Lovely Sand Dunes talk about their debut EP, Unusual Times, and current music influences

Lovely Sand Dunes
Lovely Sand Dunes - photo provided by band

The California trio of Lovely Sand Dunes have recently released their debut EP, Unusual Times, out now, and features five original singles, which are written by all three members, Claire French, Gavin Ortiz and Anthony Zelaya. We first featured Lovely Sand Dunes in their first interview last year (2018), which can be read here.

We caught up with the trio and spoke with them about their debut EP, the original artwork for the cover, their current music influences and much more.

Clairese French
Claire French – Lead Vocalist of Lovely Sand Dunes – Photo provided by band

You guys’ EP was released on June 7; what was the writing and recording process for it like?


Claire French & Gavin Ortiz: The writing and recording process was pretty long. First we had all 5 songs written months before even recording them. For example we’ve had the song “Not A Love Song” since the first album DEP VED. But we needed to add drums to it , to complete the song. Another song like “Can’t Be Said;” the solo was improvised during the studio time.

Overall, the entire recording process was a great positive experience, especially for our time being in a recording studio. It exceeded our expectations.

Anthony Zelaya: We had “Not A Love Song” and “Past Days” written prior to Gavin joining the band but we knew we always wanted drums on them and he was a perfect fit. The others were written throughout time improvising and jamming with Gavin and Claire. Usually a riff happens then Claire and myself figure out a melody and some lyrics and the overall mood of the song. Lastly, Gavin adds his touch with the drums. Recording was great, as it was our first time in the studio so it was all new to us but our manager, Mike (Barbee), and the producers made us all feel at home. It was a great time playing our music through lots of vintage gear and hearing our songs come together. Those five days recording were a beautiful experience, I wasn’t thinking about the outside world at all and just focused on sounds and melodies and tried to play with as much emotion as I could. Seeing Gavin and Claire do their thing was also great, and I couldn’t have asked for anyone else to play in the studio with.

Love the artwork; what was the idea behind it?

Claire: The artwork was an original piece I painted on acrylics and canvas. When I painted it, I never thought too much of that particular painting. As an artist I suppose you are a little self-critical of your own work. It went in my closet for a month or so, being abandoned, until we needed ideas for the EP, and that’s when Anthony had suggested that it would be used. Thus, the album cover.

Anthony: I made the recommendation to use that painting as our EP cover. It was an old painting that Claire did and gave to me because she didn’t think much of it. A few months pass and when we needed an album cover every one liked the alien lady and the decision was made.

Are you going to release music videos this year?

Claire & Gavin: We should be making new music videos. Which ones are to be determined.

Anthony: We hope so. We don’t have any set ideas for any of the new songs but it should be fun coming up with concepts and deciding which song will be the first for a music video.

Anthony Zelaya
Anthony Zelaya – Guitarist for Lovely Sand Dunes – Photo provided by band

I know you guys are doing some shows this year in correlation with the release EP; any future shows on the East and Midwest Coast?

Claire & Gavin: We are doing a small tour of the Midwest. We have a couple of shows in Michigan, Alabama and other places.

Anthony: Dates are still coming in. We have a few shows near Michigan. I’m excited to get on the road with Mike (Barbee), the band and play music to a new audience every night. I also want to see some of the country-side.

When do you guys want to release a full album, since I know more songs have been written that didn’t make the cut to the EP this time around? 

Claire & Gavin: There is no exact date yet, but we would like to maybe when the time comes.

Anthony: Not sure when we would want to release a full album. I think the best thing to do is to go out and see how Unusual Times is doing, enjoy the shows and the release, and when the time feels right we will start working on a full-length. Claire and I are always writing new material so I’m curious to see which songs we will ditch and which ones will make it on our next project.

Who have you guys been influenced by musically for this particular EP? 

Claire & Gavin:
Musically my influences always change, I was influenced in the studio by a lot of Eminem’s early stuff; i.e., the Marshal Mathers LP. I was influenced by his lyrics and the emotion he put into his music, especially since we recorded near Detroit the vibes were very heavy. There was also vocally a lot of Chris Cornell’s influence mostly his solo acoustic stuff.

Anthony: Personally, I was really influenced by Eddie Vedder’s (Pearl Jam) acoustic work I listened to him on the flight to Michigan and the day before we started recording in the studio. I have so many influences but Eddie’s (Vedder) lyrics and voice were in my mind the whole time. So I thank him, his intensity and care, towards music for the inspiration.

Gavin Ortiz - Lovely Sand Dunes
Gavin Ortiz – Lovely Sand Dunes – Photo by provided by band

Follow and connect with Lovely Sand Dunes on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Purchase Unusual Times and Lovely Sand Dunes merchandise HERE.



Lindsey Borders

Lindsey is an avid music enthusiast, and has worked in every capacity that music and entertainment have to offer. Because her parents had her young, she grew up on mostly '70s and '80s music, which was a staple in their household every day. She has interviewed a wide range of artists, actors and authors, including Lzzy Hale (Halestorm), Jake Kiszka (Greta Van Fleet), Beth Hall ("Mom," "Mad Men"), Chris McNally ("When Calls the Heart"), Anna Todd (After), among numerous others. Catch her on Instagram and Facebook @talentinborders.


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