Air Stranger is a progressive rock/funk band that is starting to make a real impact on Vancouver’s vibrant indie scene. Their signature sound is illustrated by catchy melodies and blaring horn lines juxtaposed over lush jazz harmonies and heavy funk grooves.
I’m sure their sound will infect and hook you just like it did to me.
In this interview spotlight, we chat with members of Air Stranger about motivations, challenges, the latest project and more.
You can stream their single Dangerous Game below or connect on Soundcloud.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
Colin: We’re a progressive rock/funk band from Vancouver, BC. We try to create music with the elements of pop music – catchy hooks and danceable grooves – but whilst superimposing our own influences over it. We want a unique sound – so we use jazz harmonies, polyrhythms, odd time signatures, and blaring horn parts to spice up our pop-rock sound.
Seb: We are a progressive rock/funk band from Vancouver, BC (sorry to disagree with you, Colin). Our music is a very natural fusion of the various styles and influences of every member of the band. It this respect, our songs have characteristics of funk, progressive rock/metal, alternative rock, jazz, and fusion.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to keep going?
Colin: It is the passion of creating interesting music and collaborating on it with others who share that passion that drives me. There’s nothing quite like the feeling when a riff you wrote in your living room at 1 in the morning turns into a full-fledged song when you bring it into rehearsal. Every band member adds their own unique flare to the song and then we show it to our producer who records our parts and edits and mixes the song in the studio and we get to witness the whole process. It’s quite cool when you hear something back in a pair of quality headphones or speakers that started in your head a year ago.
Seb: I would say it is a combination of the motivation I have to play music in general and the strong musical relationship I have with each member of the band. Colin, Riley, and I have been playing together since my first year in music school. Eric is a fantastic drummer who happens to be Colin’s brother. Therefore, I have been playing with him for just as long. Our musical cohesion and personal relationship has continued to progress in the years following. While I have not been playing with the other members for as long, I feel a very similar musical connection with them. Our individual tastes and styles are different enough that we can supplement each other’s creativity, yet similar enough that we can be creative together.
Eric: I literally picked up drums because it looked like it might be fun. That just opened the door for my love of music and making music. Music has become a life long passion that I can no longer see myself without. I will never stop listening to it or creating it as it just simply makes me happy.
How is this new release different than previous ones? Were you trying to accomplish anything specific?
Seb: I would say that this song is designed to be one that drives people to dance. It has a brighter tempo than Blurred Love and a straight feel. These components make for a tune with the momentum necessary to get people dancing.
Colin: I agree with Seb. This tune began as a hymn I wrote for my church a while back and I wanted to see if I could turn it into a pop-rock song musically. It ended up retaining almost nothing of the original, but it instead had its own unique feel – a conglomerate of pop, funk, and prog-rock styles. When I work on these grooves, I want to create something that moves me. Incidentally I guess it gets other people to move as well. I also wanted the horns to be catchy without being cheesy. I would say this song follows much in the theme of our first single Blurred Love lyrically, but contrasts the slow, gritty, swung feel of Blurred Love with an upbeat, danceable groove.
Name one or two challenges you face as an indie musician in this oversaturated, digital music age? How has technology helped you (since we know it does help)?
Eric: With so many ways for people to create and share their own music, it becomes difficult to get yourself noticed, no matter how good your stuff is. You’re just one spec in a sea of millions, so getting the track heard by the right person at the right time is hard. The bar has also now been raised in terms of quality of the recording. If the production isn’t on par, no one wants to look at it, even though it can be quite difficult and expensive to professionally record and produce a live band.
Seb: I would say that there is a bit of a correlation between the increasing popularity of DJ’s in clubs and the decreasing popularity of bands. That is not to say that there is a very drastic or noticeable shift in this direction. It is more than possible for these two ways of creating music to exist in the vastness of the music scene. The technology available is also very helpful bands in the recording/production side of things.
Colin: I think some of the challenges are the fact that literally anyone can record something and put it out there for people to listen to, so the competition has increased dramatically. Anyone can put together a track using samples, beats, and synths using free software and put it up there, where as we are spending a fortune on getting our music professionally mixed, mastered, and produced in some of the best studios in Vancouver. So we have millions of other artists to compete with, many of whom have put much less money and effort in, but because certain other styles are considered more “in” at the moment than ours, they might actually have an easier time getting heard.
At the same time technology has helped us develop our sound in the studio to something that wasn’t possible fifty, sixty years ago. The production software, the microphones, the studios – a lot of it’s stayed the same, but a lot if has also changed in ways to make the sound that much more crisp in modern day recording and production. At the same time, the internet is our oyster in terms of how we can use it to promote our music. There are all of these music blogs covering our music, there’s social media, there’s TuneCore which helps us distribute our music to streaming platforms and music stores.
Where is the best place to connect with you online and discover more music?
Seb: I think that SoundCloud is currently our most prominent platform for sharing our music.
Colin: You can find us on our website. We also have a presence on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. We pre-release most of our songs on Soundcloud first, so if you want to hear our latest song, go on there. Alternatively, if you want to buy our music our music on online music store or monetized streaming service, you’ll find our recent singles on Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon Music, etc.
Anything else before we sign off?
Seb: Not that I can think of.