Dream-pop, indie rock 3-piece released their debut LP 'With You For Ever', on April 9th.
The full length record was written and recorded entirely in the first half of 2020 - a period of time that the world will collectively remember. The songs do not so much play into the zeitgeist as accompany it – weaved in and out of the record are themes of social isolation, anxiety and dissolution; inter-independence; restlessness; nostalgia; and collective memory, the last of which, given the band’s lifetime of friendship, has long underlined their writing process. The songs are personal both to the three songwriters as individuals and to the group as a whole. A shared living room and late night discussions spun the thread that winds through the record from start to finish, while collaborative arrangement and Will Evans’ meticulous production make it seem as if the ten tracks were carved from a singular sonic medium.
For the band, this collection of songs is the soundtrack to a time of shared uncertainty spent in close quarters and a reflection on the parts of life which matter most. Still, it would be rash to write the album off as blindly optimistic. Each track serves in its own way to remind us that social fabric, in its many cuts and patterns, is the last comfort that we cannot afford to lose.
We had the opportunity to speak with the band on the album release, inspirations, the recording process and more...
Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about the band!
Nick: "Hi - we’re Stray Fossa, from Charlottesville, Virginia. Will and I are brothers, we’ve known and been playing music with Zach since we were all kids. It’s funny because we get asked a lot about our origins, where the band comes from, etc. but it was kinda always there to some extent, at least for me. We all went our separate ways for a while but with every intention to start a new project someday - so the nameless band existed in the backs of our minds for years. Eventually, the timing was right - we were all in a period of transition, so we jumped on the moment. We moved to a shared house in Charlottesville, found day jobs, started working on new music, and Stray Fossa was born."
You’ve just released your debut album ‘With You For Ever! Tell us a little about it!
Will: "Well, it started as a bunch of demos we were working on last spring, and at some point we realized, hey these all kind of work together. So the album kind of fell into our laps. So the project became (at least for me) largely a commitment to finishing those tracks. As a whole they were fun to work on because I think each track sort of holds its own flavour, and when you’re spending endless hours producing ten songs it’s nice when one song provides a break from the next."
How did you decide on the album name?
Zach: "It came from an image we were considering at first for the cover. The picture was from this 1950s Italian magazine and showed people riding upright in these futuristic vehicles (at least for the 50s I guess…). Each scooter/car was surrounded by a bubble shield of sorts. In the background behind the bubble-cars was a marquee which read 'With You For Ever',and while we didn’t go with the art we used this aspect of the image as the title. It all seemed relevant given this past year. I personally like the title because each band member has his own interpretation of it. Mine for example is the only person you’re truly with “forever” is yourself. I think that realisation has hit all of us in some way or another over the past year."
What was the writing and recording process like?
"Nick: It really varied by song. Most were written in parallel to recording the album. But sometimes revisited older material that suddenly felt relevant again being cooped up together. 'Best Kind of Moment' was a demo of Will’s that we dusted off and re-recorded to fit with the other tracks. Also, 'Called Away Again' was an .mp3 sitting in a folder from 2018, the music was there but lyrically the song came together over the span of working in the studio. I’d say about a third of the songs were essentially whirlwind studio sessions and/or collaborations. Living together you always have a sense of what the others are tinkering with, I mean, you can hear it at all hours of the day and night. We have a pretty meticulous approach to tracking, which can feel sluggish but that’s the way we do it I guess. Probably didn’t help that it was also super hot. We started in late spring but by the summer it got sweaty in the attic with little airflow and all the gear. Most of the time fans are too loud. I remember doing vocals one day, finally getting a good take and actually excited to start editing because then I’d finally be able to turn on the 3-4 fans we have up there pointed at the desk. By that point we were often working at night or for like 2-hour bursts before having to take a break. Always good to step away and come back to things though."
Are there any key themes, stories or inspirations that run throughout?
Will: "Yea, all the songs were written and produced in our home studio during the initial peak of the pandemic, so a lot of themes can be traced back to what we were all going through at the time. I think the pandemic presented psychological and emotional challenges for all of us (as it did for the world). So it was definitely a time of deeper reflection. That we were going through all of this together while working on these songs, I think, glues them to that period of being stuck in the same house, distanced from other important people in our lives."
Do you guys have a favourite lyric or whole track? If so, which one and why?
Nick: "Building off what Will just said; I always liked the lyrics “as close as it was far”. With the forced isolation came the need for more interaction; so on the one hand you are connecting more frequently or longer every day with those you love but are separated from, and those talks are unusually earnest and honest, but on the other hand you feel farther away than ever. We were happy to be working and staying productive but there still was this sense of being in limbo - not coasting but like waiting for your life to start again."
Have you got any fun behind the scenes stories from the writing / recording process?
Will: "Although we didn’t make much use of our beloved minivan with tours canceled, I did spend an inordinate amount of time sitting in there with my laptop mixing and mastering the songs. It’s amazing how different sets of speakers highlight problems in the mix, and our 2008 Toyota Sienna has been very helpful in that way. Though I don’t recommend buying a minivan just to mix music..."
How have you found making an album and trying to be creative over the past year which has been really difficult for artists?
Zach: "Nick was getting at it but I’d emphasise that we were really lucky in that we lived together and were able to spend our time in our attic studio during lockdown. We know that not every artist and band has had the luxury of being able to record together for a while now and we don’t take it for granted that we are able to produce these songs on our own. We’ve been grateful to be able to keep everything in house. So we had time and space, for sure. It was certainly difficult during the writing and recording process to keep on track and find inspiration from typical sources as we couldn’t be out on the road touring, exploring new places, and seeing family and friends. I think each of us had to dig a little deeper to find creative energy that felt sincere in order to bring this album to life."
What can we expect next from Stray Fossa?
Will: "More music in the near future:)"
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