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“We Had to Adapt”: How California Band Inner Wave Is Tackling Time During COVID-19

“As the reality of tour and rehearsals being postponed set in indefinitely, we had to begin to accommodate a new lifestyle.”

This is a guest editorial by Elijah Trujillo from the California band Inner Wave. You can follow the group on Instagram here

On Thursday, March 11, we saw Tame Impala perform live at The Forum in our hometown of Los Angeles. We were on such a high from the show and blown away by their production. We all have always looked up to the Tame Impala team for their songwriting, musicianship, sonic atmosphere, and especially in their live performances.

We were ready to take that energy and put it into everything we were working on at the time. 

One day later, on March 12, Inner Wave had our last rehearsal for the indefinite future. 

Let’s go back. In September 2019, we began to write our most recent EP, wyd, which was the beginning of our momentum. At the time, we were up against a strict deadline to finish the EP, so we took a new approach to writing. 

Several of our group members would meet up at our recording studio, The Swamp, every day, and create the foundation of a new song. Not all of them were good, but it got us in the groove and allowed us to explore all the new synths we got and come up with some cool sounds.

Elijah Trujillo

Elijah Trujillo

In a few months, we ended up with 20-something demos, including a few old songs that we reworked. Eventually, we filtered them down to six solid songs that we felt were the best fit for the ep. “Estrella” and “Schemin” were both written entirely by lead vocalist and guitarist Pablo Sotelo. The demo for “Poligamia” was written by Pablo originally in 2014, but he reworked it with new synths and added my live trumpet on it.

“Cold Feet” and “50” were both written by Pablo, our bassist, and vocalist Jean Pierre Narvaez and myself, our guitarist and keyboard player. I laid down chords as a foundation, and they added the drums, bass, and everything else on top. “The Beginning” was also a demo originally written by Pablo in 2014, which was brought back to be reworked. Keyboardist Chris Runners, Jean Pierre, and I were brought in to help build the second half of the song. Once all the instrumentation was pretty well fleshed out, drummer Luis Portillo came in to lay down live drums on “Poligamia,” “Cold Feet,” “50,” and “The Beginning.”

At this point, the creative, songwriting portion of the EP was complete, and it was time to mix and master the project. Pablo worked alongside our live sound engineer Jose Cruz for hours on end, polishing up the mixes to get them to sound the best they could. Several late nights and cases of Red Bull later, the EP was finished within our deadline. Sometimes the pressure inspires excellent, new ideas.

With the music finished, we had the foundation to roll out the rest of the release. Chris worked with Pablo to create the visual universe for the music to live in. The vibe of wyd was going to be one of nighttime, mysterious, retro-futuristic world to juxtapose the daytime, happier feel of our last EP, wya.

Inner Wave

Inner Wave

Simultaneously, our team was working hard to prepare for a tour, which was slated to begin with Coachella in April. We were so pumped to be playing Coachella for the first time. It was an opportunity we all had dreamed of for years, and it was coming true. 

We had a few tours under our belts, so we were more comfortable and prepared for the road for over a month. We had assembled a crew that worked amazingly together and covered all departments. We began rehearsing every day to make sure the performance was to a T.



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Things were moving along smoothly until the day after that magical Tame Impala concert. The state of California issued stay at home orders. Suddenly, our high was gone. First, it seemed like it would only be temporary, but then the stay at home orders were extended—and again. Soon enough, all that momentum leading up to the tour hit a brick wall. We were left without the one thing that meant the most to all of us: Live performance.

To make matters worse, we had no idea when the world would get back on track. Three months later, we still don’t. We had to adapt.

As the reality of tour and rehearsals being postponed set in indefinitely, we had to begin to accommodate a new lifestyle. As with everyone else in the world, we had to find other ways to keep ourselves sane and healthy. 

Technology is a blessing during this time because we get to hang out through Zoom calls and still get to see each others’ faces. But there’s nothing like sharing the company of your best friends doing what y’all love the most.

Each member of our group has evolved over the past three months, dealing with this weird time in history in positive ways. Luis has been working at his family’s restaurant, Los Chilaquiles, in Torrance, CA, doing takeout. He has been working hard every day to help keep his family business afloat, adapting to new laws in the food industry, and continuing to serve delicious food in the safest way. When he’s not working, he’s at home in his drum booth, cookin’ up the most fire beats.

Chris Runners, Luis Portillo

Chris Runners, Luis Portillo

Chris has been polishing up his culinary skills and cooking up the most delicious meals in his kitchen at home. I see pictures every day, and I can taste it through the phone. Anyone would be lucky to be stuck with him in quarantine. Chris is also utilizing this time to clean up his solo music project, which he has been working on for some time now.

Jean Pierre Narvaez is also working on a solo music project, and we are all excited for both of them to come out. He now has the time to get it to sound the way he wants. Jean Pierre is also offering music lessons on bass and piano during this time. He provides lessons not only in person but also online to keep a safe distance for the comfort of others.

Pablo is exploring other platforms of music he has always been passionate about. He recently released a two-song EP on Bandcamp named MPC under Sablo Potelo. All proceeds from purchases on these tracks are being donated to DirectRelief to help give resources to those fighting the pandemic.

Pablo Sotelo

Pablo Sotelo

And myself? I have been writing music and practicing another passion of mine: carpentry. I’ve been building cabinets, beds, desks, fences, sheds, as well as doing handyman work under Eli’s Custom Builds. 

Again, technology has allowed us to explore other outlets during this pandemic that helps us get through it a little easier. We’ve been using Ableton Splice to send projects back and forth to each other so we can still write songs together from the safety of each of our homes. It’s not ideal, but it’s a fun way to make the best with what we have.

Life is full of surprises and its human nature to adapt and thrive, so we all must all continue to do precisely that. Even though some days can be a black hole of existential thoughts that whirlwind into nothingness and normality seems but a lifetime away, we learned to find what else keeps us going besides what we love most, and so can anyone.

We hope y’all can take advantage of your time at home to explore that hobby you always wanted to pick up. 

Grab your guitar and learn that one song you always wanted to play. Go outside and take walks every day, build up your immune system. Catch up on your favorite shows. Cook your favorite meals. 

We are all in this together and share the same emotions. It’s inevitable to want to just get through this and eventually adapt to a new normal. Until then, we’ll keep doing our thing if y’all keep doing yours. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive, friends.



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