I've never lived outside of California. I don't think I've even spent more than a couple of weeks away from my home state at any one time. There is an idiom that says no one is really from L.A., and that might seem true most of the time but my mother is from L.A., and though I was raised about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, I easily identify myself as a born and bred local.

Taylor Brown is also from L.A., the only member of Vanaprasta that can claim such. He sits passenger of my Corolla giving me that line about how no one is really from L.A. and we realize that both of us kind of are and still, it means absolutely nothing in terms of feeling at home or knowing your way around or connection to something greater. It's as much of a crapshoot as if you were a transplant from Hawaii or Oregon or Salt Lake City or Oklahoma, as his bandmates are.

When they say no one is from L.A., I think they mean that the city feels the same whether you've been there for a year or a lifetime. Because there are so many non-natives, Los Angeles is virtually everywhere, starting from the faces on our television set and ending with the songs on our radio. Hollywood is synonymous with illusions, so how can you call something home that is considered to be merely a mirage.

"I don't know why a band would come to L.A. to make it," Taylor says, "as opposed to a place like Portland or San Francisco, it doesn't seem like it would make a difference these days, or even it might benefit you to be from somewhere else, because it is such a competitive scene here."

His band a perfect example of the rise to fame so typical of Los Angeles, or the near-hit that never came to be. With the conclusion of their story still uncertain, Vanaprasta have done just about the least L.A. move possible -- they've stepped out of the public eye.

A few years back, Vanaprasta seemed about as sure of a thing as you could get, with their highly technical and polished rock and soul full of commercial potential.But despite signs pointing to the contrary, they maintained their roots in the indie community, hosting a wildly successful residency at Silver Lake institution The Satellite, while also getting some radio and TV attention. The five-piece, Steven Wilkin, Collin Desha, Cameron Dmytryk, and Ben Smiley, were,'t making particularly cool music, but that didn't seem to matter. Much like the people that inhabit the city, the music of the L.A. is any and every genre combined in a crucible, and there are no real surprises when something breaks out from here. It's a matter of who, and not if.

And while there isn't much to compare them to in the region, a glance at recent success stories points to there being no rhyme or reason and scenes are close-knit and rarely feature too many acts breaking out together. How else would Dawes be reinvigorating the Laurel Canyon Sounds while FIDLAR yells about beer and drugs and the gutters that populate the beach, too. Foster the People has taken the art of radio jingles to the mainstream, while Fitz and the Tantrums mines influences in soul and ska. Who even knows what Grouplove is technically, or what Haim is, or who Julia Holter fits in with, and what links them to Local Natives, Lord Huron, and Baths. Ariel Pink and The Neighborhood, Warpaint and Capital Cities. Aside from a few isolated examples, like No Age's avant-hardcore or Best Coast's slop pop, L.A. music is as disparate as it comes.

"It's just a bunch of people trying to find their way in, whatever way possible." Those ways tend to be through two primary routes, the Sunset Strip and the East Side clubs. Not that they are mutually exclusive, but the former is the breeding ground for the next Alt-radio sensation, while the latter builds a local fanbase before conquering the festival circuit. Vanaprasta is a rare band that could be either or both, with other crossovers including Haim and Foster the People, both of whom had East Side showcases despite their major label affiliations. Likewise, a very indie-appealing band Papa went from having roots in the band Girls an FYF Fest appearance to getting a major label contract for their debut LP. There is no need to pick a side, though many do, just out of their own desire.

"The shows over there, they have a different feeling," Taylor notes on the Sunset Strip. "Not necessarily better or worse, but personally I prefer some other clubs. It doesn't speak to the feeling a lot of us are trying to put out there. A lot of what that scene is about is getting a radio single. But if you want to do things differently, more organically and build up a loyal following, then the people are attaching to you and the music, rather than just a song or a hook."

It's not a surprise, then, that I didn't meet Cameron on the Strip, but in Silver Lake, at the Thirsty Crow, a bar that doesn't even have live music. It was years ago and not unlike any other night of drinking, but I remember Cameron and I talked about Dirty Beaches and the Badlands album which had just popped into the collective consciousness that day and I liked him despite not really knowing his band. When I did hear Vanaprasta, it wasn't my thing, but I still liked Cameron and would bump into him from time to time and have good conversations about music. Last year he invited me to the studio to hear some new tracks and the music was significantly different, more contemporary sounding, still very polished, but more reflective of what the band listened to as well as their skill set. They even got Morgan Kibby to sing on it. I was under the impression that they had chosen their route and were ready get there.

But in a car with Taylor, and we are talking about honesty in music, with him concluding, "You want it to be a cerebral thing and an emotional thing."

"I have no problem having people question whether music comes from an honest place," Taylor says. "That is the listener's prerogative. And if they do question that, I have no problem confronting that, because I know it does. That has been a central tenant of the recent recording sessions."

Finding that honesty, in a place like Los Angeles especially, is a major factor on what we consider good and bad, and almost impossible to prove objectively. Rather, we call it taste.

"It was very specific what we wanted to get from the music," says Steven the frontman. "We wanted this Pink Floyd meets Justice thing, but it was clear that people weren't getting that and we had to put the brakes on. We had to sit down and figure out how that when we speak truth, it resonates as truth."

"It's possible to do everything yourself now," Cameron adds. "We have all the tools, we don't have PhaseScopes but I don't think that is making a big difference."

Vanaprasta took more than a year out of the public eye to reshape their sound and did so in true DIY fashion, recording the album themselves and learning most anything they didn't already know, save mastering. The band now has their own self-funded album to bring to labels, and is even paying for their own publicist. To go from unsure whether they wanted to move in the more commercial or more independent scenes to a band not really entrenched in either, it's a journey that has the five men in a good place as a band. Vanaprasta has put their money where their mouth is, assumed actual risk with their art, and will live and die by its success.

We spend the afternoon chatting about their band chemistry and about their goals and all the typical boring shit that journalists and musicians discuss. We bounce around a few locations, with the idea being to see if the band connects to these iconic L.A. music spots. Our final destination is the wall on Sunset where Elliot Smith took the art for Figure 8, and the band is uncomfortable with the pictures, worried it might be cheesy, as tourists take photos there with high regularity. I tell them it's not stealing or being lame, but more for the non-L.A., non-American readers to connect with the location. They trust me and we finish the shoot, with the final bit of conversation involving Taylor admitting he has a bass amp inside the building we are shooting at, and Cameron asking me my favorite Mountain Goats songs. 'High Hawk Season' and 'Marduk T-Shirt Incident' I tell them, liking Cameron's taste and, more importantly, trusting them as they trust me. Most people shy away from that question, whether you trust a musician, but for the critic or journalist that gets access, that might be the most important question of all. And when trusting people is a dangerous game, as it often is in L.A., believing in Vanaprasta is a bigger endorsement from me than what I think their songs sound like. I root for them because they are the good guys.