By Jose Mujica
May 7, 2019
Musical duo Caelan & Ike’s debut EP aptly named Honey!, is a brief and tantalizing taste of alternative R&B that spawned in Charlotte. The singer and producer duo, both students at UNC Charlotte, serendipitously crossed paths working together at an off-campus leasing office. They quickly bonded over their shared love of music, exchanging and discussing favorite artists, projects and influences. As the friendship grew, Ike Byers, the producer of the duo, received a recording of Caelan Gonzalez singing “U Got It Bad” by Usher. Upon hearing the dulcet tones of Caelan’s voice, Ike was impressed and the pair began to take their casual interest in making music together much more seriously.
The composition of these tracks isn’t just divinely manifest however. Both Caelan and Ike began their musical careers early. Caelan’s parents put him in piano lessons at 7 years old while Ike began his musical journey by experimenting on guitar and GarageBand in middle school. Naturally their passions developed as Caelan discovered his talent for singing while Ike fell in love with music production, Honey! is the outcome of honing their respective crafts.
In Honey!, the duo’s debut EP, the chemistry between the two is evident as Caelan croons about loss and love over Ike’s earworm basslines and melodies. When asked what genre they consider their work, they eschew any simple labels. “I don’t know what genre we would fall under honestly. Genres aren’t really something we think about. That’s an award show thing,” Caelan explains. “If you listen to Honey!, you won’t find a genre.” Ike concurs, “I personally have a hard time describing our music when people ask, just because the whole process has been one of experimenting with our sound and figuring out what works best for us.” Yet despite the experimental and undefined aspects of their music, there’s a sense of familiarity and comfort that accompanies it. Even at first listen, their sound is familiar, and you are immediately charmed by the amalgamation.
While Caelan & Ike are admittedly still discovering their own distinct sound, Honey! is an impressive first step towards establishing the duo. The pair’s influences range from Cautious Clay to Childish Gambino and one can certainly see peeks through their tunes.
The care put into this project is clear, as it avoids the pitfalls typical of many debuts that attempt to do too much too quickly, or are too ambitious in scope. Honey! is straightforward and sweet, scratching an itch you may not have known you had. The production is dynamic but allows the vocals to breathe. A pleasant surprise for anyone who may stumble across it, Honey! is not only a feel-good and auspicious EP, but a promising launch for a Charlotte duo.