WOW! You have got a distinguished modern and vintage style at the same time. Impressive indeed! Tell me, how did it all start since each one of you is living on a different continent?
Olivier: Hey, Mena! First of all thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us, and for the kind words about our music! We love Rock Era Magazine, and we hope your readers enjoy getting to know more about us and our music! For me, Antisolar grew out of all the music that has influenced me over the years, and, more directly, out of my previous band, Stripped Polaris, which took me from Paris to L.A. in the mid-2000’s to make a record. I’ve always loved both synthesized sounds and straight rock licks and melodies, and I really wanted that to show with Stripped Polaris. Andrew and I met when an engineer working on the record invited him to drop by one of the recording sessions. He eventually added some guitars to a couple of the tracks and once the record was done he became the music director for the live shows. As a result, he definitely spent a lot of time working with our diverse palette of sounds. Over the next several years, we stayed in touch and kept exchanging ideas even while living on different continents. When we started discussing doing a new project together there was definitely an ambition to continue exploring a blend of vintage and modern influences and mixing electric, acoustic and electronic sounds. I think, thanks to Andrew, that we’ve achieved a more streamlined but also more effective production.
“You Resurrect Me” gave me a feeling that I am living in the ’80s but at the same time with modern elements. Is it usually intended in your music to have such a great mix?
Andrew: Absolutely! The ’80’s was when Olivier and I really became aware of music, so it’s inevitable that those influences would creep in. We also love a huge range of music from the decades before and after the ’80’s. I think the beauty of making music now is that it’s really wide-open: it’s possible to pull from many genres and eras to create your own sound. Maybe this stems a bit from the fact that there are so many narrowly defined genres out there now: if your ears are open, it’s almost impossible to stay in one lane anyway, so why be concerned with genre? In my opinion, the more diverse the influences are, the more interesting the music has the potential to be.
Also, if I’m correct there are some electronic/synth influences. Who mainly inspires you while songwriting?
Olivier: Part of the beauty of this project is that we both have very different influences that we bring to it that creep in at different times depending on the vibe of the song. Sometimes it’s tough to pin down exactly who was the most prominent influence on a track, but on “You Resurrect Me”, for example, I’d say there’s definitely some Stereophonics meets Depeche Mode at Duran Duran concert where Pearl Jam was the opening act. (Laughs)
Andrew: Totally! Personally, while working on the record, I was listening to a lot of the Killers, Muse, Elbow, Alt-J, and Algiers. Sometimes the influences are quite clear and direct. For example on our previous single “Do We Tremble At Night?“, there’s a low synth sound right before the second chorus that was very much inspired by a texture on Alt-J’s “Every Other Freckle“. Other times, the sounds are deeply embedded in our subconscious, and the origin is less clear.
The lyrical themes are very emotional and powerful. Do you both work on it?
Olivier: For sure! We both have stories to tell, and our first batch of songs reflects that: the theme of our first single, “Awake” grew out of my experiences, but eventually morphed into something more universal as we collaborated on the lyrics. “Do We Tremble At Night?” and “You Resurrect Me” are deeply personal to me, with a bit of input and editing from Andrew, and the next two singles we’ll be releasing began with simple ideas from me that inspired Andrew to write about some of his own experiences. As a result, the songs really reflect “our” experience.
Andrew: And not to go off topic here, but co-writing is really helpful for me because I feel like when we work on our own, it’s easy to self-censor what may actually be some of our best ideas. When we collaborate, an idea that might otherwise be thrown out might be something the other person sees value in. Before you know it, a “throwaway” idea might be reshaped and become the basis for something really cool.
Since you work remotely, does it affect your process like the timing of releases, recording, among other procedures?
Andrew: Thankfully, we obviously live in the best era for being able to collaborate regardless of distance, so the distance affects things a little bit, but not a ton. We can bounce ideas off each other in pretty much real time, coordinate releases, accomplish most of the recording, and do most of the other work that needs to be done regardless of where we are in the world. We do definitely still like getting together to do the last stages of recording as well as the mixing and mastering. The biggest logistical hurdles have to do with continually capturing visual content in a world where people are used to seeing a steady stream of it: for example it’s not possible to do new band photos spur of the moment.
The two of you are doing a great job indeed, still, are you considering adding other members to the project someday?
Olivier: Never say never, but we certainly like our little circle! To be fair, we have a fantastic team who has helped us with our first batch of songs including drummer Randy Cooke, bassist Eric Holden, keyboardist Troy Welstad, engineers Luke Tozour and Brooke Villanyi, mix engineer Jorge Costa, mastering engineer Dale Becker and graphic artist Daren Challman. There are definitely other members of the “Antisolar family”! We’re also both lucky to be part of vibrant artistic communities in Paris and L.A., so one of our hopes for the long-term prospects of this project is that we’ll be able to involve more and more of our friends in collaborative ways. So really, we’re kind of just the tip of the iceberg: we might be the ones that you see, but there are a whole lot more creative people whose contributions make up Antisolar.
I struggled to find any music videos. Are you aiming to film one soon?
Olivier: We have a pretty amazing and unique lyric video that our good friend Lance Konnerth did for “Awake“ on YouTube (just search for Antisolar Awake), as well as a really compelling video for “Do We Tremble At Night?“ that we’re releasing in part to call attention to the amazing work being done by an organization dear to my heart, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. But yes, a more traditional music video involving both of us at the same time has been delayed by the fact that we are living on different continents during a global pandemic. We do have some big ideas brewing, though, so stay tuned!
Finally, thank you for the chat, and tell your fans more about your upcoming plans.
Andrew: Mena, thanks again so much for having us! We really enjoyed chatting with you! As Olivier mentioned, we’re really excited about our upcoming video for “Do We Tremble At Night?“, which will be out very soon! We also have another single coming out in late January, and a couple more releases already planned after that. One last thing I wanted to mention is that the coolest part about releasing our music has been getting to know both the people who check out our music and other musicians who are putting out great music. So we’d love it if anyone who is checking us out would not only take a listen to our music but also drop us a DM via Instagram (@antisolarmusic). If you’re a music fan, let us know what else you’re listening to that you find inspiring. If you’re a band or solo artist, let us know where we can check out your music!
Olivier: Absolutely! Getting to know both fans and other artists is one of the best parts of this journey! I agree with all Andrew said, and I’ll just add that several new songs have already been written, so we’re making plans to cross the pond and bring them to life! Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us, Mena!