Posted March 7, 2017
By ZACHARY DEVITA
As the electronic beats vibrate and a smooth sound reminiscent of rain drops pours in, a soothing voice calls out, emulating the mix of a dark and light atmosphere that can be heard on the song, “Ghosts.” Found on Mint Trip’s first EP, “Books,” the song uses electronic beats, jazzy guitar and a pop overtone to demonstrate not only the uniqueness of its sound, but the band itself.
Formed at UM at the Frost School of Music in January 2015, Mint Trip is made up of vocalist Amy Gionfriddo (24), bassist Brian Gross (23) and guitarist Max Molander (23). The three came together thanks to Gross and Molander, who needed two more ensemble credits to graduate. Although they had already been very good friends before they started working together, the creation of a Do It Yourself (or DIY) ensemble allowed them to create and combine their musical backgrounds and talents.
In a DIY ensemble, the artists have free range to create whatever type of music they want, using any types of instruments they want. The requirement is to create three original songs, which they would have to perform in place of an exam.
“It clicked. It was new and felt right. That’s what made it fun,” said Gionfriddo who, while receiving no credit for being part of the ensemble, benefited from their discovery of musical unity. The group soon discovered that working together brought out original and creative music due to different elements each member carried to the table. Thus, Mint Trip was born.
Mint Trip, who was the winner of WVUM’s songwriting competition in 2016, released “Books” August of last year and received high praise for it’s different sound and haunting lyrical work. The EP was cited for its mixture of contemporary music, combining sounds of electronic, pop and indie to name a few. However, the band is bent on expanding not only their own sound, but the sound of modern music as well.
“Mint is such a unique term. It can be a color, a flavor, a smell. So, we decided to make it a sound,” Gross stated when asked about the band’s name. While many streaming apps define that sound as a mix of electronic music and pop, the band does not want to pigeon hole itself into one genre.
“The combination of us all defines our sound. Our own personal styles and upbringings really factor into the work. I would say our sound is very organic and true to who we are,” said Molander, who was one of the driving forces behind the song “Ghost.”
Only a year and half after forming, the band had signed with Blue Élan Records in June 2016 and made its way out to the West Coast. They are currently working on their first full length album which is scheduled for release in April 2018. The album’s inspiration blossomed from their long road trip from Miami to L.A.
“The vibe [in Los Angeles] musically is dreamy and washed out…the multiple venues, bands and shows we are able to see provide us with even more inspiration to create music,” Gionfriddo said, while describing some differences between Miami and L.A.
While their first EP relied more on in studio work and use of the of the music software, Ableton, the band plans to focus more on experimenting with their instruments for their new album.
“We want the album to follow the flow of Mint Trip. The idea that it can accompany any journey someone embarks on,” Molander said, placing emphasis on the band delving deeper into their sound. “As we work more together and make more music together, we want to set ourselves apart and make something that is more out there.”
The band began writing and working on songs for the album as early as January of this year. They plan to develop and tinker with the music to produce that unique sound they are working so hard on to achieve.
The group reflected on how the Frost School of Music brought them together and made them stronger musicians. “We learned and grew from our experiences there, but it [the band] would have happened anyway. The school acted less as an enabler and more of a catalyst,” Gross stated.
Cristian Hitchcock, president of Cane’s Records, met the band through mutual friends while they were still at UM. “I was extremely impressed by their ability to work together flawlessly. The fact that each person in the group brought different skills and sounds to their music,” Hitchcock said when asked about his first time listening to Mint Trip.
He praised the individual ability of each of the band members, which he cited as the reason for their exceptional and different sounding music. Their diverse backgrounds allow them to blend into one harmonious and stirring group.
“They are one of the few groups I met here at UM that have the ability to move on and be successful [within the music industry.]”
Hitchcock agreed with the band when asked to define their genre.
“I don’t think you can really confine them to one [genre]. As they grow and discover what works for them, they will eventually find their focus. But I can only see bigger and better things,” he said.
The band’s ability to play at multiple venues along with connecting and networking with other artists in the City of Angels, provides a solid base to a promising start. When asked what the message of their new album is, Gionfriddo answered, “The thing you wanna do, go do it. Drop what you’re doing, work together and try something new. It’s scary to go out there and create, but go for it.”