The spark wasn’t a romantic one, but they became friends and then collaborators. Through their band corner club, they released their first full EP, in the rearview mirror, in October.
Rather than focusing on what can be marketed best, or what will get the highest streaming numbers, they say they create music that meets their own high standards for what they think music should be. “We’re very happy about the result of this creative process,” Zhang says.
Du and Zhang went from a capella members to a musical duo while still at Princeton. Sometimes VTone would be asked to a do a performance, but not everyone could go, so the two would perform together on behalf of the group. And while neither one was a music major, they both immersed themselves in music while at Princeton — through VTone, of course, but also for Zhang through a class in experimental music and for Du through thinking about and experiencing sound in new ways. “I saw some really interesting installations really intertwining concepts that we try to weave into some of our music,” she says.
When Zhang graduated, he moved to New York City for his first job. When Du figured out she was going to be working there after her graduation, too, she suggested — half jokingly, half not — that they keep going with their music.
“We ended up living seven blocks away from each other,” she says. “I’d walk over to Mike’s, we would get $1 pizza, and we would go upstairs and jam out.”
Thus corner club was born. They released their first EP, of just a few songs, in 2021, and then the full EP in the rearview mirror in October. Since forming their band, they also moved to San Francisco, where they both have day jobs in tech and live in a warehouse-style building with five other Princeton alumni, with enough space left over for performing and recording.
The two say most people describe their music as indie pop or indie folk, but to them, they’re just making what they would want to listen to. in the rearview mirror was heavily influenced by the pandemic, the experiences of losing loved ones, relationships won and lost, and also their decision to leave the East Coast, where they both grew up, and head west to try something new.
One song, titled “whenever you’re ready,” is a lighthearted piece about hoping for an ex’s new relationship to be less than successful. For “when i die,” the pair made a video of their friends and loved ones lip synching over the lyrics, which they filmed while they were in the process of moving.
“These songs feel true to our experiences in terms of covering [that] span of years,” Zhang said. “At the same time, we as people also felt like we’ve grown quite a bit from those experiences.”
They both see releasing in the rearview mirror as an achievement — and a relief, because they now have time to start working on new music. They’re also reworking pieces of songs they started creating in 2020. “This is the stage that is definitely most exciting and most true to us: jamming out and making music,” Zhang said.