We had the opportunity to interview Brooklyn-based alt duo Foreign Air! They are an act on the rise with their single "Free Animal" crossing 17,000,000 streams on Spotify! They have an infectious alt sound that will hook you instantly. Keep your eyes on them because they are going places. Check out our interview below!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
Jesse - Foreign Air has been writing and releasing music for about 3 years now. Both Jake and I have been writing and performing in different bands for years prior which is how we met. Personally, I was drawn to my grandparent’s piano at a really young age. My parent’s ended up buying one for our house and I took lessons for a few years. By the time I was 12 I had switched my focus to the drums. I would practice everyday after school until dinner was ready. I was lucky to have parents that didn’t mind the loud banging from the den while they were cooking. A few years later I started learning the guitar. Developing a strong sense of rhythm through the drums paved the way for me to pick up other instruments down the road and make some decent noise without too much of a learning curve. I remember seeing the Nirvana tour documentary “Live Tonight:Sold Out” with my older brother and falling in love with the idea of writing music, performing and touring. It was my first time seeing a movement of sorts and the fact that they were so successful doing what they loved resonated with me, as it did most of the world.
Jacob - I fell in love with my moms vinyl collection when I was younger. I was fascinated by her turntable and the images on the album covers. Later I started to play guitar as a means to connect with other like minded people. I remember not really knowing how to play for awhile but still writing songs with the couple of chords different friends had shown me. I was very much a loner growing up so music resonated with me not only in terms of connecting with other people but also as a way to express myself. I loved hoping on the metro and going to local DIY shows in Washington DC. There was definitely an energy there that sparked something. Whatever was happening in that environment felt important and I wanted to be apart of it. I was more interested in the shows, flyers, and bands than anything that was happening at my school. I’ve been pursing music ever since...
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
Jesse - It’s a process of experimentation. We mess around with synth patches, drum beats, piano chords and melodies until something feels special to both of us. It’s normally a drum beat or a vocal melody that stands out first. Once you find that spark you feed it some other elements to see if you can start a fire of sorts. We’re working fast at that point, like it’s a race against time to follow the idea before it gets away from us. We basically keep building and building and building until we’ve most likely gone too far. That’s when we back it off and start muting things and figuring out what elements are expressing or supporting the song the best and how to arrange the parts. Vocally, it’s a balancing act. We don’t want to be too obvious lyrically but we don’t want the listener to check out and think we’re just stringing random words together either. We want to have a message but for there to be ample room for interpretation.
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
Jesse- We are inspired by anyone that’s passionate, hard working and attempting to push the boundaries musically and visually. Growing up in the 90’s and early 2000’s naturally we both have love for the genre blending of that time period. It was such a melting pot. An artist like Beck is a prime example of blending mpc hip-hop beats with rock and blues in an interesting way. Radiohead is a given at this point. Talking Heads. All the music videos back then were wild too. Crazy over the top green screens and outfits.
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
Jesse - My left-handed stratocaster, so hard to find left handed guitars. You really don’t have many options unless you get something custom made. The Native Instruments Kontrol series keyboards have really been helping bridge the gap between analog and digital. I like being able to turn physical knobs and not having to look at the computer screen so much. Maschine is definitely a tool of choice when it comes to beat making and sample chopping too. The Line-6 M9 is a secret weapon when it comes to creating oddly pitched vocal loops on the fly.
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
Jesse - Most likely very moody in terms of lighting, but we’ve been developing new lighting setups for every tour. We want it to feel very unified. We don’t want the stage to take the focus away from the music which is why less can be more. If you take away sight, your sense of hearing is really heightened. We try to play with this balance.
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
Jacob - I hope the music comes across as authentic or genuine because it really is a reflection of our surroundings. Digging through our massive dropbox folder of demos I can always tell where a song or an idea began based upon the mood and textures we used. I think song writing for us has always been about capturing a moment or a feeling and trying to convey that back out in to the world.
7. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
Jacob - We are currently working on finishing up a full length album that we are planning to release in March of this year. The album feels like a reflection of the last 3 years in terms of where we were at in our lives when we first started working on Foreign Air up until now. Back in 2015 we were still working side jobs trying to figure out how to pursue making music full time. We are incredibly lucky to be able to make records and tour full time. The album also features a number of co-writes and collaboration from friends we have made long the way. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.