Kruel Summer Is Dropping Beach Vibe Hits Like “Back Then” All Season Long

KRUEL SUMMER is a new project based in San Jose, CA formed by previous members of The Holdup (Clev Stiles & Kyle Christensen). Also in the line up is Ben Dimmit, Sergio Elisondo and Shane Billings who make up the full official Kruel Summer lineup. Kruel Summer's authentic music follows a unique mix of sounds which include influences of Reggae, Indie Rock and Hip Hop. The vision is to produce catchy, chill, sing along Summer vibes all year round. Lead singer Clev Stiles’ lyrics follow a good time summer vibe. Kruel Summer is currently in the studio working on their debut LP which is target to drop spring of 2020. 

“Back Then” is a catchy and cheeky new tune that expertly showcases the flawless blend of Indie Rock and Hip-Hop. Kruel Summer’s lyricism is clever and quick witted as they weave through storytelling elements. The infectious guitar riff’s layered with the melodic backbeats demand to be heard. “Back Then” demands attention with its chill summer vibe and retrospective lyricism. Kruel Summer has a contagious chemistry that makes anyone want to groove along to their mellow tunes. I love the light-heartedness that spreads a positive energy out of the speakers. Kruel Summer has made an incredible launch into the music industry with their debut single “Back Then” and we can’t wait to hear more! 

Listen to “Back Then” here and read more below in our exclusive interview!


Hey Kruel Summer! Thanks for chatting with us! How did Kruel Summer come together? Did you know each other before the band formed?

Clev: Kyle Christensen, my bass player, and I played in another band called "The Holdup" for many years. We parted ways with The Holdup to start this new project Kruel Summer. He joined me early on in the project and has been one of my best friends for years. We always knew we would play music together.

My guitar players, Ben Dimmitt and Sergio Elisondo, have always been close friends of mine, but we never really jammed until I started writing Kruel Summer songs. We quickly started jamming ideas in the garage and solidifying a vibe and direction. Ben and Sergio were a huge part of why I actually got the project off the ground. They put in a lot of hours practicing in the garage with me, and I cannot thank them enough for pushing and believing in me.

I met our drummer Shane Billings at a Coast Modern concert. He approached me as a fan of our previous band. He wanted to audition for Kruel Summer and said he could start right away. At the time I didn’t think we were ready for a drummer but I agreed to meet and give it a shot. That following week, we all got together and jammed as a band for the first time. The chemistry and vibe was perfect. We knew right away Shane was our guy. We made it official and finalized the lineup.

How does living in California inspire your sound?

Clev: Being born and raised in California I can’t really picture living anywhere else. The diversity of people and all the different influences in music and art here heavily influence the Kruel Summer sound. I grew up listening to every genre you can think of punk, reggae, ska, indie rock, soul, pop, hip hop, you name it, and I think when you play back the tracks you will get a little of everything. The songs end up having that natural laid back beach vibe, but it's meshed with different sounds including indie riffs over 808's drums layer over an acoustic guitar with melodic pop style vocals. It's a blend of everything "cool" that I grew up listening to as a kid.

What’s the meaning behind your track “Back Then”? What inspired it?

Clev: The chorus/hook "I don't know you like I did back then" was written before the verses... I had been going through a transition of circles of friends and it was just a line that I would find myself repeating to myself in my head, it was fitting to what was going on at the time. When I started working on the actual song and it's verses, I wanted to explain more of a story that would resonate with listeners in situations they are most likely experiencing or have experienced in the past. Back Then is about struggling between keeping a friendship/relationship or letting it go. It’s about that someone who switched up on you and is no longer the same person you once knew. Do you work on it, keep trying, or just let it go?

Things won’t ever seem to be the same, like they were back then.

What challenges have you faced as up and coming artists? How do you overcome these challenges?

Clev: For me personally, it's been the effort in proving myself, showing I can lead and front a band. This is my first time ever attempting to sing and play guitar as a lead singer. I never once thought in my life I would end up on this side of the stage. I always worked behind the scenes, managing artists, producing or DJ'ing. I searched from 2014-2018 for a lead singer who had the vibe to front my project, unfortunately, I was never able to find a someone who understood the vision and sound I was trying to create. The chemistry was simply not there. I finally came to a crossroad in early 2018, in which I needed to decide, If I was either going to trash this project or attempt to do it myself. After contemplating all the pros, cons, fears and doubts (mostly doubts), I decided… Why not? I truly believed the content was fresh, the melodies were there, I had the vision and knew what sounded good. What's the worst that can happen I asked myself...I get a few haters, no plays, no views, no likes.. Whatever.. I was going to work hard and put myself out there and whatever happens, happens. I recorded a few scratch demos and shared them to small groups of listeners, and to my surprise they were actually receptive. At that point I knew I had to stop second guessing myself and just follow my heart. Thats the only way anyone will ever over come any challenge, trust yourself and just do it. No matter what it takes, do it.

What overall theme can your listeners expect from your upcoming debut LP?

Clev: Listeners can expect a nice mash up of new sounds and mixed genres. Fun, feel good music that fits the perfect summer day party. True stories of growing up, fucking up, learning and moving on. The theme will be always be fun yet meaningful. I guess at the end of the day I am more curious to know what the listeners felt the overall theme and message was. I have no idea or expectations as to where this is going, I just know listeners will connect, resonate and enjoy the journey. Maybe ask me this question next year when the full album drops.


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