Two years ago, bassist Melanie Sarria and guitarist Sebastian Hidalgo were having a low-key jam while an app on an iPad provided the drumbeats.
"It was so DIY. Our first recordings were extremely lo-fi," Sarria says.
But they couldn't stop themselves. There was something to the blissful dream-pop they were creating.
Hidalgo played that first demo for Mike Diaz — who under the moniker Millionyoung has found substantial chillwave acclaim — looking for nothing more than a professional opinion. Were they crazy to think something special was brewing?
Excited by what he heard, Diaz asked if he could join the project. When they ran into drummer John Olin, who had recently moved back to Miami from New York, they had themselves a band.
"It was a slow process," Hidalgo admits. "It wasn't until 2019 when we played our first shows."
Airhockey thought 2020 could be its big year. But as it has for everyone else, coronavirus laid waste to that vision.
"We were going to take a little break to get ready to release an EP," Diaz says. "We were planning to play a lot of shows to promote it. Now we're just trying to up our internet presence."
That increased internet presence commences with the release of Airhockey's new single, which bears a title we all can relate to: "Just Not Fair."
The track was born out of a one-minute snippet of bedroom pop Diaz created and handed off to Hidalgo, who added some texture. Over the course of a year, as Hidalgo continued to tweak the embryonic recording, "Just Not Fair" became a highlight during the band's live shows. Audience members often told the group it was their favorite cut. It seemed like an excellent candidate to be the basis of the band's first music video, which premieres exclusively here at New Times.
"I wanted to take everyone on a journey of one of our shows. I thought that would be a good introduction to the band," explains Sarria, who directed the video. "We were going on our first road trip to play at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota. I thought I'd be like a band mom and film every moment. I tried to put it in order from day to night, going from practice to the show, and put together a nice memory."
To give the video a home-movie feel, Sarria shot it with a vintage Sony Hi8 Handycam.
"They don't make the power source for it anymore," she says. "To get the footage, I had to plug the Hi8 camera into a slightly newer camera and then had to plug that into a laptop."
The resulting video is liable to make the viewer feel overwhelmed by nostalgia — not only for old technology but also for the not-too-distant past when a band could play a show for an actual audience.
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"Soon as it's safe to go outside, we want to play more shows," Hidalgo says.
He describes Airhockey's live show as a mix of live music with electronics.
"We combine traditional instruments with loops. Everyone has an electronic side. We're not a huge, over-the-top live band, but we're not too mellow," Hidalgo says. "You can nod your head to us, but you're not going to be checking your watch."
"We've had some very polite moshing," Diaz adds. "Nothing too crazy. Maybe like a shoulder bump."