Houses' Dexter Tortoriello and Megan Messina hail from Chicago, but the roots of their dreamy electro-pop can be traced back to a potent three-month stay in Hawaii.
Tortoriello played in metal and noise bands during his teens in suburban Illinois, while he also battled addictions to crack and heroin. He spent much of that time in rehab and halfway houses, and in 2006 Tortoriello quit Columbia College to stay at a rehab facility in California. He ended up following Jesse Logan, one of his counselors, to Salt Lake City; while helping Logan open his own halfway house, Tortoriello also got musical advice from him. Around this time, he began a solo project called Hospital Tapes. Tortoriello returned to Illinois in 2009 and got a job at a local Apple store, where he met Messina, one of his coworkers. The pair struck up a relationship quickly and, after Tortoriello was fired for giving a customer a big discount on a computer, they moved to Hawaii at the beginning of 2010 to live off the land. While they did odd jobs for a local artist, they lived in a cabin in Papaikou, Hawaii; Messina painted, and Tortoriello worked on more solo music, including the avant noise project Rainbow Circuit. The duo returned to Chicago in April 2010, where Tortoriello continued working on music. In May, he posted the first Houses song, “Endless Spring,” online, where it was quickly championed by Pitchfork; by the end of the month, Tortoriello had signed to Lefse Records
, home also to the like-minded Neon Indian
and How to Dress Well
. Messina joined the band at this point, and the pair finished the album over the summer. Enlisting visual artist Alan Jensen to add some flair to their live shows, Houses played their first gig at the 2010 CMJ Festival in October 2010, a few days after their debut album, All Night, was released. Tortoriello also provided live support to How to Dress Well
's Tom Krell at his CMJ dates. The band relocated from Chicago to Los Angeles and built their sophomore album, A Quiet Darkness, on samples collected in abandoned roadside structures along California highways. The lush and sometimes ambient-leaning album was released in April of 2013. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi