Interview with Jordan Waraksa of Milwaukee’s band: SONOf

Interviews, Music
SONOf
Photo credit: SONOf

By Monica Ng

It’s a new world. Following someone on Instagram isn’t tacky or weird (unless of course, it’s weird). In fact, it’s a great way for people to connect with others locally and across the globe – and for musicians, it represents free promo and a chance to grow their audience. Had SONOf not followed me, I probably wouldn’t have known about their music.  I love it when musicians post their video clips on social media. You get a chance to sample a variety of music just by clicking – it’s like someone bringing a wine taste-testing right to your door. That would be awesome. Did I just start a new trend?!

Contact

www.sonof.us

IG: @sonof.music

FB: sonof sonof

About

From Milwaukee, USA, Jordan Waraksa, Nick Waraksa, Chuck Lawton and Benjamin Schaefer are the guys behind SONOf.  Their project was created out of their desire to explore and experiment with electronic music this past decade, as they shifted away from acoustic music. Their self-titled EP was born during the COVID pandemic.

Their Music

SONOf EP (2021) – Stoaway, Ligh+ and bTT.

Brume (2020) – Single

Interview

Me: Jordan, thanks so much for taking the time for this interview.  Congratulations, on the release of SONOf’s new EP!  I love the artistic touch that you guys put into everything, including your song titles (example, use of “+” instead of a “t” at the end of light). In my opinion, you guys have mastered your craft and created a successful project that’s unique and has an intangible transformative power. When I listen to “Ligh+”, I’m floating in an alternate universe where I feel this darkness and uncertainty about myself, but compelled to stay and explore that side of me.

There’s not a lot about you guys online.  Can you share how your project came alive, how you chose your name and what your name represents?

Jordan:  My brother Nick, from little on, has always been into getting the newest toys.  At some point in 2019, a synthesizer was brought to a rehearsal for our other project “The Vitrolum Republic”.   Coming from a childhood of classical music and a band of acoustic instrumentation, it was thrilling to step into a totally different area of sound exploration for our song writing. We all started to get new electronic gear, pushing each other further down the path of pedals, amps, and synths.  I knew nothing other than how to plug them in.  I believe the best creativity comes from limited tools, and an openness to try and fail.  We got to a point during the last days of Dec. 2019 where we converted Benjamin’s house to a recording studio and made 6 demo tracks over the course of a long weekend.  Something poured out of us, that we didn’t know was always there.  Something unique and exciting had been captured.  We slowly edited the tracks and then they sat on the shelf for a few months while we all were busy with our other personal projects (film making, photography, woodworking).  Then the world changed in March 2020.  We were just about to go into tech week / dress rehearsals for a live performance with the Milwaukee Ballet.  Everything was cancelled, so we moved all our gear back to our separate homes for what was the start of lockdown.  We each set up a home studio to keep the momentum alive.

I had just gotten back from Mexico City incredibly inspired by the architecture and artists I met.  My wife Cora speaks fluent Spanish and we came up with a name together.   I thought about what the four of us had in common.  We are all sons – sons of fathers, sons of mothers, sons of… In the Spanish dialect “son” translates to “THEY ARE” and also means “SOUND”.  SONOf seemed to be so specific to us, but also endlessly relatable to everyone.

Me: I’m glad you guys were able to keep the momentum going for your music and I would have never guessed about the origin of your band name – very nice. I mentioned to you that it’s hard to search for SONOf on music platforms and YouTube. What’s the best way for people to find your music?

Jordan:  Well, we’re just getting started. Hopefully the more clicks we get, the easier it will be to find us. 

Please visit:

SPOTIFY:    https://open.spotify.com/artist/7Kc9aE77DbUdlPiRhcqOdP?si=04Dh0sbDRTG7AU4NvimUzQ&dl_branch=1

YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBXIewbimhdV1yP1wvumHzQ

Website:      https://www.sonof.us

BANDCAMP:   https://sonof-music.bandcamp.com/album/sonof

Me:  According to your website, your music genre is FolkTronica. I’ve heard of folk and electronica but can’t quite grasp the combination.  Because I’m very curious, I have been trying to dissect electronic music lately.  I asked you if your music is completely electronic, but you explained that you “start with recording acoustic instruments, but often put them through pedals and effects to explore the sound.”  You mentioned that your previous project “The Vitrolum Republic” was completely acoustic instrumentation. How are you guys finding the journey of changing music styles?

Jordan:  It’s a fun exploration to have one foot in both worlds – really trying to see what can be found through the blend.  The genre of one’s music is a hot topic.  Choosing the wrong labels could mean never finding your true audience for your music.  So, I think there may be a better genre, but it doesn’t exist on platforms these days.

Me: I agree that some music is hard to label. For you guys, maybe “TranscendingTronica” because your music is surreal. I am amazed that musicians all over the world have learned to adapt to the COVID pandemic way of life and have either learned to produce music on their own or produce music remotely by exchanging electronic files.  On your website, I read that you guys “created this EP entirely bypassing digital files between [your] homes during the 2020 quarantine”.  What other challenges have you encountered during this pandemic with respect to your music?

Jordan:  Well, being in the same room at the same time has been a part of our music for a long time.  To completely throw out that factor, opened up a world of creativity through the time in which it took to add parts and try ideas – you could take 8 mins or 8 days. It was like an ancient game I did while in art school called “exquisite corpse”, where each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed.

Me: I can totally see how your game analogy works – a creative exercise in itself. You guys were obviously busy putting together your EP during quarantine. What are your plans post-pandemic?

Jordan:  Planning to release a full album in 2022.  We are currently finishing the shooting and production of music films for our self-titled EP. Check out the videos on our YouTube page, we’re super proud of the caliber of filmmaking on these!

Me: Your videos are incredible. I like to loop the video for Ligh+. You and Nick are actually the second set of sibling musicians that I have interviewed. Twins, Alex and Thomas Arthur of Toronto’s Hideout Legacy are the other ones. Working with a sibling is such a rare and special thing. I don’t think that I could work with my sisters. What’s it like for you guys to work together?

Jordan:  We know each other’s tendencies.  When at our best, we push each other beyond those points to make something better, but also make music for each other.  We have different styles, but we understand where each of us is coming from. I think it makes the collaboration dynamic. 

Me:  So great that you guys can push each other and appreciate your differences. You’re super nice and you can sing and play instruments. It never surprises me that musicians are multi-talented, because playing instruments is a left and right brain thing.

Now, I’m going to confess that I’m a sucker for beautifully crafted wood furniture. Your wood sculpting and furniture making skills are beyond impressive. I need to buy one of your stunning pieces.  I’ll wait until the CAD-USD conversion rate is good lol. You mentioned in our chat that you and Nick are classically trained musicians.  In one of your posts, I saw that you play violin. Do you play any other instruments?  And do you have other hobbies/interests that occupy your time?

Jordan: Haha! I’d love to make you something.  I play a lot of instruments besides violin, just happy I started with the hardest one when I was a kid.  I am a sculptor, and make wood furniture for a living for my company FIDDLEHAMMER.

Pictured above: Bellaphone and bench.

Me: Violin is a challenging instrument – it’s quite a feat to master it. Someone told me that parents of novice violinists and drummers have it the worst and I can appreciate why!

Here’s my usual “get to know you” interview question – if you had to pick three – who would you say are your top 3 favourite musicians?

Jordan:  I think I’d like to name 30, but here goes:

Thom Yorke

George Harrison

Jeff Buckley

Me: I’ve heard of Thom Yorke, but had no idea that he is the leading man of Radiohead until I took a listen to his music. I’ll have to take a listen to the others. One thing that I don’t understand with electronic music…are you able to structure a live performance?

Jordan:  Yes, we are hoping to perform live in the near future.  There is a bit of tech involved, but it will be wonderful to perform all at once together.  We hope to really connect with those who find themselves in our music. 

