For the past couple of weeks Strvngers has been one of the many bands absolutely dominating my playlists with an absolute iron fist. If I'm not jamming out to their hit song 'Nostalgia' I'm digesting 'Dressed To Kill' like there's no tomorrow. Seeing that I loved their debut album (Full review HERE) ever so much, I decided to chat with the two members of the band Maria and KC about their past, favorite albums, and their debut on Negative Gain Productions. Read on below!
So, the promos for your self-titled album were just sent out not too long ago but I've eaten it up more than you could possibly imagine. For those of you who don't know you, let's start off with basic introductions. Who is in Strvngers, what type of music do you perform, and what's your favorite kind of pizza?
Maria: Strvngers is KC and myself, Maria Joaquin. We make music you can dance to but with a darkwave/retrowave sound to it. But you can call it what you want! I haven't had pizza in over a year! Haha. I'm not a pizza guy.
KC: As for pizza, well, that is easy, Hawaiian!
While your sound is undoubtedly 80s inspired and has a wicked electropop/darkwave flair to it, I'd like to go back in time to when you first began your musical journey. What was the first instrument you picked up and played? How did that inspire you to continue all the way to now?
Maria: Haha, the first instrument I learned how to play was the trumpet! I got stuck with it in band class but took a liking to it as I was pretty good at it! I played that for about 5 years before I got into playing guitar, acoustic and electric. I put in some crazy hours into learning how to play guitar. I wanted to be in a metal band so bad but they all already had guitar players that were light years ahead of me. So I turned to vocals, as a lot of the ads I was seeing were looking for singers. I still played a lot of acoustic guitar and played some coffee shops here and there because I still enjoyed writing song on my own. I soon got into piano in my early twenties too. I have a nice little one in my house that I still play! Music is art. And I am an artist. I have to create. Life inspires and I have no choice but to get it out in some art form or another. Strvngers is just the current manifestation of that!
KC: The first instrument I ever played was a super old organ that was in my childhood home growing up. It belonged to my mom, who plays a mean polka on the organ! Once I began to fiddle with that I got older and got my first Casio keyboard for my eigth birthday! I was HOOKED. I began playing the electric guitar at fourteen and played in a few different punk bands growing up and even toured across Canada at the age of nineteen as a rythym guitarist for a pop punk group known as Darryl's Grocery Bag. Music is it for me. It's the reason I smile and get enjoyment out of life. I continue to learn new things everyday be it producing, writing, or just listening. It's the ultimate form of therapy for me.
Tell me, when and where did you guys meet and how did you get the idea for Strvngers in your head?
KC: Maria has approached me online over a year ago on Facebook asking me to write a couple instrumentals for a solo project he was working on. We had known each other very loosely through the music scene but had never really spoken much until he reached out to me. After I sent him about three tracks he decided that he was going to scrap his solo project and put together a six song EP with me using my instrumentals. All we needed was a name....Strvngers was born.
Maria: Hahah, yeah what KC said! I came up with the name because when I thought about it, KC and I were just that! Strangers! We had written a few songs together via the internet before we actually even met to record! We're still getting to know each other but we are well on our way to becoming besties and changing our band name to "
And do you guys work well together? Do you ever find yourselves bumping heads or arguing when it comes time to create the music?
KC: We work extremely well together. We have never butt heads about anything. We share the same kindred spirit for music as well as the same ear for melody and creativity. We push each other to bring out the absolute best in what we write. If there is something not meshing with an instrumental, Maria will give me some insight into what he thinks would work and I will build from that.
Maria: Yeah and when I'm tracking vocals, KC will give me feedback or suggest a vocal melody that I didn't hear! Some of my favourite parts of the album are parts where we came up with them together on the spot while recording! KC is my musical soul mate! Minimal bullshit. MAXIMUM radness!
If you could name five albums that have influenced you throughout your life, which would they be and why?
KC: The Cure- Robert smith is an idol of mine. Love his writing and his hauntingly beautiful voice, no particular album but 'Just Like Heaven' is one of my favorite songs in the world. It's to hard for me to narrow this down but anything synthpop related from the 80s or film scores like from the movie The Crow, not the soundtrack, the actual film score. I love choir and dark ambient music. I am also a huge fan of the Deftones and anything pop culture related as well. Stranger Things even inspired some of the recent writing I have done!
Maria: KoRn's KoRn. First album I bought. Changed my life as I hadn't heard something like JD's voice before. This was the one that stared me down the path I'm on now. Deftones' Around The Fur. I got into these guys around the same time as KoRn and heavily influences my vocals and lyrics to this day. Chino, you're a babe! Tool's ALL OF IT. Again, I got into these guys around the same time as KoRn and Deftones. Maynards voice is haunting. His vocals are so powerful! Damien Rice's O and 9. His first two albums really helped steer me away from screaming my voice into retirement! Ever since these two albums, I started focusing more and more on singing instead of screaming/growls that I was doing before in metal bands. Florence and The Machine's Ceremonials. Ugh, what can I say about Florence Welch, her voice is AMAZING! This album and pretty much anything she sings on crushes me in the best way. This album really pushed me into wanting to become a better vocalist.
Your debut release was self-titled and released via your personal Bandcamp page. Sonic Erotica was ten tracks and had a few additional guests on it – Jerrica Bradshaw and Kasie Sheffield. Who are they? Do they perform in any bands of their own? Are they friends of yours?
