Getting Honest with Karen Moreno of Trends

Words by Miró Justad
Photo by Cat White

Karen Moreno, of Los Angeles-based alternative rock group Trends, has had a lot to celebrate recently. Trends‘ full length album Palettes is coming in 2020, and their single “Branches” dropped earlier this fall. Their music is deeply emotional but accessible at the same time, melding lo-fi sounds of dreamy backing vocals layered beneath direct and genuine lead vocals, backed by creative linear drum progressions.

Moreno, the rhythmic backbone of the project, began drumming when she was 14 years old when playing on her father’s cousin’s DW kit. Before this fateful encounter with the drums, her interest in music was piqued by a lonely keyboard. 

“My mom is a doctor so she was busy most of the time. It was always a dream of hers to play an instrument. She bought a keyboard but never got around to learning it because of her demanding job. Seeing the keyboard in the corner made me curious about music,” she recalls,

“Branches” was an introspective single. Its black-and-white animated music video (animated by Jeremie Carreon and Eileen Alexandra) debuted via Billboard this past fall — appropriate, given that it feels like the beginning of something new for Trends. The band, after debating different ideas, found a single concept for the unique video that formulated into the visual story of the song. 

“The story behind “Branches” is about coming to terms with the idea that growth sometimes means leaving people behind, and being left behind by others. The experiences and relationships we have shape us, and not everything or everyone is there to stay. It’s okay to let go of things and still remain grateful for the experiences we share together. We branch out, but the tree trunk is always there,” she explains.

“During the writing of “Branches”, I was definitely in a transitional period. I had just finished college and I didn’t really know what I wanted for my music life yet, or whether or not I was going to stay in the U.S. There was a lot of uncertainty and I just remember writing the first part of the song in a lockout in Vernon with the band. It was such a fun experience.”

Moreno is currently inspired by the diversity of her home Los Angeles, a city where so many wonderful bands like Trends continue to emerge from. “The beautiful thing about Los Angeles,” she says, “is that there’s people from all over the world coexisting and learning from each other. To me, it’s an example of what the world could be like… Specific to the band, I think LA provides the perfect place to be inspired by each other’s cultures and experiences. “ 

Moreno describes the band’s creative process as being “pretty democratic and very much collaborative” while working on the upcoming album Palettes.

The writing process for Palettes has been an immersion into endless possibilities. From the beginning, we were all writing and creating from an honest place. We didn’t really take into consideration what genre we wanted to fit into, or how this collection of songs would come together as a whole. It was about letting our creativity just be. Everyone was involved in the writing and no one was confined to creating music on their specific instrument. I was able to write on the bass, I sang, and sometimes I wrote the drum beat after the entire song was written. 

Moreno owes much of her ability to her teacher, Tony Inzalaco. “He taught me more than he will ever know and I am beyond grateful for what he did for me,” she says.

Music has changed my life for the better and I believe in the power that it holds. It can save people from whatever situation they might be in and I couldn’t be happier to have this magnificent privilege to share our music with everybody. I am finding it difficult to wrap this up without sounding really corny, but I’ll just go with it. I hope Palettes can bring you closer to your dreams. I hope you can use this record to propel you forward with an open heart.

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