Four individuals. One vision. Endless possibilities. Meet New West. The Toronto-based "collective" comprises four individual artists, namely Kala Wita, Vella, Ben Key, and Noel West. For as different as they respectively may be in terms of where they're from, how they create, and why they're here, they fit together as seamlessly as long-lost puzzle pieces. They rotate between instruments and pass around the mic, morphing in real-time across each and every song with an unabashedly warm nostalgic undercurrent. Tracing an invisible line all the way from the British Invasion to 21st century alternative R&B, they defy genre as they simultaneously define a singular style on their 2023 forthcoming full-length debut for Republic Records and much more to come.
"This isn't a traditional band," observes Noel. "Everyone in the group is an artist. It's not like one guy plays guitar and another guy plays bass in the traditional sense. We all contribute. That's why we call it a collective. I'm the only one who can't sing," he laughs.
Their origins date back to 2017. Childhood friends Noel and Ben began to collaborate with Kala. Eventually, Ben invited Vella to the fold, crystallizing the sound. Raised in the digital music ecosystem, influences spanned Elton John, The Beatles, and Rolling Stones as well as Radiohead, Frank Ocean, and hometown heroes Drake and The Weeknd. They translated a collective passion for music into countless hours writing and recording together.
"We're all speaking the same language, but we have our individual accents and tendencies," notes Kala. "The common bond is we're always searching for inspiration."
They doubled down on this search at the onset of the global pandemic. Coincidentally, the collective had just rented the same house together. Once quarantine happened, the kitchen and living room transformed into a de facto studio. "That's where we really came together as a group by living with each other," says Ben.
Their very first release "Those Eyes" hinted at the potential of their chemistry. Its lush lo-fi acoustic guitar, dreamy piano, lullaby melody, and quotable play-by-play of a relationship in full bloom instantly reacted with listeners worldwide. It initially popped off on TikTok (the guys aren't quite sure where but it's all good), and the success slowly but surely translated to streaming platforms. Between the Original and "Sped Up" version, it clocked nearly 150 million Spotify streams.
"Kala had those lyrics, and we came up with chords they felt good over," adds Ben. "The whole song was born from there. The rest is history."
"That song really brought us closer," Kala continues. "We knew what we could be at that point."
They maintained their momentum with independent singles such as "Next To You," "Call Me When You Hear This Song," "Paris," and more. 2022 saw the band sign to Republic Records as they staunchly maintained a D.I.Y. mindset with Noel producing, mixing, engineering, and mastering everything.
"The entire project is insular," affirms Noel. "We're not going to take some new direction. When we are trying new things, it happens between the four of us. There's no external influence."
In the end, New West conjure a familiar feeling through a fresh perception.
"We want you to be taken back to a place," Kala leaves off. "If you are, we're doing something right."
"It's like saying a new thing, but from an old friend rather than a stranger," Noel offers. "There's a warmth and familiarity, but we're also pushing forward at the same time."
"We're a warm hug from an old friend in new clothes," promises Kala.