The Spacies find their home in Summit County
Inside Ross Lara’s Silverthorne studio sit vintage keyboards and analog synthesizers such as a 1978 Korg and an Oberheim Matrix-6 from 1985. The old instruments are making fresh sounds in a new location that Lara and David Cook hope will inspire the next generation of musicians to experiment and push boundaries.
“Nothing beats putting your hand on an instrument,” Lara said.
Known professionally as The Spacies, the duo blends electronic and acoustic music for thousands of listeners across the globe. They could make music from anywhere, especially during a pandemic, but Lara and Cook relocated to Summit County from California last year.
The now permanent home has always held a special place in their hearts. Lara went to middle school in the county before his father’s business moved the family to northern Virginia in high school. It was in the D.C. area that he met Cook, who was the vocalist, guitarist and pianist for the band My Favorite Highway, through mutual friends around 2007. Lara was DJing at the time, and the synergy between them organically grew over the years into The Spacies.
The band’s sound began more focused on electronic dance music, had a brief stint in the rap genre and has recently shifted closer to pop in the style of Coldplay.
“Our music has truly evolved as our inspirations and what is meaningful to us in life has evolved and changed,” Lara said.
They aren’t tied to a particular style because the band acts as an independent, creative outlet that isn’t a main source of income. Lara does media composition for film, video games, television and brands. Cook mixes and produces records with pop and country musicians like Florida Georgia Line while traveling to Nashville and Los Angeles.
Lara and Cook have done other collaborations throughout their careers such as making Korean pop songs together. Yet the moves to northern Silverthorne and Heeney mark the first time the pseudo-neighbors have lived in the same county since first forming the band in 2012.
“I’m just very lucky to make music with people I really enjoy making music with,” Lara said. “When you’re in the industry this long, there’s so many great stories and so many great projects that one can be involved with. We’re very fortunate in that regard.”
Lara’s family still lives in Breckenridge, and he and Cook have been visiting for annual snowmobiling trips for about 10 winters, making music and having fun. Lara and his wife had planned to move to the county eventually, but the pandemic accelerated the desire to escape LA.
“Being here hasn’t really changed anything for either of our careers because the entire industry has been remote as it is,” Cook said. Even when living in Encinitas, California, Cook would work virtually with artists like Canada-based Tate McRae.
What the move has done is given The Spacies a playground ripe with imagination. Last year, Cook and Lara recorded music and vocals in an abandoned gold mine on Georgia Pass for the song “This One.” Lara brought an African instrument called a kalimba, and they headed about 300 feet into the mountainside with their recording equipment just to see what it would be like. They found a setting to naturally create reverberation effects rather than using digital software.
“That reverb doesn’t exist anywhere else, but all those plug-ins exists everywhere else,” Lara said.
It wasn’t the only time The Spacies got adventurous. For the music video of “Infinity,” they climbed up a tall via ferrata route in British Columbia while a helicopter circled overhead. Cook said they try to incorporate nature and the outdoors as much as possible.
“We’re snowmobilers, we’re mountain lovers, outdoor lovers, and we just happen to make music, too,” Lara added. “It’s just a big part of Summit County.”
Riding at Rabbit Ears Pass, Vail Pass and in Wyoming — along with skiing and snowboarding at Copper Mountain Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort in the winter and mountain biking at Keystone Resort in the summer — doesn’t leave them much performing or recording time outside of their regular jobs.
The Spacies have performed live on only a few occasions, even before the pandemic. Cook and Lara may only be two people, but they use their multi-instrumentalist skills to create layered tracks.
“I think if we did a show, it would be a stripped version with acoustic guitar and piano,” Cook said. “Some of our songs will have like 100 different elements or more.”
Since they get to make music on their own terms, they’re fine with not spending months on the road. Sometimes it takes them a year to finish a song, and they currently have two that are a year-and-a-half in the making. The creativity would come in waves for whenever they could align their schedules.
“It’s actually a little embarrassing sometimes,” Cook said, laughing. “But it is what it is,” Lara added.
“We clearly don’t force it because sometimes it takes months and months to finish a song,” Lara said. “Which is great. Everything we put out, we curated it really very well, and we slave over every note, every bar, every word. That’s just the way we like to do it. I like to think of songs already existing out in the universe. Then we get invited to be a part of them and find them hiding.”
The Spacies’ first full-length album, “A Little Bit of Lost” came out in 2018. The group has dropped about 50 songs with the latest, “To the Sky,” being released on March 17. Eventually, they’ll group the latest singles into a new EP that they plan to have by the end of summer.
Afterward, The Spacies aim to change gears and start working on a musical in the fall that will incorporate electronic sounds, string quartet and more. Cook grew up singing songs from musicals like “South Pacific” and “The Phantom of the Opera” and wants to channel that passion into this story-driven project.
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