Mates for Life | Music | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Mates for Life 

First Daze's indie pop was born from one deep friendship.

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  • Jono-Martinez

Although First Daze is now a successful indie pop rock trio, for years it was only a duo. Co-vocalists and guitarists Taylor Lines and Gui Peláez founded the band in 2013, and their deep friendship always will define the band's focus on harmony over technical skill. From sandwich shops to actual venues, this local act has seen and done a lot on their way to feeling and becoming legitimate.

Long before Benjamin Thornton joined as drummer in 2017, Lines and Peláez were roommates, bandmates, best friends—separate, but always connected. Both started playing guitar around the age of 10, but they didn't become close friends until the end of high school. Each was feeling the dog days of senior year, and became interested in forging stronger friendships. That's when they also realized they were both musicians. A partnership built on jams in Palaez's bedroom was formed, which has faced challenges that have since only proven their love for each other.

"I feel like we made a dedication to be really communicative and to not hold stuff in," Peláez says. "I lost a lot of friends growing up, and I'm really grateful for Taylor, and that our friendship has just gotten stronger. When you have a partnership like music that builds you up together, you realize there are a lot of things that go behind a good friendship. They do take work. You have to talk to each other."

"It's not like we don't bicker—we definitely do," Lines adds. "We bicker about the small things, and we are upfront with each other when it comes to the big things. You can fight all day when it comes to the capo, but you gotta come together when it comes to the overarching song you're trying to create."

The friends found an early start in coffee shops and restaurants. They braved an audition to play publically at the first-ever Even Stevens' opening, a low-stakes gig that would prove to be a staple venue early on. "You learn so quickly that nobody gives a shit—they're just trying to eat a sandwich," Lines says with a laugh. "But in your cute little 19-year old mind, it's so important."

"We were so ridiculous," Palaez says. "We'd spend hours deciding what to wear in front of people who were just trying to eat brunch."

Playing coffee shops and restaurants meant they learned quickly. A set at Even Stevens' brunch ran for two hours straight, and the revolving-door crowd required learning a bevy of covers. The two learned to lean on harmonizing to make their performances more interesting, and as they began to make music together, that tendency toward harmony bled in and became a cornerstone of their original sound. Their initial EP, On a Roll, feels most pronounced in its moments of harmony. The track "Fat Cats," with its lilting melody, is a great example of how the music is centered around Peláez' and Lines' equally-present voices.

It wasn't until they played Kilby Court that the band took off. "I remember telling Taylor that I would be happy with this short-lived career that we've had so far if we could just play Kilby," Peláez says. "I don't want anything more." Then one day in 2015, two years after they began, they did. It helped launch them into the local circuit: "Just getting a gig at Kilby like that does so much for helping local acts get together," Gui says. "They did that for us for sure. I'm so thankful."

Since then, the two have played almost every venue in town, recorded their music and have gained a drummer in Thornton, whose ability to interpret Peláez' and Lines' (self-admittedly vague) creative direction has made him an invaluable part of the band for three years now, certainly helping First Daze fill out their sound. "He plays drums based on what he's feeling and what the vibe of the song is, which is exactly what we needed," Peláez says.

The most important change might have occurred when the two ended a bad habit of apologizing onstage for minor flubs. Once they noticed how much they were doing it, and especially when they noticed how common apologizing was for women in general as well as in the scene is, they stopped. "I genuinely believe that the day we stopped apologizing was one of the bigger days," Peláez says. "We took ourselves more seriously. We acknowledged that this is what we want to do, and it changed the game. We started booking more stuff—we put more work in."

That work has resulted in important gigs, like a scheduled one at Publik Coffee Roasters, which, you guessed it, was canceled due to recent health concerns. The event, meant to raise endometriosis awareness, was set to benefit community member Sylvia Cardenas, who suffers from the disease.

"Her medical costs are ridiculous," Lines says. "No one should have an uphill battle to get the treatment they need for a disease that isn't taken seriously." Folks wanting to help out Cardenas can find her page on GoFundMe. You can also check out endo_SLC on Facebook for rescheduling information.

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About The Author

Parker S. Mortensen

Parker S. Mortensen

Mortensen is a non-binary writer and producer based in Salt Lake. Their writing chases a curiosity about the lived intersections of art, labor, technology and gender.

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