Note: People Like You changed their name to Really From on February 28, 2018. Bassist Sai Boddupalli announced he was leaving the band on March 29, 2018.
People Like You self-describes as “emotionally driven jazz,” a phrase that is incredibly apt. With their syncopated, off-tempo beats and twisting-turning chorus of vocals, they create a sound that just feels like a late summer night goofing off with friends. And even as their songs vary in instrumental focus —from laid-back rhythm guitar to high-energy drums and trumpet to crisply pure vocals — they never lose their vibrant energy or breathtaking musicianship.
While they may have started small – their first show was at Cambridge’s own Democracy Center – they’ve grown a lot: “Spotify has been very kind to put our song 'Variations on an Aria' on two Fresh Finds playlists, and a Best of 2017 playlist as well, which we’re very happy and grateful for,” Chris Lee, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, tells me. “At the same time, Topshelf Records has sold out of the first pressing of [Verse] on vinyl and tape!”
The run on their second album, Verse, shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. Though People Like You’s first album, This is What You Learned, was released exclusively online, it still enjoyed a large audience.
“These online streaming services have allowed our music to reach people all over the world, people in places we would have never thought would know about us,” Lee says.
This popularity is not exclusive to online listeners. The band has cast their shadows on stages across town, including at the Middle East Upstairs and the Sinclair.
“Our show at the Sinclair is very memorable, not because we played it particularly well, but it was our first show with this current lineup,” says Lee. “I like to think of that moment where we really began to redefine our own sound.”
See, it’s been a little bit of a road for the band to come to their current sound. Formed from the remains of Lee’s old band, I Kill Giants, People Like You has gone through multiple musician and style changes.
“The first song we worked on together as a band was called 'Isaac,' which is the first song off of This is What You Learned,” Lee relates. “I wrote that song over the summer of 2013... that was the first song I showed [our drummer] Sander [Bryce] and our old bassist Nick at the time... when we were recording it in the studio, that was the first song that I had Matt [Hull] improvise trumpet over at the end, before he became a full time member, along with Michi [Tassey, on keyboard and vocals].”
This final line-up of a quintet is formidable indeed. That improvisation from Matt on the trumpet clinched their sound, creating a joyful through-line that Sander, Lee, Michi and bassist Sai Boddupalli hang their own inspired work from. But one cannot create such a beautiful noise in a void. And you can definitely hear that in the creative range of styles that People Like You plays with in their albums.
“We all love different artists and and draw from different influences, which adds to our sound,” says Lee. “We all listen to different music, ranging from jazz to indie to classical. But more than specific band, we draw influence from the community of incredible artists and musicians that we keep. Our friends in bands like Animal Flag or Zanders are all great songwriters and musicians, and their work inspires us to keep improving our own craft.”
As does jamming out to the songs of artists, such as, Lee claims, “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba.
While People Like You don’t have immediate concert plans in the Boston-area, they do entreat us to stay tuned – they plan to be around for a while. When I ask where they hope to be in five years, Lee gives me an answer that lines up perfectly with the joyous nostalgia of the bands music:
“Alive. Still playing music. Hopefully releasing more albums and playing more shows. Hopefully happy.”
We believe it.