Danny Ellis attended Valhalla High School, where he sang tenor in the choir. It was a rewarding experience, one that sent him to Europe three times.
“I sang at the Vatican, all around Rome, Germany, and Spain,” he said.
...off of Splavender's Shoreline Dilemma
After high school, Ellis attended Humboldt State for one year, where he majored in vocal music, but he was doing so much music outside of school that he wanted to switch gears. He moved back to San Diego and played in a progressive indie-rock band called Real Things Are Good. When that band fizzled, he began recording his own music under the moniker of Splavender.
“This kid I knew in college used to put weed, tobacco, and lavender into papers and roll it up and smoke it,” Ellis said. “Instead of calling it a ‘spliff,’ he called it a ‘splavender.’ I just thought it was funny, so when I was looking for a band name, I decided to use it.”
The music of Splavender reflects its influences, which are, primarily, Pavement, Steely Dan, and the Beach Boys. It’s complex pop with psychedelic, genre-hopping tendencies. Originally it was just Ellis playing and recording everything but the drums, but soon three high school buddies from the Coronado Arts Academy (Oscar Carrion, Andre Flores, and Grant Goibert) joined the cause on bass, synth, and guitar, respectively. Drummer Anthony Noriega, a friend of Ellis’s since sixth grade, joined Splavender further down the road.
Ellis cites a unique attribute known as synesthesia (a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway) as a key aspect to his creative thinking.
“I have really colorful, visualizations with music. There are certain words, when anytime I hear them, I get a mustard taste in my mouth. It’s one of those uncontrollable things,” he explained.
His senses working on overdrive may have inspired the concept for his March show at Mike Hess Brewing. The evening will feature a live set by Splavender, and a flight of tasters — each beer chosen to complement a song.
For example, Splavender’s song “My Chiffonier” will be paired with Hess’ Habitus Double IPA: “Bitter and emotionally resonating lyrics that are accompanied by jangly, sun-soaked guitar riffs.”
“This is one of those synesthetic experiences where we’re trying to enhance multiple senses at the same time. The music can enhance the beer, and the beer can enhance the music,” Ellis said.
Splavender plays the Mira Mesa location of Mike Hess Brewing on Friday, March 18.