Halfway through my interview with Playyard Thing 1 and Thing 2, also known as Michael Sack and Henry Morris, I realized I messed up. The usual voice memo would be useless if I wanted any possibility of discerning their quotes. Henry and Michael have the floppy brown hair and aloof playfulness that would make Simon Cowell and fifteen year old girls swoon with prospection. The guys laughed over my explanatory apologies as the robotic “this meeting is being recorded” interrupted a thought. Their carbon copy effect is not news to them.
Although they grew up in revolving LA circles, Sack and Morris didn’t officially know each other until they signed up to be freshman roommates at UCSB. Since then, it’s been a bromance for the ages. “We kind of realized we were the same exact people,” Henry says, “We really just became best friends and did music on the side.”
Sack and Morris formed the duo Playyard and have become somewhat of a UCSB treasure. Morris comes from a classically trained jazz oriented background, while Sack’s guitar and piano style leans more toward melodic pop. Their talents come together for a youthful spin on neo-soul pop.
The production is their strength. The clean cuts of the tracks convey the discipline of the pair’s musical background, while still retaining a sense of improvisation reminiscent of Tom Misch’s airy and sensitive beats. With lyrics centered around the mixed messages of college-aged relationships, there’s no doubt that Playyard’s music will only improve with life experience. Yet, their hits have an undeniable infectious draw that will leave both doe-eyed Santa Barbara freshmen and music snobs coming back for more.
Coming out of the pandemic, the boys are mainly excited to start playing live shows again. “That’s where all the fun comes in,” Michael says. They talk about their plans for Downtown LA events, new collabs, and a possible college-tour with an unpretentious enthusiasm reserved for up and coming talent.
Their new single, “Close” dropped in June. The brooding lyrics are a reflection on the realities of analyzing a past relationship, but the tone of the single is far from simpy. “Close” represents Playyard’s increasing experimentation with more upbeat dance music. The juxtaposition of the feel-good production and moody lyrics elevate the track above your average summer pop drop. It’s the model soundtrack for the welcome-back-to-life summer gathering. Just don’t be too jealous that the gathering isn’t a Santa Barbara kickback headlined by the Princes of Playyard.