Finding success with folk

Life's pretty sweet right now for Jessi Fulghum and Jeremy Brock, a pair of 22-year-olds with much older souls.

The duo has found surprise success with I Hate You Just Kidding (IHYJK), their musical venture, and with each other. IHYJK will perform a release show for its new EP on Sept. 4 at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa.

The duo performs dreamy, folksy pop — think acoustic guitar, harmonica and layered voices — that would be at home on the speakers of any indie coffee shop or Urban Outfitters store.

In the plaintive ode "My Little Dove," Fulghum describes of her struggle to hear the eponymous bird's music through the belligerent caws of raucous crows.

"O little dove, I can barely hear ya. Won't you come more near? You fill my ears with the songs I love," Fulghum sings.

Wednesday found the pair enjoying their only day off this week by preparing their very first breakfast — at noon — in their new Costa Mesa apartment.

"We first met two years back," Brock said. "We worked together at Calvin Klein, South Coast Plaza, and we didn't really start hanging out until after we both quit. I had been doing music for a few years prior, and when we started hanging out, Jessi showed me something she had done in high school and I liked it."

That "something" was a song Fulghum had recorded when she was 15. Sparked by Fulghum's unexpectedly fine voice, the two began writing songs together about cheeseburgers and other goofy topics. Fittingly, their band name came from a line of dialogue in "Home Movies," an Adult Swim cartoon.

The pastime quickly developed into more, when they decided to focus on writing "real" songs and performing live together. The real shock came when IHYJK were nominated for three Orange County Music Awards this year.

"I was at work, and I got a text from [publicist] Ashley Eliot, and she was like, 'Congrats, you guys were nominated for Best New Artist.' I wasn't even supposed to have my phone in my pocket," Brock said.

When he found out later that day that the duo also was nominated for Best Folk, the shock increased into incredulity.

"I didn't even know they had that category," Brock said.

Brock and Fulghum acknowledge that their music has a folk sound, but said they don't stick to the "rules" of any particular genre, feeling free to bring in rock and other styles as needed.

"We draw on a lot of influences from long ago," Brock said. "We do still like a lot of music from today, but a lot of our influences are from the '50s and the '70s."

"Most people think we're older when they hear us," Fulghum said, due to their "soulful" sound.

Although they're "not objected to" to a record deal, IHYJK prefer to wait for the right opportunity to come up, rather than to quickly jump into the business.

"We really enjoy making music," Brock said. "That's why we do it."

Case in point: their five-song EP, which is only about 13 minutes long.

"We write a lot of songs together, but it doesn't really look that way because we're really picky about the songs we show people," Brock said. "The EP isn't very much to show people, but … it felt right. We didn't want to put anymore on it than what's there."

IHYJK also completed a self-promoted recent West Coast tour, which, although "awesome," was an expensive venture, they said.

When not on shift at companies like Starbucks, the pair delves into a number of art forms, from painting to writing screenplays and short stories.

"There's always something to work on," Fulghum said.

If You Go

Who: I Hate You Just Kidding

What: EP release show

When: 9 p.m. Sept. 4

Where: Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa

Cost: $5

Information: (949) 642-0600, detroitbar.com

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