Artist Profile: San Cristobal evolves its sound

By Grace Hamilton, Daily Arts Writer
Published April 2, 2014

Success stories in the music business usually grow from modest roots — sometimes brilliance can be accidental. After all, the Ramones began as a garage band called The Tangerine Puppets. LSA freshman Jacob Sigman and lead singer of the 6-piece band San Cristobal, echoed this familiar pattern when he discussed how the band came together.

Jacob met Andrew Hiayama, the band’s cellist, at a summer camp, and through him, bassist Sam Collins. Having set his mind on putting together a “record debut type thing,” as Jacob described their first album, they began experimenting.

“I worked a lot with them. And then Cory, the drummer, is my cousin, who I met at a wedding this past year and found out he played the drums and was coming here,” Jacob said. “I went to high school with the guitarist and then met Andrew, the keyboard player, in the practice rooms in Markley.”

San Cristobal is continuously evolving. The band has realized its potential, revised its sights and shifted the direction of its music to mirror their refocusing.

Sigman describes the band’s earlier music as a “wall of sound.” The band’s first album, before it even had an official name and went simply by Jacob Sigman, was never actually intended to be played live.

“It was more folk-driven, kind of big and grandiose. There were so much going on,” Jacob said, citing Fleet Foxes, Sufjan Stevens and Sigur Ros as comparisons and inspirations.

On the other hand, the newer music feels spacious and more of combined effort among band members.

“These songs are coming to life as we play them, together, rather than just on a record,” Jacob said.

San Cristobal’s new music channels a slightly different set of artists, like The Beatles’ later material (the White Album), Harry Nilsson and Paul Simon.

It’s easy to hear these influences in San Cristobal, with as many as four vocalists on at a time in certain songs. They pull it off; the harmony holds, the volume remains under control and the lyrics come through.

It is the way that the very different pieces of the band (Andrew Solway on keys/vocals, Andrew Hiyama on cello, Hunter Viers on guitar, Cory Tripathy on drums, Sam Collins on bass, and Sigman on vocals) come together so fittingly that is so remarkably impressive for such a new group. It’s as if they’ve been doing this for years.

Jacob is equally modest speaking about his personal relationship with music and how it became a part of his life. He recalled his parents Beatles records, music he only came to fully appreciate later, and taking piano lessons, adding that, “a lot of people take piano lessons.” That being said, the natural talent in this group is unquestionable.

For now, the hope is to “keep living from show to show, and just play out as much as we can and write better songs,” Sigman said.

San Cristobal is planning on releasing a full-length album this summer and will be playing in the Diag at Spring Fest on April 10th. Their debut album, Virginia EP, is available for listening and download online.