San Fermin (band)

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San Fermin
San Fermin band.jpg
San Fermin performing at SXSW in 2014
Background information
Origin Brooklyn, New York, United States
Genres Indie Rock, Chamber Pop
Years active 2011 (2011)-present
Labels Downtown Records
Associated acts Lucius, Nico Muhly, Charlene Kaye, NOW Ensemble
Members Ellis Ludwig-Leone
Allen Tate
Charlene Kaye
John Brandon
Stephen Chen
Tyler McDiarmid
Michael Hanf
Claire Wellin[1]
Past members Rebekah Durham
Rae Cassidy
Eliza Bagg

San Fermin is an American indie rock band, led by Brooklyn-based composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone. They released their self-titled debut album on Downtown Records on September 17, 2013. Their second album Jackrabbit was released on April 21, 2015. Their third album Belong was released on April 7, 2017.



San Fermin took shape after Ludwig-Leone's graduation from Yale University, where he studied composition.[2] While still in college, he assisted composer Nico Muhly, known for his work with Antony and the Johnsons, Sufjan Stevens, and Grizzly Bear, on several film scores and operas.[2] Despite being in several bands in high school and even some during college, Ludwig-Leone did not decide to focus on making pop music until the end of his college career: "I put on a concert with some new pieces I had written for female singers, and then we ended the night with some pop tunes from the band, for which I made these totally over-the-top arrangements. It was then I realized that I could bring these things together."[3]

San Fermin[edit]

After his graduation from Yale, Ludwig-Leone retreated to Canada's secluded Banff Centre, where he wrote what would eventually become San Fermin.[2] The album was recorded shortly after. It features performances by 22 musicians, including vocals from Ludwig-Leone's longtime collaborator Allen Tate, as well as Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius.[3] While Tate is a member of the touring ensemble, Wolfe and Laessig are not, with Rae Cassidy performing the female parts in the band's live performances instead.[4] Cassidy's interpretations of the songs have been praised by numerous critics, including Paul Krugman of The New York Times.[5] The New Yorker recognized the musicianship of the entire eight-piece live ensemble, noting their ability to "deliver epic and emotion-laden rock, with glorious and operatic vocals, electronic break beats, horns, strings, and other flourishes."[6] In April 2014, Cassidy left the band to focus on her solo career and was replaced by Charlene Kaye.[7]

The band released their self-titled debut on September 17, 2013, via Downtown Records to positive reviews. NPR called the record "one of the year's most surprising, ambitious, evocative and moving records," praising Ludwig-Leone for his ability to write a collection of songs "as easy to love as they are to admire."[8] Pitchfork also gave the album a positive review, declaring the album's lead single "Sonsick", which was released December 2012, "deliriously infectious."[9][10] The album reached #18 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers album chart.[11]


On December 7, 2014, the band teased their new single "Parasites" via Instagram.[12] The next day, NPR premiered the track and announced the release of the band's second album.[13] Jackrabbit was released on April 21, 2015, via Downtown Records and debuted at #8 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart,[14] was met with critical praise from NPR,[15] Rolling Stone [16] and more. San Fermin made their national television debut on CBS This Morning on May 2, 2015 [17] and made their late night debut on Last Call With Carson Daly on June 2, 2015.[18]


Throughout the fall of 2016, they posted pictures and short videos of them recording a third album—simply hashtagged LP3—on their Instagram.[19] On December 8, 2016, the band posted on social media that they had finished recording and mixing LP3.[20][21] On January 6, 2017, San Fermin uploaded a single called Open to their YouTube-channel.[22] NPR reported that their new album would be called Belong.[23] A week later TIME announced a second single 'Bride' and an April 7 release date for their album "Belong."[24] In January 2017, actress/musician Claire Wellin joined the band as a touring member, replacing Rebekah Durham as violinist and vocalist.[25]

Additional musical contributions[edit]

