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Surf Mesa's Powell Aguirre comes from a musical family; his great-grandfather played in a swing band and his father plays saxophone and sings in a jazz group. Growing up in Seattle, Aguirre had access to the family piano from a young age, and he started tinkering with digital audio workstations with help from his older brother as a grade schooler. He began dedicating all his free time to making music as a junior in high school. As Surf Mesa, his earliest dance tracks featured throwaway titles like "Really Sh*tty Song But I Tried" and "I Drive a Honda Civic," but after few experiments in hip-hop, he quickly settled into more inviting releases such as 2017's "supernova" and the next year's "time for others" and "long drive." The latter track was included on his June 2018 EP, Mesa. He issued the final installment of the bedroom EP in March 2019, meanwhile continuing to issue songs including the Alexa Danielle collaboration "Taken Away" and remixes of EDM artists like Louis the Child ("Better Not") and Chelsea Cutler ("Your Shirt").
In November 2019, Surf Mesa released "ily (I love you baby)" featuring Emilee, a song that quotes the Frankie Valli hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." The track quickly spread as a go-to for user-generated videos on social media and was reissued by Astralwerks/Universal in February 2020. It went on to chart around the world, reaching the Top 20 in many European countries, number 22 in the U.K., and number 72 in the States, where it landed in the Top Five of the Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart. Popular remixes by Topic and Arty followed, and Surf Mesa returned with his own remix of "Be Kind" by Marshmello with Halsey in June of that year. ~ Marcy Donelson