The Secretly Canadian Newsletter

Over the past three years, the Santa Barbarian comrades that make up Gardens & Villa — Chris Lynch, Adam Rasmussen, Levi Hayden, Shane McKillop, and Dusty Ineman — went from playing local bills to being veterans of the road. After releasing their self-titled debut on Secretly Canadian in 2011, they pushed their van’s odometer into the six-digit range, zigzagging North America and Europe with over 350 shows in just 2 years. Gardens & Villa emerged a wiser, crystallized version of themselves. Those experiences planted the seeds for the band’s new batch of cohesive, personal, and beautifully layered pop songs — homegrown in the confines of the band’s beachside practice space. When it came time to record, they searched out acclaimed producer Tim Goldsworthy (Cut Copy, DFA Records, LCD Soundsystem, Hercules & Love Affair) and these five surf-town natives found themselves traveling to the unlikely locale of Benton Harbor, MI (pop. 10,040) in January. There they landed at the Key Club, located deep in the recesses of a converted locksmith’s building where they would record what would become their second full-length, Dunes.

Gardens & Villa burrowed into the Key Club’s retro-themed studio and living space, only leaving the facility five times over the next month. The disconnect between Santa Barbara’s familiar sunny beaches and Michigan’s snow-covered lakeshore led to the group’s creative unraveling in the studio. The band lost track of the hours, days, and weeks as blinking analog machines captured the intense journey. In the process, Dunes was poured through Sly Stone’s original custom-built Flickinger recording console.

With just a week left before deadline, Gardens & Villa sought a brief refuge from the studio where their progress had stalled. They went on a trip, traversing winding roads past frozen tundra and barren trees and into the wilderness of the nearby state park’s tall dunes. The group climbed to the top and collapsed into a combination of sand and snow. Simultaneously reminded of home as well as their distance from it, their jaws dropped as they turned to see Lake Michigan’s majestic and surreal expanse stretching toward the horizon. Supported by Goldsworthy’s guidance, the band went back to the studio and ultimately emerged with a record beaming with dystopian energy, subconscious lyrics, and uncompromising sincerity. Lynch has seamlessly integrated his bansuri flutes and Rasmussen has fleshed out his looming synths alongside shades of ’80s cult films soundscapes that lurk just underneath the songs in an unnoticeable-yet-omnipresent fashion. Like the awe-inspiring clarity of sitting atop Michigan’s dunes, the band’s forthcoming record shares a clear and evocative vision of where Gardens & Villa’s members have traveled, what they’ve learned, and what lies ahead.



Colony Glen

Bullet Train



Purple Mesas



Thunder Glove

Love Theme