Ask Hummingbird Hotel duo David Ornelas and his wife Megan Love and they’ll tell you they feel every song is a love song. That could have something to do with the fact that music brought the two lovebirds together.
Hummingbird Hotel’s self-titled, 11-track album debuted Jan. 11. It’s a sample of the couple’s love story that has evolved in the last four and a half years.
Ornelas and Love initially met nearly a decade ago when she opened as a solo artist for his formed reggae group Stranger Band at Belly Up.
They merged into a couple and paired up musically in 2014, shortly after playing gigs one evening at the Solana Beach venue. About a week later they wrote Can’t Say (the last track on the album) in one evening on the rooftop of Love’s residence.
“It was pretty magical,” Ornelas admitted. “I realized we could probably write another song together.”
And they did, via Skype, while Ornelas was touring. Leaving After Midnight was one of those created and inspired while they were apart. The couple then married in August 2017.
Hummingbird Hotel’s music is defined as indie, soul, pop and inspired by Jim Croce and Fleetwood Mac, as well as newer artists such as Leon Bridges and Chris Stapleton.
An eclectic mix of instruments used on their current album includes the Dumbek, upright bass, cajón, violin, a variety of drums, the ukulele, electric guitar, shakers and melodica. Ornelas and Love sought to create an album that blended organic and digital sounds by using guitar cases for the beat on tracks like On My Way.
The goal for the album: For listeners to feel uplifted by the songs.
“I hope the album puts people in a place of inspiration … if they’re not in a good place,” Love said.
Evoking that kind of positivity is a desire for herself as well.
In December 2015 Love began struggling with her voice following repeated sickness, which left it in an inferior state.
“When I would try to hit a pitch it wouldn’t be there, my voice would kind of drop out,” she said. “It became hoarse and scratchy.”
Six months later when she went to see an ear, nose and throat doctor she received a bleak diagnosis that included the possibility of her voice never fully recovering.
After researching her condition, Love found a doctor in Japan that would perform surgery on her vocal cords, but it did not restore her voice. Despite that, Love is healing with the use of thyroid and adrenal supplements.
Last year, her voice recovered enough to finish Hummingbird Hotel, the name for which came about from an overpopulated honeysuckle bush at Love’s house.
“We used to joke, ‘That’s the hummingbird hotel, there’s no vacancy,’” Love said.
“It sounds better than Mockingbird Motel, too,” Ornelas joked.
As far as a favorite song, the couple gave a nod to the album’s first track, I Remember for its reminder to always fall back on who you are and feel comfortable with yourself no matter what.
But Love said her all-time favorite is Home, a song they finished while camping in Big Sur. Ornelas had begun writing the song more than a decade earlier and after sharing it with Love, a chorus emerged.
Home is the song that received the most interest during a songwriting conference in Hawaii last July. They ended up signing a publishing and sync licensing deal with Los Angeles-based Think Music.
“I like to think that I wrote Home for her because when I was writing it I pictured myself going into a house with a fireplace and having kids and taking them to school...” Ornelas said.
The couple lives in Chula Vista, where they find inspiration for writing songs in the tranquility of a local cemetery, the beauty of the J Street Marina and the beach.
Hummingbird Hotel is playing at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) in Anaheim on Jan. 26.
To learn more about the duo’s newly released self-titled album and what’s happening with Hummingbird Hotel, go here.