"Pop is music that gives you something to hold on to," says Chris Chu of POP ETC. It can be a melody, a lyric, a rhythm, or all of the above but pop music always elevates and celebrates the hook - the catchy bit that sticks in your head, or sends you reaching to turn up the volume. At its best, pop also mixes familiar elements with the fresh and unexpected. POP ETC has evolved by combining its roots in rock with a diverse variety of popular recordings.
POP ETC’s music still sounds raw because the band didn't wholly embrace all the tenets of modern pop. "When I listened to pop music as a kid, I didn't think about why I loved it," Chris admits. "I just did. There was this gut reaction. I always looked for that, and I still do." POP ETC is still the work of a tight-knit unit, not the product of an assembly line. POP ETC sprang forth from the minds of the three band members, and virtually no one else. "That's what makes our approach different in this modern era of pop,” explains Chris.
Maybe POP ETC sounds familiar because the members of the Brooklyn-via-Berkeley trio—Chris, his brother Jon Chu, and Julian Harmon—previously established a measure of renown under the name The Morning Benders. Most likely though, POP ETC sounds familiar from its self-titled debut album released in 2012 with production from Danger Mouse and Andrew Dawson that saw the band combining their unique sound with a classic pop sensibility.
The debut album infused itself with traces of the myriad strains of pop music that informed the genesis of POP ETC. The album won the hearts of NME and SPIN and the band’s “Speak Up” found a home within the Twilight Trilogy. MTV praises POP ETC for the band’s “penchant for sturdy melodies and stacked textures.” Pretty Much Amazing added, the trio “has sewn together the fragments of contemporary music into a brightly colored quilt.”
After inking a Sony Music Japan Record Deal, the first half of 2014 saw POP ETC basing their lives out of Japan to wear a producer and writer hat for popular Japanese artists. POP ETC co-wrote original songs with composer Yoko Kanno for "Zankyou no Teroru (残響のテロル)" (famous for her work in Cowboy Bebop and Miyazaki animated films), co-wrote and produced alternative J-rock band Galieo Galilei's new album and forthcoming EP on Sony and co-wrote and produced the new album for J-pop singer Kaela Kimura (木村カエラ). POP ETC found stateside success co-producing and co-writing WATERS’ new album featuring the hit single “I Feel Everything”.
The rest of 2014 was committed to POP ETC being holed up in Brooklyn, NY writing and recording material that continuously reflects the band’s fresh approach to music. “Running In Circles” is one of the first songs that came out of these sessions. The song embodies the crisp yet rugged aesthetic POP ETC has cultivated over the years. Chris Chu explains that the song is essentially about “losing track of where you are and where your life is taking you. It's about losing someone or something close to you and the disorientation that follows.” POP ETC worked with Yale Yng-Wong (Bear Hands, Chairlift) and Vlado Meller (Kanye West, Metallica) to mix and master “Running In Circles” which was initially unveiled at the worldwide start of 2015 (occurs in Samoa and Kiritimati).