Go Periscope's Gotta Have a Hook

Reality TV pays off for this Seattle electro-pop duo.

In December 2008, Joshua Frazier and Florin Merano, the Seattle-based electro-pop duo Go Periscope, decided they were ready for their radio debut. Their best bet, they agreed, was to put their music in the hands of C-89.5 FM radio personality and DJ Richard J. Dalton. "We bought VIP passes to the C-89 Listener Appreciation Party for the sole purpose of meeting him," Frazier recalls with a sheepish laugh. To "loosen up," the two had "some" drinks prior to embarking on their mission at Hangar 30 at Magnuson Park, says Merano. The move proved distracting. "I ended up on a platform 40 feet above the stage, which I only know because of photos on my iPhone, so it's safe to say I failed," he notes dryly. Frazier, however, stayed on track. "I saw Richard, made a beeline for him, gave him the lame 'I'm sure you get this all the time, but . . . ' line, and handed him our CD," he says. Two months passed. "I remember getting it and adding it to a pile of mix CDs," Dalton admits. "I wasn't even sure what it was; it was labeled 'To RJD' and had a MySpace address on it with the only legible letters being 'GOP.' It looked Republican-related, so I didn't get to it real quick." Go Periscope assumed Dalton didn't like their music or, more realistically, never even listened to it. Then they received a MySpace message from him requesting a track list so he could play some songs on the air. "I was really impressed when I did get to it," Dalton says. "Go Periscope was ahead of the game; people were just starting to bite on music like that at the beginning of 2009." Thanks to a manic dance smash called "Crush Me," Go Periscope has since gone on to become one of the only unsigned acts ever to top C-89's charts—besting major players like Deadmau5 and Rihanna this summer—and their music has been featured on popular TV shows like The Hills and The Real World. Not too shabby, especially given that less than two years ago, these guys were attending parties just so they could get radio jocks to give their music the time of day. Frazier and Merano are longtime friends who attended Tyee High School in SeaTac. Frazier taught himself to play guitar and Merano became well-versed in digital audio software, but it wasn't until after graduation in 2003 that they became aware of their mutual enthusiasm for music. "One day [Merano] casually mentioned that he made music and shared one of his songs," recalls Frazier, now 24. "I remember I got really excited. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that he had created it on his own. Then I said, 'Hey, let me add guitar to that!' And that was how it started." They began meeting most weekends to write, produce, and master songs in a spare bedroom they turned into a makeshift studio using mattresses to soundproof the walls. "We did at least a hundred demos," says Merano, 25. "The first one was so embarrassing that we won't even tell you the name of it. But we were determined to get really good and develop a distinct sound. We didn't sleep; we stopped going out; we were like zombies. All our friends thought we died." At the beginning of 2010, they released an eponymous 15-track LP. Both Frazier and Merano are credited on vocals and keyboards, while Frazier also plays guitar. The album is populated by smart, unabashed pop music—think The Postal Service, but more mainstream—embellished with dance beats, layered vocals, and saccharine lyrics. So it makes sense that Go Periscope, without a hint of irony, cites Dr. Luke, the producer responsible for hits by Katy Perry and Ke$ha, as an inspiration. "The hook is what makes you want to hear a song over and over again," Merano observes. "Hooks are everything. If we start a song and there's no obvious hook, we scrap it right away." Go Periscope's approach has paid off. A music coordinator from Bunim/Murray Productions, a company responsible for a slew of reality TV shows, contacted Go Periscope after stumbling across their debut album on sixtyone.com, a streaming-media website that promotes music mostly by independent artists. At the time, Bunim/Murray was working on The Real World: Washington, D.C. One of the housemates who garnered the most attention on the show, which aired from December 2009 to March 2010, was an attractive bisexual woman named Emily, which also happens to be the name of one of Go Periscope's songs, a beguiling melody about a girl who wreaks havoc and causes heartbreak for both her lover and herself. "We like to put as much new music on our shows as we can," says Zsuzsanna Cohen, director of music for Bunim/Murray. " [Go Periscope is] a great band and 'Emily' is a beautiful song. Sometimes you just get lucky and find the right song for the right scene. This was one of those times." MTV posts artists' names and song titles onscreen, so that viewers are better able to seek out the music that airs on each show. The first time "Emily" played on The Real World, which averages 1.5 million viewers per episode, there was a noticeable spike in traffic on goperiscope.net, MySpace, and YouTube. "We were wondering why the numbers were suddenly so high in the middle of the afternoon," Merano says laughing. "In less than an hour, we went from a couple visitors to 600 and then over 1,000. Then we realized we hadn't taken into account East Coast time. It felt good to know that people watched the show and actually paid attention to the song information because they wanted to hear it again." The television exposure resulted in what Frazier and Merano describe as an "insane" increase in "Emily" downloads and album sales. The numbers continued to spike whenever MTV re-aired the episode. Go Periscope's breakout potential is obvious: Not only do Frazier and Merano play infinitely edible music, they also boast boy-band charm and good looks. They claim to have been contacted by many independent and major record labels. While they wait for their shot, Frazier and Merano share an apartment with one other roommate in Eastlake and work full-time in IT and graphic design, respectively. "There are literally times where we are working on music for 48 hours straight and then all we want to do is sleep," Frazier says. "But we have to financially support ourselves, so we get up and go to work." Go Periscope continues to create music; they recently released The Mixtape, a 10-track album available for free download on Bandcamp. But while providing a soundtrack for Audrina Patridge and company to frolic through Los Angeles is a step in the right direction, Go Periscope has loftier goals. "We are definitely grateful for the opportunities we've been given," Merano says. "But we don't view them as 'This could be it!' moments. We soak them in and enjoy them for a bit, then we move on and continue working our asses off. Because we want more—way more." ehobart@seattleweekly.com

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