Words: Jady Ojiri | Photos: Mark Galacgac
From front to back: Chloe Popa, Jessica Sayno and Sam Gorham.
A new girl group has taken the island by storm with its ethereal harmonies and youthful style. The trio is known none other than “Wesley,” and combines the artistic talents of Pow Wow Hawaii School of Music students Jessica Sayno (18), Chloe Popa (16), and Sam Gorham (16).
They all grew up with a love for music that was mainly instilled in them through their parents. Their childhood memories are all overlapped with different music genres that their parents would play for them, including classical, rock and reggae. From there, they each picked up instruments here and there and began to find an extremely deep passion for music.
Through the Pow Wow Hawaii School of Music, Chloe, Jessica, and Sam were all able to bond and create a close-knit friendship with one another. Interestingly, the band has only been together for about seven months so far.
“What inspired us to create a band? Literally nothing. One day, we needed to perform for Art and Flea through Pow Wow,” Sam stated. “So, we were just like, ‘Hey, why don’t we do a song together?” We never sat down and said that ‘This needs to happen.’ So when people started coming up to us and asking about when our next performance would be together, we felt like we were deceiving people.”
Together, they’ve been able to create an unique sound that they can’t quite explain. “Honestly, we have a lot of musical influences, but it’s kind of original. We all have different music tastes, so it’s like a mashup of everything we love as artists. At the time being, it’s a hybrid of R&B and alternative music,” Sam described.
“Yeah, it’s really just a mixture of little pieces of each of us. There’s not really any sole genre that can describe it. We are actually so afraid of ‘genrelizing’ ourselves,” Chloe said.
The songs “Hey Mami” by Sylvan Esso and “Crave You” by the Flight Facilities, are some of their most frequently played songs. However, their songwriting abilities have enabled them to create a few original works of their own.
“We have one song that’s finished. It’s called ‘Rainbow,’” Chloe mentioned. “I wrote it in a bathroom at 2 am… It’s about the thought process during that time.”
Each of them brings a different tone to the group’s sound and their different personalities compliment each other very well. When asked to describe her bandmates Jessica explained, “Chloe is the positivity of the band. She’s the youngest, but I’ve never felt an age difference. If anything goes wrong, she’ll be the one to say something like, “‘It’s cool! It’s gouda, guys.’”
Then, there’s Sam. “She’s the most chill out of all of us, but she’s also the cockiest.”
“It’s true,” Sam added. “I mean… I’m not cocky, but I’m confident. I’m very comfortable on stage,” she clarified.
“And Jess is like our team mom, really,” Chloe chimed in.
The three of them form a perfect balance of everything a band really needs: authenticity, confidence, passion, and talent. So far, they’ve performed about eight times in the past few months. You may have seen them sparking the attention of patrons at the Honolulu Night Market, Art + Flea, Shirokiya Village Walk and Urban Outfitters.
Along the way, they have encountered a few bumps along the road, but it has made their connection with one another ten times stronger.
“Creating music is one of the most raw experiences. You’re putting your feelings out into the world. We are three different people with three different styles. Sometimes we love each other and sometimes we want to kill each other, but you’re never really perfect as a group. It has honestly been the most stressful time of my life, but also the highlight,” Sam expressed.
Although they don’t quite know how far they are going to take their music as a group, they are positive that they want to remain close friends and to keep producing as much music as they can.
When asked to describe their experiences as a band, Jessica stated, “It was a friends-first relationship. The things we have been able to experience not only as friends, but also as a band has been so cool. With everything going on with school and growing up… It’s complicated. Right now we are just really trying to figure everything out and whether or not we are going to make this [Wesley] a serious project.”
“Even if we don’t end up making Wesley [a serious project], I just hope that we each are able to keep creating music through our passion for it,” Chloe said. “For someone to tell us that our music affected them in some way by saying, ‘Oh, I listen to your song in the morning,’ like, that’s so cool. In the end, I hope that in the future the three of us are all doing something we love… And getting paid for it would be a really cool bonus.”
Currently, their goal is to create an EP composed of some of their original songs for Pow Wow next year. They couldn’t help but gush about how surreal everything has been.
“You don’t usually see a group of girls playing instruments [and] who are still pretty young have a big effect on someone. For us to be in the position of musicians that have affected us would be absolutely amazing,” Jessica revealed.
Chloe tried to sum up their infatuation with music by saying, “I associate the best times with songs. It’s kind of like explaining love to somebody. You can’t really explain it. Music allows you to make these personal connections with people, and it’s so difficult, but in the end, it’s so worth it.”
These girls are expanding their audience of listeners everyday and they have definitely made a lasting impact on Hawaii’s music community. Before long, “Wesley” will surely be a name that everyone knows and loves.
To stay up-to-date on Wesley’s whereabouts, visit their Instagram at @wesley.music.