From producing music entirely from the bounds of their bedroom walls in Portland, Ore. to reaching listeners around the world, indie pop duo One11Twenty sets no limits on their creativity. Whether influence comes directly from their hometown, musical inspirations or personal circumstances, experimentation is always at the heart of their work.
“Every part of our lives definitely has an influence on our music,” said vocalist Tim Jordan, half of One11Twenty.
What started as a five-member band they formed in high school dwindled down to two fervent, talented artists — 2020 graduates Kyle DelFatti and Jordan — ready to resume their craft and pursue music wholeheartedly.
Together, the duo has achieved a musical synergy unlike any other, utilizing their creative minds, technical expertise and lyrical talents to create sounds that cross genres and conventions. Their yin-and-yang dynamic allows them to feature each of their greatest strengths in their music; DelFatti is the architect of One11Twenty’s sound, while Jordan is the mastermind behind their lyrics.
Their rising success, though, is a result of years of diligent practice.
After playing the guitar and bass for nearly 15 years (among other instruments such as drums, piano, French horn, trombone, trumpet, violin and synthesizers), it’s evident how DelFatti developed his keen ear and instrumental versatility.
“I’ll get pieces of instrumental gear passed down that I can then use, and each piece that you acquire influences the sound of what you do,” DelFatti said.
He even has a 1983 Panasonic Ramsa Mixing board, gifted to him by his guitar teacher.
For Jordan, writing music initially came from his love of novels and his desire to share his voice through stories and poems as a kid. In what he calls “a roundabout way,” his childhood aspirations are now coming true through the lyrics and melodies he’s been creating over the last few years for One11Twenty.
“It wasn’t until senior year of high school when Kyle and I started writing songs that I was like, ‘Hey, I should start learning instruments too and get into music and learn how to sing,’” Jordan said.
Working in both of their expertises, Delfatti and Jordan were in the same a cappella choir in high school, where their musical partnership and friendship was set in motion.
“I had a bunch of songs and Tim had a bunch of poems, and he got his poems in my songs and I got my songs in his poems,” DelFatti said.
DelFatti draws inspiration from a variety of producers ranging from Jack Antonoff to Tyler Joseph to LOOK MUM NO COMPUTER and Daft Punk.
“I’ve always liked music that strikes this certain emotional chord with my life where I can feel like I’m framing my life with the song that I’m listening to,” DelFatti said.
When it comes to songwriting and wordplay, Jordan pulls a lot of influence from the hip-hop genre. Along with MF Doom, Kid Cudi and Jurassic Five, he also takes inspiration from classic lyricists such as Bob Dylan, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt.
How the two came up with the band name, One11Twenty, was through a particularly nostalgic and rewarding moment in any artists’ life — a paycheck. Split between the five band members at the time who’d played a good amount of shows together, including their high school prom, their $556 cash earnings came out to $111.20 (One-Eleven-Twenty) when distributed among them.
Thus, when DelFatti and Jordan joined together to focus on music together, their name became One11Twenty.
When it came time to go to college, DelFatti attended Seattle University for his first two years, while Jordan took a gap year before attending Emerson College.
“We were always writing songs throughout that time, we’d put out a lot of music,” DelFatti said. “But I never [gave] myself permission to call myself a musician. And I was just really unhappy.”
After personal circumstances, DelFatti was in search of a new direction.
“Choosing to go to USC was taking the leap of faith to do music,” DelFatti said. “I was an electrical engineer at Seattle University.”
Once DelFatti transferred to USC, he was on his way to new beginnings and devoted his entire time to music.
“I have nothing but positive things to say about the music program at USC,” DelFatti said. “There [was] a bunch of us in the program that just clumped around each other … and started working on each other’s projects.”
Delfatti credits the Trojan network for providing him with incredible resources, professors and peers that have had a significant influence and impact on his music today.
Their videographer, USC alumnus Nick Smiley, met DelFatti in Fall 2017 but didn’t officially begin working on creative projects together until 2018. Smiley, who shot and directed their “Famous Kids” music video, a song off of their 2020 album “Better Days,” acknowledges the inventiveness and devotion that the duo pours into their music.
“There are ways that we’re experimenting and kind of pushing what we can do,” Jordan said.
When tinkering with new soundscapes for One11Twenty, DelFatti said, “it feels like lightning in a bottle.” And despite gaining more mastery over the years, he still feels that there’s some trial and error that comes along with the process.
“I still feel like there’s this blindness,” DelFatti said. “You only know something that’s cool when you come across it and it sounds cool.”
Songs are often written and rewritten anywhere from hours to days long before they’re at the ready stage for a release.
“Sometimes we work on a song for more than a year before it comes out,” Jordan said. “And sometimes during that process, we’ll write like five or six songs that come out before that song comes out.”
Such has been the case while preparing for their newest album release, “Spaceship Heartbreak.” The pair has been dropping consistent singles since mid-January — “Fantasy,” “No Peace” and out this Friday “Come back to Love” — with no set release date for the album yet.
“I’ve gotten to hear some of the music, and it’s really good and really exciting,” Smiley said. “Kyle’s getting a lot more into working with analog synthesizers and diving into music [in] that way so that’s been really cool to observe.”
By the sound of their music, it’s hard to imagine that most of One11Twenty’s work has come from creating all their sounds in house with their own instruments, practicing and learning software from their own bedrooms.
“I think they’ve always been musically adventurous, and I think Tim’s lyricism too is a big part of what makes the music really special,” Smiley said. “He has a very unique way of writing songs and writing lyrics.”
Though the album is not a direct analogy to quarantine itself, DelFatti noted that a lot of the themes have to do with what they’ve been going through during quarantine, graduating college and becoming young adults.
“A lot of it is just dealing with loneliness and contextualizing heartbreak,” DelFatti said — something many can relate to, especially as we’ve surpassed the one-year anniversary of the pandemic.
In coming back to the Portland metropolitan area after graduating college, One11Twenty hopes to go on tour when the world is ready. For now, they’re focusing on building a creative atmosphere with fellow Los Angeles friends and artists, honing in on their talents and getting “as good as possible” during this next chapter of their music and lives.