IN ANY OTHER CITY, they'd be termed a supergroup. But things being as casual as they are in Portland, Ylang Ylang is simply a group, albeit one that features the well-established talents of Charlie Salas-Humara (Panther, The Planet The), drummer Jake Morris (the Joggers), Ricci Swift on bass (Patterns), and Caroline Buchalter on viola (Spooky Dance Band). Named after the essential oil, Ylang Ylang might be the most conventional rock 'n' roll that frontman Salas-Humara has ever made: peppy, psych-tinged guitar rock, bolstered by an incredibly energetic rhythm section, with Morris channeling Keith Moon and Swift cramming every last Motown melody inside his bass.
"The whole concept," says Salas-Humara, "was I wanted to write pretty simple, poppy songs with a lot of harmonies, with me being more of the base with the guitar doing simple chords, and then have everyone else freak out all the time. I wanted it to be crazy pop music, loud like the Who or Big Star. I'm trying to meld the Who and Badfinger together, I suppose, kind of with a mild punk vibe, because the songs are faster."
Ylang Ylang has only played a handful of shows so far, but they're working on a full-length to come out on Jackpot Records, perhaps later this year. Meanwhile, Salas-Humara hasn't entirely put his Panther electro-lounge persona behind him—he recently revived the original one-man show at Calgary's Sled Island Festival in June. But with Ylang Ylang and another new band, Astrology—with Marius Libman (AKA Copy) and drummer Mark Onyx—it's clear he's got other things in the fire. At this stage, Salas-Humara isn't attempting to do anything other than have fun playing with really good musicians.
"With Panther, it got really business-y and I started getting really negative. I kind of lost sight of what the point of making music was. I kind of had a freakout with the music business stuff—I don't know how to approach it right now. I just kind of want to be free from it."