The benefit from that is that we can really think about the songs and we can digest them, the things that we like or things that we don’t like,” Carmona says. “They’re finally coming out into the world and we’re so excited because it’s been so long we’ve been sitting on them.”

The result is an album sculpted from warm, harmonious feelings. The simmering summers of Austin seep through the layers of instrumentation, breezing by like an alluring daydream. Tracks like “Tamagotchi” are inspired by campy ‘90s comedies—like She’s All That and Clueless—refining a layered and infectious bubble-gum popping angst over soaring choruses. Former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist Jeff Schroeder makes an appearance on the album playing lead guitar on the shimmering single “Seafoam.”

“I think that if you put on a record in the car driving around Austin on a day like today, which is beautiful and sunny, perfect outside weather, I think that it kind of encapsulates the sound that we have for our record,” Carmona says. “Like, it really is just the environment. There’s such a rich culture here of just music, it’s like there’s music in the air. It makes sense. It’s kind of like if you were to go to Seattle and listen to grunge or put on Nirvana like it makes sense for the space. I feel like that about our music. If you listen to it and you’re in Austin, it makes sense while you’re here.” Blushing’s distinct blend of dream pop and shoegaze distills all the whimsy and sunshine of an Austin afternoon into a song. Sugarcoat emanates tangible happiness brought out by the band members’ unbridled approach to songwriting. It’s raw and boundless, created with burning zeal and passion. Carmona sums it up simply, stating that “sometimes, it’s just magic.”

Watch the music video for “Slyce” below.

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