Through the eager chatter at a bar venue, you hear the muted opening notes of a piano ballad. The melody is soon joined by a plaintive voice, which sings alone for only a few moments before being joined by three more, swelling into an ocean of sound that fills the room. The chatter dies as the audience leans into a sound that is lush, rustic, and new—entranced by four personalities harmonizing as artists, singers and good friends. Welcome to SnugHouse.
The Portland, Maine-based indie-folk band’s latest EP, Like Water, is the first step in bringing this communal creativity to the studio. It is the opening salvo in a journey of togetherness in song and soul.
“We share an emotional quality that resonates beyond instrumental skills,” says SnugHouse member Nikhil Dasgupta. Alex Millan adds: “There is a mutual trust and respect within the band. We can be who we are—we can be vulnerable, serious, and playful together. That shows in the music.”
In addition to Nikhil and Alex, SnugHouse is Rosie Borden, Laura Pauline and Sam Kyzivat. In the studio and on stage, the quintet explores its full expanse of influences which includes indie-folk, bucolic acoustic balladeering, frisky soulful pop, and delicately textured indie rock. This eclectic palette is masterfully tied together by a sweet sincerity captured in emotionally direct lyrics, stunning four-part harmonies, and profound interpersonal bonds that shine through onstage and in recordings. SnugHouse tracks fit comfortably alongside songs by Darlingside, The Ghost of Paul Revere, and The Head and the Heart.
- Nat Newman, Rawckus Magazine
- Aimsel Ponti, Portland Press Herald
- Bree Candland, What Bree Sees (A live music blog)
The band name is a tip of the hat to the beloved local watering hole, The Snug, conveniently located below Nikhil’s apartment where he hosted countless formative rehearsals. Since forming in the fall of 2017, the quintet has made profound headway in the local scene. In a short time, SnugHouse went from house shows to bar residencies, to regular appearances at some of Portland’s biggest local music venues. To date, SnugHouse has made appearances on Portland’s two biggest televised music programs, and garnered regular radio airplay on all local stations, most notably 98.9 WCLZ. In addition, CLZ has featured SnugHouse on their station stage at Portland’s biggest summer food and culture festival, Old Port Fest.
Each member of SnugHouse has a well-developed artistic identity and sympathetic spirit for bringing out the best in the others’ songs and performances. Alex reveals: “I enjoy writing snarky songs. Rosie’s songs are playful, and Nikhil’s songs have a longing—they’re very heartfelt.” Laura is known for reimagined left-field cover songs, like a smoldering version of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” that have become live-performance standouts
Like Water represents a new era of fertile creativity for SnugHouse. The group came together as mutual admirers, playing at the Dogfish Bar’s weekly acoustic open mic. In an impulsive moment of egoless creativity one night, Nikhil, Alex, Rosie, and Laura found themselves behind the mic for an impromptu performance of Nikhil’s song “I Couldn’t Be,” the opening track of SnugHouse’s self-titled EP, released in the spring of 2017. A few months later, Sam Kyzivat was added to the line up, expanding the band’s sonic and textural pallet.
The title, Like Water, was pinched from a lyric from the song “A Long Walk Home.” Here, Nikhil sings: I’m still out there digging holes, searching for something // but, like water, you come flowing right back in. He explains: “The title is about the things you can’t run away from. This is a subject all of the songs touch on in one way or another. As in that lyric, the flow of water is something you can’t control, and has a sense of inevitability about it.”
Other standouts on the four-song EP include “Firefly” and “Glass.” SnugHouse gets frisky on “Firefly” with a sensual soul-pop jam built around an invigoratingly funky Rhodes motif. Slyly slipped into the song’s sweet swagger is a lyric on the loneliness of hookup culture and unrequited love. The song’s video, however, captures the music’s exuberant spirit, showing the band in a lighthearted, playful mode. In contrast, “Glass” is a stately piano ballad recorded live with gorgeous harmony interplay, warm acoustic instrumentation, and raw emotionality. “That song laments how, as you get older, you tend to fall for people and less and less,” shares Nikhil, who was the primary songwriter and creative voice behind this EP. It was produced by Jonathan Wyman of the Halo Studio, and mastered by Adam Ayan of Gateway Mastering.
Up next, SnugHouse will further explore its artistic connections with plans to work toward a full-length album that showcases songwriting contributions from all band members. The band will also continue to spread joy with its intimately inviting live shows. Nikhil says: “When we play live, there are those rare moments where everyone in the venue is silent - they’re here to listen to the songs, and that is so validating.” Laura concludes, recalling a meaningful moment during a live show in which an audience member blurted out “Damn, that’s a song!” She says: “In that moment it felt like we could really do this.”