KC: Yes, Jerrica did some guest vocals on two of our tracks from Sonic Erotica. She is mainly an acoustic guitarist/ singer that plays locally around our stomping grounds. As for Kasie, she is what we have now referred to as the mascot of Strvngers, hahahaha. She guest vocals on a couple songs and she is also the girl from our first video 'Nostalgia'. Rumor has it that we may or may not be releasing another video in the very near future and she may or may not be making another appearance in! We are grateful for the contributions both girls made on our first release!
Eight of the songs that were on Sonic Erotica managed to transfer to your newest self-titled album. Did those songs that were moved from Sonic Erotica to your latest get improved in any way, be it through mixing or mastering?
KC: Most definitely! We sent the eight tracks to a guy named Matt Mather from San Diego, California to remaster each track and beef them up! They came back sounding a lot fuller and meaner! Huge thanks to our label Negative Gain for hooking us up with that perk!
Maria: Yeah, the sound quality is night and day! We did the best we could when we released them ourselves, but the remastered tracks are a class above! Plus we went back and added some small parts that wish we had recorded after we released it. So it was rad to have them the way we envisioned them!
You new album is being released via Negative Gain Productions. How did you get signed to the label? Did you approach them or did they approach you? And how has it been working with the label?
KC: I owe it to one of our good friends in a band called Vore Aurora, which, you NEED to listen too! Her name's A'lizzabeth Barrett and she directed me towards Negative Gain, told us they might really dig our music! So, I sent Roger Jarvis a copy of our EP and within a couple hours we were already in the works for a contract! It was mind blowing.
KC & Maria: Being a part of the NGP mafia is one of the most amazing feelings i've ever experienced. The bonds with Micah and Roger and the other artists on the label is unlike anything we've ever had before. They have done nothing but great things for us in terms of marketing and putting out our first physical release! We couldn't be happier! Love ya NGP.
Tell me more about your sound design. You have 80s pop influences, dark electronics intertwined, and some rather emotional songs to boot. How did you come to the conclusion that this was the type of music you wanted to make?
KC: Good question, I have no idea. I write a WIDE variety of instrumentals, some make it, some don't. We don't really like to border ourselves as one particular sound. If it sounds dope and is within a reasonable vein of our spectrum, we will go with it. We like the option of having something for every listener. I think that's what makes us so easy to enjoy for people. There is a nice change of atmosphere from one track to the next. A song for every feeling, every day of the week, any occasion, hahahahha!
And who writes the lyrics in the band? Again, just like with the music, the lyrics to the songs seem to come from the heart. Do the lyrics you write reflect personal struggles or no?
Maria: I've written all the lyrics except for 'ShapeShifter'. On that one KC and I wrote it together! It was a newer song we wrote and I really liked some of the stuff he came up with as I could relate to what he wrote. I write from personal experiences, It's all I know! We've all been in a loving relationship or a shitty relation-shit! And these are just my experiences. KC's instrumentals really pull on my heart strings and they seem to bring out a lot of emotion out of me. I'm not trying to relive my torment but my lows in life make for good music!
The music video you put out for 'Nostalgia' was absolutely astounding and won over a lot of fans with praise coming loudly from the comments section. Who directed the music video? And who was the woman who starred in the music video?
Maria: That's so rad! The Witches and Warlocks that listen to our music are too kind! I directed the video along side my brother Matthew. He has played a HUGE part behind the scenes for Strvngers and deserves a lot of credit for our success. The woman in the video is our friend Kasie Sheffield. She's also on a lot of our promo art and most likely will be in future videos. She's rad!
You've also put out a cover of 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' by Cyndi Lauper. Do you have any other covers in the works? And do you consider Lauper a role model?
Maria: Cyndi Lauper is a BOSS ASS BITCH! Was then. Is now. All hail the 80's.
KC: Cyndi is my girl! Yes, I am a huge fan of hers and who doesn't love that song? As for other covers, yes, we have some ideas in the works but at the same time we aren't a cover band and don't feel the need to have a bunch of cover songs out just for likes and exposure. We really want to present ourselves as unique original musicians who can stand on their own without the backing of someone else's music.
And what's in store for the future of Strvngers? Do you have any tours, gigs, or future music in the works?
KC: This is our future! We are gonna keep grinding, writing, dancing, partying and making love to the music scene! We have a lot of great offers on the table for us right now and we are just gonna see what tomorrow brings! All is love!
Maria: I'm hoping that KC and I will eventually become closer and closer and change the band name to 'Friends'. Hahaha, We're just gonna keep making music from the heart and with Love. So, come what may...
And lastly I'd like to thank you for your time. Your album is brilliant. Strvngers is awesome. Here's wishing you the best in your career! Cheers!
KC: it was my pleasure! Thanks for listening to Strvngers!
Maria: You are too kind for taking the time to really listen to the album. Genuinely and sincerely, thanks! All is Love and I have so much to give.
Strvngers self-titled debut album is available for order on Bandcamp now. Go get it!
I would say that the most important thing in life and probably our biggest freedom is for people to be themselves. And if a person has the opportunity to express themselves, they shall not hesitate to do that for one second. And it's not a question of doing that in a creative or artistic form of art. So I think that would be my last words. If you can express yourself, DO IT!
Front 242, Jan 01 2003
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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