Back in 2013, singer-songwriter Connie Hong was in a five-piece band called Reviving Cecilia with her best friend and co-vocalist Ali Goossens. The group’s stock was on the rise as its local profile continued to bloom, until Goossens landed a contract job in Korea teaching English. That news coincided with Hong's father getting very sick and needing a lot of help at home. Hong’s priorities were changing.
“It was a really hard time for me emotionally,” Hong says. “So the songs that I was writing didn’t seem to suit the band that I was currently in, and, especially with Ali leaving the country, I decided to pursue something completely different. Chris [Beeble] had just graduated from DU, and I asked him to help me with production, with new recordings, and he was really excited about it.”
Initially, Hong saw Ivory Circle as a solo project, a means to vent the ultra-personal songs that she had been penning. But as she began working with Beeble, his own band was breaking up. The timing was too perfect to ignore, and the pair just kept working together. Percussionist Robby Spradling completed the lineup.
Taking the group’s name from the first street she remembers living on, Hong and the Ivory Circle began performing the songs that she had been writing from her own life experiences, good and bad. She previously worked as a teacher and would write music during her breaks to play for the students.
“Mainly, I just was really stressed out with my job,” Hong says. “That was also coinciding with my dad being sick, and being a teacher is a really stressful, time-consuming job to be in. I used my breaks as my venting period, and my students enjoyed hearing me sing, so I would play the songs for them for fun, and they enjoyed it. It was a good outlet for me.”
The first Ivory Circle release was 2013’s Entropy EP, back when it really was a solo project (just Hong and a piano). Now the project is in the midst of a trilogy of EPs named after triangles. Equilateral was the first of the triangle series, and then came Isosceles. On Friday, the “We Could Be in Love” single and video will be released and celebrated with a show at the hi-dive. The song will be on the third EP in the series, and for the video, Hong tapped old connections.
“Ali, from my old band, she’s married to a musician called Mike Morter, and he was in a band who were pretty prominent in Denver years ago called Churchill,” Hong says. “But he does videography now, so he put up a blog post about a video he was experimenting with — a couple that he was shooting their wedding video for. I really liked that, so I reached out to him, and he did most of the shooting.”
The concept for the video was developed by Beeble, telling a tale that is a mix of real life and fantasy.
“It’s an abstract thought of a woman who is in love with someone who doesn’t know it,” Hong says. “That’s the general idea — the insecurity of liking someone and not knowing how they feel and not knowing where it could go, mixed in with the fantasy of what it could be like to be in a relationship or be in love with that person.”
It’s a gorgeous video and a beautiful song, blending the epic, swathing angst of a Florence + the Machine with a touch of Beach Boys melodies and harmonies. And while Ivory Circle has attempted videos before, this one is the band's most ambitious effort.
“I think this was a lot more enjoyable than other ones that we’ve done,” Hong says. “They take such a long time, and we’ve done them all pretty much ourselves. I think with this video in particular, it was a little bit easier. We planned ahead for a lot of the possible snafus.”
At the hi-dive on Friday, Ivory Circle will premiere the video, projected onto the bar wall, before playing a full set.
“We’re gonna have the full light show, which we’ve done for a few of our headlining shows before,” Hong says. “Lots of energy. The official members in our band are me, Chris and Robby, but for this full show we’ll have someone playing keys, guitar and another percussionist. So there’ll be six of us in total on stage. It’s not very often that I don’t play, so this will be a rare occurrence where I’m not gonna be playing, just singing. Plus, we love playing the hi-dive. It’s probably one of our favorite venues in Denver.”
After that, Ivory Circle will start working on a new video for another single from the third EP, which will be released soon. For now, enjoy the video for “We Could Be in Love.”
Ivory Circle plays with Navy and Whisky Autumn, 9 p.m. Friday, October 13, hi-dive, 7 South Broadway, 303-733-0230, $10-$12.
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