ASU students create indie-pop duo, 76th Street

Remember Hannah Montana? The Disney Channel show about a normal teenage girl who lived a double life as a pop sensation? Remember thinking about how cool it would be to have “the best of both worlds”? Arizona State University sophomores Spencer Bryant and Haley Gold have balanced being best friends and starting their indie-pop duo, 76th Street.

Bryant and Gold are an inseparable pair. They spent the last decade almost literally attached at the hip. They’ve shared the same classrooms, shared the same home, shared the same hobbies and shared a love of music.

“You won’t see one of us without the other,” Bryant says.

The Beginning

Bryant and Gold began playing music and acting together in musicals when they were 10 years old. By the time they entered middle school they began to distance themselves from musical theatre and began to make their own music.

Senior year of high school they decided they wanted to get serious about making music and officially created their band. Previously, Bryant and Gold would book a show together, but perform separately, that is until a successful summer gig at Red Owl in Tempe convinced them to completely team up.

The girls decided to try singing a song together for the first time in public, and the audience loved their performance, Bryant says.

“That was kind of our first show that brought us from doing this whole thing in private at my house to ‘This is what we’ve been working on,'” Gold says.

Ironing out the logistics of the band took some time, but eventually Bryant and Gold found their niche.

“We went through four or five different band names,” Gold says. “We were Duet, and then we were Pocket Light and then we were Haley and Spencer."

Finally, the girls found a name that stuck. Growing up in North Scottsdale, they lived on opposite sides of the same street: hence their band’s name, 76th Street.

“We thought it symbolized us and our friendship,” Bryant says.

A Day in the Life

Gold and Bryant purposely arranged their school schedules so their focus could be on music. They take classes two days out of the week in order to make sure they have time to rehearse every day and book shows.

“Singing is what we want to be doing all the time,” Gold says. “We go to class and then go home and sing.”

However, neither is pursuing a specifically music-based major. Gold is studying Communications and Film, while Bryant is majoring in business communication.

“I thought if I majored in music theory or something I’d start to hate it and just dread homework,” Bryant says. “So I want to keep it my passion and study something separate.”

This year, they moved back to Scottsdale in order to focus entirely on their music and avoid some of the distractions they may face on-campus.

“It was hard to separate (from campus), but I think we’ve grown in music,” Bryant says.

Behind the Music

Like many artists in the music industry, 76th Street writes songs about their experiences. However, what separates them from the Taylor Swifts of the world is that the girls try to stay away from songs about heartbreak. Instead, they focus on writing songs about independence.

“If it’s a love song, we can’t make it cheesy,” Gold says.

Gold and Bryant said they get a lot of their inspiration from other duos like The Civil Wars, The Swell Season and the Indigo Girls.

“There aren’t too many girl duos on the market right now so it’s good to see that others have succeeded,” Gold says.

In the past year, 76th Street put out their first official single and music video. They worked with Robb Vallier, a Grammy-winning producer, and were able to have Rami Jaffee from the Foo Fighters play the organ on the track.

In addition to creating their own music, 76th Street also had the opportunity to audition for NBC’s The Voice. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it to the televised round, but Bryant said they learned a lot from the experience.

Two summers ago, 76th Street went on tour through Arizona, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico. As they traveled through the Four Corner States, Gold and Bryant got to meet many other local artists and learn from them.

“Every show there’s different musicians with different backgrounds,” Bryant says.

However, not everything has gone as smoothly as the girls had hoped. Trying to raise funds in order to record an EP has proved especially difficult.

Gold and Bryant attempted to raise $12,500 through Kickstarter, but they didn’t achieve their goal in the allotted month-long time frame.

“Even having all your family members being as generous as they were it still doesn’t even make a dent in the kind of money that you need to make to record the way you want to,” Gold says.

The Fans

76th Street’s fan-base has expanded over the last few years. The duo has over 1,000 likes on Facebook and has had the unique opportunity to interact with some of their fans either on stage or through social media.

After a recent performance at the Flagstaff Folk Festival a man offered to give the girls one of his hand-made mandolins.

“He said he’d been trying to save it for the perfect reason,” Gold says. “That’s like the reason I wanna succeed...I wanna show (fans like) him that we did it."

“We love what we do. It’s our hobby and our job and hopefully our career,” Gold says.

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