BY ARCHER MICHAELS
“Hey!” frontman Tyler Dawn yells as he sits cross-legged with a vintage tobacco-sunburst Stratocaster flipped upside down in his hands—without a lefty guitar in sight, local band The Ajimas have to make do with what they have. “Let’s go! Let’s get to work!”
The members of The Ajimas begin their rehearsal in their soundproof living room, each homemade panel boasting drawings and graphic graffiti done by band members and close friends. The smell of fried vegetables and fresh rice fills the air as they begin to work on their latest song, “The French Connection.”
The Ajimas are a dedicated five-piece band with a strong passion for music. Each member brings a unique style to the music that gives it some extra flare.
Dawn is an atypical front man. Though his looks may be deceiving, the short, portly singer boasts loads of charisma and stage presence—Dawn is heavily influenced by the music of David Bowie, James Brown and Cage the Elephant frontman Matt Shultz.
According to drummer Steven Olivares, his own skill as a drummer significantly improved after he started to play for The Ajimas. His hard work shows in his smooth, but invasive drumming style. The band jokes that Olivares breaks more sticks than any other drummer they know. Guitarist Simon Stewart is a longtime friend of Dawn, so he was brought into the fold to fill out the sound and add a cutting lead guitar. Stewart’s playing can range from the ultra-complicated soloing to the smoothest rhythmic part. Bassist Emily Muller-Foster came from the Shigs, a now-defunct all-girls rock band.
“When I first joined, everything was new to me,” Muller-Foster says about her integration into the band. “I’ve played upright bass through school and had a bit of experience in other bands playing electric. Coming into this was like a different world, and it’s amazing.”
Austin Perkins complements the band’s sound by adding very warm, ‘60s-esque rhythm section with his hollow-body guitar. His height and built figure make him an imposing character, but his playing lets a lot of his personality through. Both he and his sound are unique, adding to the band’s overall sound and dedication.
“If I don’t play music for any kind of period of time, I go insane!” the anguished rhythm guitarist says. “Like, ‘Oh God, I gotta do something!’”
Three of the band’s songs are currently available on Spotify. Dawn’s mixing skills give The Ajimas a genuinely homegrown feeling—the sound isn’t overbearing, but it is intricate.
“Our goal is to keep everything DIY and kind of stray away from the label stereotypes,” Dawn says about their home recording studio. “We strive for vibe over everything else.”
Stewarts and Perkins switching off between rhythm and lead parts give the band an original style. The two guitarists can make a sound that is both complicated and interesting, yet very accessible and catchy.
The band was born from the ashes of notable Monterey Peninsula Slack, which included Dawn on vocals and Perkins on bass with Carmel High alumnus Nigel Hardy on guitar and Patrick Murphy on drums. When Slack broke up, Perkins and Dawn came together to form a new project. After finding Stewart, Olivares and Muller-Foster, the band’s line-up was official.
The Ajimas have an instantly recognizable sound that plays well live, matching the sound in their recording. It’s a warm but somewhat dark tone that gives hints of the band’s inspirations.
Collectively, the band cites The Beatles, The Smiths and The Strokes as bases for the sound they’ve created, while also drawing from contemporary artist like The Growlers and Mac DeMarco
The tracks “909” and “Let Me Down” have accompanying music videos on the band’s YouTube channel, “The Ajimas.”
The video for “Let Me Down” showcases the band’s multi-purpose house, splicing scenes of them practicing with recordings from the many house parties they play in the packed Marina music den.
“It’s not about the music anymore, it’s about the partying,” Stewart jokes about the lifestyle that’s presented in the video. “Our souls are dead.”
The Ajimas have plans for many more releases with a show planned for the near future.