Surfaces, a pop duo from Texas that consists of Forrest Frank and Colin Padalecki, has had success both in the U.S. and globally, by creating a fresh, appealing sound that blends pop, soul, hip-hop, jazz and reggae. Perhaps best known for their 2020 hit “Sunday Best,” they are building a large following and they’re about to release their new album, called Pacifico.
Interestingly, Surfaces members Frank and Padalecki have made their own unique path. Although they grew up in Texas where country music is popular, they fell in love with pop, soul and hip-hop. They discovered their favorite genres online via music sites, and they met each other on SoundCloud.
Also, the duo is mostly self-contained as a creative team. On many of their songs, Frank & Padalecki are a two-man creative force, who write, sing and play most of the instruments. For their new album Pacifico, they rented a house in Malibu, California and created their songs at home that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
Pacifico contains 16 songs, that were mostly written & recorded last year in Malibu. On the process of creating Pacifico, Surfaces say: “We just wanted to make an album that harnessed the feeling of where we recorded it. We decided to get back to our roots and record with home audio equipment in a living room surrounded by nothing but open windows to capture the energy of each day in Malibu. For almost a month we woke up to this special scenic outlook and just made what that feeling gave us, hoping that our fans would be able to hear what we were seeing.”
The new album contains many highlights, including their single “Wave Of You,” an uptempo, pop/soul song that captures the breezy, ocean feeling of their Malibu surroundings. Other key songs are “Hideaway” (a feel-good song with rich harmonies), “Come With Me” (an uptempo dance cut featuring female artist Salem Ilese), plus “Let It Ride” and “Let Me Know.”
It was Surfaces’ hit “Sunday Best” that provided the breakthrough for the duo. Not only was the single a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but it was also a hit in other countries including Canada, Australia, France, Ireland and Belgium. Also, the popularity of “Sunday Best” caught the attention of superstar Elton John, who then collaborated with Surfaces and sang on their song, “Learn To Fly.”
Currently, along with the release of their Pacifico album, Surfaces is about to launch a concert tour called the Good 2 Be Back Tour. Produced by Live Nation, the tour will include shows in many U.S. cities.
Here’s the video of Surface’s single, “Wave of You.”
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Forrest Frank and Colin Padalecki of Surfaces. They discuss the making of their new album, and how they wrote their hit, “Sunday Best.”
DK: I read that you’re both from Texas. How did you get started with music and writing songs?
Forrest Frank: It’s kind of funny, because we didn’t really have a musical environment…it was mostly through the internet. We would see young artists and watch people on YouTube making beats and loving music. Both of us used to DJ, and we started to produce in our own bedrooms. Eventually, we met on SoundCloud and then we met in person after that.
DK: You’re both from Texas, yet you were passionate about soul and pop instead of country music.
Colin Padalecki: We grew up around a lot of country music in Texas. It was always funny—people would ask us if we were from California, because our sonics and our songwriting can be very beachy and feel like the West Coast. And me and Forrest always loved being around bodies of water, whether it was a lake or ocean. The one thing we [got from] country, was that country revolves around big hooks, so that influenced our songwriting. Obviously, once we had the beats, melody and the instrumentation down, we wanted to grab that big hook and make people remember it and feel it. So country definitely rubbed off on us.
Forrest: I wanted to add, I feel that with the internet—Spotify, Apple and other platforms—even in 2016 we were able to listen to a whole world of music and we both loved music. We were just pulling from our tastes…our tastes didn’t have to deal with our surroundings.
Colin: The internet became our true environment around us. We listened to hip-hop, jazz…it all became this one big blender and that’s why people can’t really pin us down to a genre, and we kind of liked that.
DK: I read that Forrest handles more of the vocals, and Colin handles more of the writing and production. Is that correct?
Here’s the video of Surface’s hit, “Sunday Best.”
Colin: Forrest does a lot of the production as well. We just trade off on songwriting. We’re usually in the same room, spinning ideas with each other and it all blends in.
DK: When you’re writing & recording, are you a two-man team, or do you bring in a lot of musicians when you cut an album?
Forrest: We were a two-man team for the new album. We brought in a close friend of ours named Conrad (aka Public Library Commute). He’s a producer & songwriter, and sonically he sounds like us. We love having him around, so we brought him in to shake things up and add some elements. But it’s typically just us two (in the studio).
DK: In 2017 you released your first album Surf, and then in 2019 you released your second album, Where The Light Is, which contained your hit, “Sunday Best.” Can you talk about your first two albums?
