At a first listen - specially if you start with the single 'Misanthrope' - you get a raw, lo fi and folk feeling (and DIY to the core). 'Primal folk' is how they define their music. But it's not only that...
Their music has strength, heart and concept. And they deal with pretty deep subjects like philosophy and sociology. That might keep one feeling that Stray Kites' music is pretentious. I think the right adjective would be 'bold'. If someone senses a pretentious feeling, I think is due to the fact that their not afraid - as I said before - of experimenting and pushing their musical limits. In my opinion, though, this pretentious feeling is false.
Don't assume this is music to be listened with an 'academic attention'. Music is, after all, made to be enjoyed.
They have an album released last year called 'One Day, Earth Time' and two singles released this year (the already mentioned) 'Misanthrope' and 'All Is Well'. You can find everything available for download on their bandcamp. Later this year, they'll release their second album, 'Mieux'.
This is music that you might like or hate at first listen. Still, it's worth to take check it out for its fresh and original feeling.
"Our music is filled with milk and peanut butter and gluten and pollen and dander and bee stings and a lot of people are allergic to it".
In our interview we talked about DIY, islands with endless lunar eclipses, a place in the woods called Screaming Forest Cove, stealing music and more...
01. Tell me about your origins... as musicians... as a duo… as human beings...
JUNIOR: Hmmm. I moved homes a lot as a child. Because of that I can’t quite remember much of my childhood, though I do remember specific, significant events. At 12 years old I lived in the suburbs of San Antonio in Texas. There my friend/neighbor, Vincent Valdez, formally introduced and educated me to music. I got a guitar for my birthday and when it left my hands it was on my back, but never out of my mind. I got good at playing the music I liked. Years later I moved to Ashburn, Virginia where I met Max and started “Stray Kites” in early 2010.
MAX: Well, my family is somewhat musical and I tried playing guitar when I was around eight. I couldn't play it so I just moved into drums. My dad really likes surf music and my sister really likes a lot of stuff including indie and folk music. They both just grew on me so when I met Junior we had solid starting point.
|download their first album|
'One Day, Earth Time' (2010)
02. Imagine a planet, landscape or visual representation for your music. How it would look like?
JUNIOR: I imagine it’d be an island. A gorgeous island whose only inhabitants would a young man and woman. The most notable thing about the island is that it somehow always stays in the line of a lunar eclipse. The man and woman like to look up into the sky staring at the red moon even though they don’t entirely comprehend it. I like write music with pop sensibilities; I like it when music is inviting, enjoyable, and accessible at first listen. However, to a greater extent I enjoy poetry and sincerity in lyrics. Lyrics of substance matter a great deal to Stray Kites.
03. Your music has this folk – lo fi - DIY sense and the mood of the songs take me to this house in the middle of the woods and sometimes it is scary to be there because a cult might come and take me away. Hope you don’t get offended by my description, but anyway… I don’t mind getting my vision disrupted, so could you talk a bit about your 'musical aesthetics'? And out of curiosity: how's the place where you record your songs?
JUNIOR: Well we record in Max’s basement, but I write almost all of the tunes at a place I call Screaming Forest Cove. Screaming Forest Cove is a place in the woods near my house where the trees open up and make arches. Sometimes deer pass by, but it’s a pretty still and silent piece of wilderness. There’s a massive log there that I use as a bench to think about sociology, philosophy, poetry, music, God and etcetera… but your description was pretty close.
04. You clearly are not afraid of experimentalisms (with both, melodies and lyrics). There’s this profusion of instruments and very allegoric, metaphorical imagery in your songs. Tell us about influences and how do you want/think people to perceive your musical universe.
MAX: Our musical influences vary so much it's hard to describe. It’s basically bits and pieces from different bands of different genres jumbled together. I think people should perceive our musical universe by letting themselves go into it and then doing whatever they want. There are profound thoughts that go into it, but there is no problem with taking it at face value.
JUNIOR: I personally find it easier and more fun to write poetry in esoteric allegories. For writing influences, I’d have to say the anylization of human interactions (sociology) and the over-anylization of oneself (introspection) play a pretty sizable role into Mieux. As for musical interpretation, we’ve always been attracted to the idea of busking. To actually do it we’d need to play “real instruments.” A lot of the music that’s got a lo-fi or DIY tag to it was done on a laptop and there’s this sense of copy and paste manipulation to it. It just doesn’t sound “real”, at least to us. A lot of our instrumentation comes from more traditional sounding instruments, acoustic guitars, primal drumming, vibraphone, melodica, mandolin, and so on. They’re just played in a way in a way that wants to push their limits.
05. ‘Misanthrope’ is a powerful single, released last January. It has this anger and somehow a sort of urgency and hopelessness in it. Could you talk a bit about this song in particular?
JUNIOR: Wow, January feels like such long ago. Misanthrope was made out of this frustration I started to develop with self proclaimed “intelligent people.” A large amount of these people feel like their knowledge lets them be able to rationalize things like right and wrong. As if everything is an opinion and nothing really matters and that they’re some sort of philosopher for thinking this way. Their favorite pastime is looking on society with a squint and a grimace. They’re not intelligent though. They aren’t “deep.” I wish they knew they were squinting into a mirror.
06. So far, all your releases are free for download on your Bandcamp page. Curious to know about your ideas on music distribution nowadays…
JUNIOR: To be completely honest I steal most of the digital music I own. I buy the vinyls of music I love, but if I was really going to purchase every tune on my ipod I’d need to take out some loans. A popular idiom is “the best things in life are free.” In the spirit of that quote all of our digital music can be found for free. Oh! And Bandcamp is a brilliant website.
07. I know that you’re recording a new album that’s going to be released sometime this year… How’s the creation process? What can we expect for this new album and how do you plan to release it? Are you guys looking for a record label or something?
JUNIOR: One time someone told me that all of our songs on this upcoming record have a "we worked really hard on this, but at the same time we're just trying to have fun” vibe to it. He hadn’t heard all the songs, but I think that might be one of the most accurate assumptions ever.
MAX: The creation process is really fun and even more innovative since we do it all ourselves. We plan to digitally release ‘Mieux’ through our Bandcamp as a pay-what you- like record. However, they’ll also be a physical release that’ll cost some money. And a record label would be nice, but whatever happens is fine.
08. A place and time to hear ‘Stray Kites’.
MAX: Canoeing down a river.
JUNIOR: Around 7 or 8 o clock with a friend.
09. A pretty video our readers should watch…
10. Anything else you feel like saying
JUNIOR: And don’t forget to watch new episodes of Adventure Time. Monday nights @ eight on Cartoon Network.