Both Ludwig-Leone and the greater ensemble are active in the wider alternative and alt-classical music scenes. Ludwig-Leone has written music for many ensembles including ACME, Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, Decoda, Fifth House Ensemble, Hotel Elefant, JACK Quartet, Metropolis Ensemble, and NOW Ensemble, and was the Composer-in-Residence for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in their 2015 season.[25] In addition, he has written ballets with choreographer Troy Schumacher for the New York City Ballet[26] and BalletCollective.[27]

As a band, San Fermin has performed original works by composer Mark Dancigers in collaboration with NOW Ensemble.[28]


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions
San Fermin 18
  • Released: April 21, 2015
  • Label: Downtown Records
  • Format: CD, LP, download
  • Released: April 7, 2017
  • Label: Downtown Records
  • Format: CD, LP, download
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  • Live From the Advent Lutheran Church NYC (2013)
  • Sonsick Remixes EP (2013)


  1. ^ Tolentiono, Jia. "SAN FERMIN BRINGS BACK LAVISH ENSEMBLE INDIE POP". The New Yorker. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Gurrie, Samantha. "Life's Opera". Aritzia. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b Bell, William (1 July 2013). "San Fermin - Interview". Bowlegs. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  4. ^ Mueller, Matt (23 September 2013). "San Fermin a band of characters, about characters". On Milwaukee. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  5. ^ Krugman, Paul (8 November 2013). "Friday Night Music: San Fermin". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  6. ^ "Going On About Town: Nightlife - San Fermin". The New Yorker. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  7. ^ Levy, Piet (2014-04-07). "Milwaukee native Rae Cassidy leaves buzz band San Fermin". Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  8. ^ Thompson, Stephen (8 September 2013). "First Listen: San Fermin, 'San Fermin'". NPR. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  9. ^ Larson, Jeremy D. (30 September 2013). "San Fermin: San Fermin". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  10. ^ Snapes, Laura (15 May 2013). "San Fermin: "Sonsick"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  11. ^ "San Fermin – San Fermin : Awards : AllMusic". All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Instagram". Instagram. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  13. ^ "Song Premiere: San Fermin, 'Parasites'". 8 December 2014.
  14. ^ "San Fermin - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  15. ^ Stephen Thompson (2015-04-12). "Review: San Fermin, 'Jackrabbit'". NPR. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  16. ^ Hermes, Will (2015-05-04). "San Fermin Jackrabbit Album Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  17. ^ "Saturday Sessions: San Fermin performs "Jackrabbit" - Videos". CBS News. 2015-05-02. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  18. ^ "San Fermin, "Jackrabbit" | Video | Last Call with Carson Daly". NBC. 2015-02-06. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  19. ^ "Instagram". Instagram. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  20. ^ "Instagram". Instagram. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  21. ^ "Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
  22. ^ "Open (Official Audio)". YouTube. 2017-01-05. Retrieved 2017-01-06.
  23. ^ Thompson, Stephen (2017-01-05). "San Fermin Returns With 'Open' — And A New Album Soon". NPR. Retrieved 2017-01-06.
  24. ^ Bruiner, Raisa (2017-01-12). "Indie Pop Band San Fermin Announce New Album; Listen to Soaring New Single "Bride"". TIME. Retrieved 2017-01-12.
  25. ^ a b "Kaufman Music Center presents Ecstatic Music Festival San Fermin & NOW Ensemble". Kaufman Music Center, 2017.
  26. ^ "Common Ground". nycballet. NYC Ballet. 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  27. ^ "All That We See | BalletCollective". Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  28. ^ "Ecstatic Music Festival: San Fermin & NOW Ensemble". Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  29. ^ "Heatseeker Albums: October 5, 2013". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  30. ^ "Heatseeker Albums: May 9, 2015". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  31. ^ "Independent Albums: May 9, 2015". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  32. ^ "Heatseeker Albums: April 29, 2017". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 6 April 2018.

External links[edit]