Colin: For the first album…me and Forrest were living in different parts of the country. He was living in Seattle—he graduated from college and took a job. I was still in college, but I would fly to Seattle. We recorded the first album on Forrest’s houseboat, and we didn’t really know what we were doing (laughs). We threw this album together that we really liked, and we showed it to our friends and they liked it. So we thought we’d put it on the internet and see where it went.
When it came to our second album (Where The Light Is), some of it was recorded in Seattle, and some of it was recorded in my college town in Texas. We had more of an idea of where we wanted to go with our songwriting, so it was more purposeful and focused, and some really fun sonics came around from that. Then it became like a landmark for us, where a lot of people responded to the album.
DK: I like your hit, “Sunday Best.” How did the two of you create this song?
Forrest: It’s funny. In a lot of interviews, if there’s a hit song, it’s like, “Oh yeah, the song just immediately came out.” And that’s exactly how this one felt. We were messing around, building up the production, and in the midst of that the melodies were coming out. I think we started with the hook, and we had an eight-bar loop. Then we added some more percussion elements and built it out (he sings the hook). Once we had that structure laid out, we wrote the verses. It was probably two or three hours (laughs) and we were done. Then we went outside…we were throwing a frisbee and listening to it, and it was like, “Yeah, this is nice…it might be something.”
Here’s the video of Surface’s song, “So Far Away.”
Colin: When we wrote it, we were literally in my college house in my bedroom (laughs) and we were recording it right next to my bed. Forrest had to move clothes in my closet to put a mic in there. And our headphone cable barely reached inside the closet.
DK: You’re about to release your new album, Pacifico, which you recorded in Malibu. Can you talk about making this album?
Forrest: For our last album (Horizons), we recorded here (in Texas) in the studio. So we experienced the studio feeling and having engineers. That’s really cool, but we wanted to go back to that home roots thing with the knowledge we have now. So we rented a house in Malibu with this breathtaking view. It’s a modern, boxy-style home, so all of the windows could open up, and we opened up the entire wall of the house. And for a half-month, all day every day, we would be letting ideas flow and producing the ideas and laying down stuff. We made 25 songs, and then we narrowed it down to 16 songs.
DK: Did you record the album in Malibu, during the past year with the Covid shutdown?
Colin: Yeah, it was in October 2020. It was nice to get away from Texas and hone in on [making the new album in Malibu]. It was a project where we could tune out what was happening and be in our own place, a creative hub. And seeing the ocean view and the flowers outside, it was letting all that energy come to us and it really came out well.
DK: Three of my favorite songs on your new album are “Wave Of You,” “Come With Me’ (featuring Salem Ilese) and “Let It Ride.” Can you talk about these songs?
Forrest: “Wave Of You’ is interesting, because it was the last song added to the project. Songwriting-wise, we were trying to relate to the feeling of falling for someone or something with a wave. You know the ocean is beautiful, waves are majestic, but they’re also powerful and fierce and they can wreck you. But they also can be beautiful. So I feel like that about relationships we’ve been in, and relationships we’re in right now.
Here’s the video of Surfaces’ song with Elton John, “Learn To Fly.”
DK: For your song “Come With Me,” were you friends with Salem Ilese, who is featured on the song?
Colin: “Come With Me” came to us quickly…it felt so good and it’s relaxing. It was like Fleetwood Mac, where you feel very peaceful when you hear it. We left the second verse open, thinking that maybe we could get a female vocal in there. And then Salem’s name came up in conversation. We felt her voice would sound very cool with this song, and so we talked to her. We felt her songwriting really related to ours and her voice sounds fantastic. We couldn’t have asked for a better collaboration and it came out beautiful.
DK: You’ll be launching a new concert tour soon, called the Good 2 Be Back Tour. You must be excited to play in front of fans again.
Colin: We’re in the midst of rehearsals right now. A live sound brings such a beautiful, different aspect to all these songs, especially the new ones that we recorded for Pacifico. Practicing any of the songs is exciting because obviously we haven’t played shows in over a year-and-a-half. It’s funny, because the shutdown happened right after “Sunday Best” started breaking and the shows were getting filled. So we got a sneak peak of the shows were before Covid, but we didn’t get the full 30-stop tour. This time around, we’re gonna go full force with a ton of stops with a few festivals sprinkled in. We’ve never played festivals, so we’re super-excited to play those.