Pop Quiz: Capital Cities


Aidin Vaziri | Roundly ignored when it was originally released two years ago, Capital Cities’ breakthrough single, “Safe and Sound,” took a circuitous route to becoming one of the biggest hits of the year. The Los Angeles electro-pop duo, made up of Sebu Simonian and San Francisco native Ryan Merchant, has spent the past few months chasing the song around the world while promoting its full-length debut, “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery.” The group caps its whirlwind year with an appearance Friday at Live 105’s Not So Silent Night concert at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Merchant talked with The Chronicle.

Q:Safe and Sound” has almost 5 million views on YouTube. How much of the credit goes to the trumpet?

A: I think the trumpet was a smart production decision on our part. We reproduced that song eight or nine times. That particular melodic line was laid by a synth in the early versions, and it felt a little bit light. It didn’t have this epic vibe we’d been going for. When we finally decided to bring in a trumpet player, it took off.

Q: You guys met on Craigslist. Were you at all concerned that one of you might get robbed?

A: In Los Angeles, it’s a pretty common way for bands to come together. I found Sebu’s ad up there, so I checked out his work and really liked what I heard. We came together and started working and had an immediate musical chemistry.

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