Me: Well, I think everyone is anxious for this crazy pandemic to end and to be able to enjoy live concerts again. Jordan, thanks again for your time and enthusiasm. It’s been great getting to know you and learning more about SONOf. Everyone – if you haven’t already, give this fantastic band a listen. And don’t forget to show your support by buying, streaming, sharing their music, and buying merch and show tickets. This applies to all musicians. Remember, no musicians = silent world. And to you furniture lovers out there – you can own a beautiful piece of timeless wooden furniture by Fiddlehammer.

Before we wrap things up, is there anything else you’d like to share?

Jordan:  Thank You!

We do all of the work ourselves. We haven’t outsourced a single thing outside our quartet.  The recording, mastering, photography, filming, editing…our vision has potency.  It comes from the heart.  Much love to all who read this, thank you for listening to our music!

—End—

Video for SONOf’s “Ligh+”

Interview with Al Capo of Canadian band: Stuck on Planet Earth

canadian music, Interviews


Get in touch with Stuck on Planet Earth

www.stuckonplanetearth.com
Instagram: @stuckonplanetearth
Facebook: Stuck on Planet Earth

!!!ALERT: STUCK ON PLANET EARTH’S DEBUT ALBUM RELEASE DATE IS JUNE 26, 2020!!!

Photo credit: Stuck on Planet Earth

By Monica Ng

Phoenix Theatre

November 22, 2019.  That was the day I was first exposed to Canadian band, Stuck on Planet Earth. Stuck on Planet Earth was Moist’s supporting band. I have been a fan of Moist since I was about 18 years old and I am a huge supporter of Canadian music.  It’s always great to discover new artists and music. I even picked up a free nifty Stuck on Planet Earth logo sticker at the merch table. Recently, I took the sticker on my forest run. Pictures from the photo shoot are pictured above. I thought it would be suitable for this post, as it would appear that the astronaut was indeed stuck on planet earth!

I was just polishing up my interview with Neon Dreams when I caught one of Stuck on Planet Earth’s live streams on Instagram. It was a lot of fun because Adam and Al had the chance to answer all of my questions during the stream. I decided to reach out to Al about participating in my blog interview. I was totally honest with Al and wrote that I was just discovering their band and would need to do some research in order to prepare my interview.  Further, I told him that I am not a professional writer but write for the love of it. So no pressure right? Nah.

About

Stuck on Planet Earth is an alternative rock band based in Toronto.  The band is made up of three members – Al Capo (vocals, songwriter and bass), Adam Bianchi (vocals and guitar) and Andrew Testa on drums.  The “3As” band! The band has been playing together since 2007.

Anthem Records recently signed up them up for a record deal.  The record label represents bands like Rush and Big Wreck. Stuck on Planet Earth will be releasing their first album titled, Beautiful Nowhere on June 26, 2020. Prior to this album, they mostly released singles. Their repertoire of songs includes: Higher than the Drugs, Rising, Permanent, I Want it Now, Just to Have You, Gone, Another, Lights So Low, Stay Away, Alive and so many more…

Stuck on Planet Earth
Photo credit: Stuck on Planet Earth

Interview

Me: Al, you are a singer, songwriter and bass player. I find this very impressive – as I cannot sing, write songs, or play any instruments. I am so honoured to have a chance to interview you.  From what I gather so far, you are super-charismatic and a “straight-to-the-point” kind of person.  Adam and Andrew – you guys are very talented as well! You guys are all so well-spoken – I am enjoying your live streams/chats. Al, I appreciate and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to participate in my interview.

What I remember most about your band from the concert was your enthusiasm.  You guys were genuinely excited to be on stage and there was definitely a positive vibe. The one bad thing was the quality of the sound at Phoenix Theatre.  A friend warned me about the issue.  The vibration of the music made it difficult to hear any lyrics and the guitar and drum sounds were a bit muddled for both yours and Moist’s performance.  I basically had to stand near the back to have better sound. That might be the reason that I wasn’t completely hooked on your music already.

Al, thanks for directing me to a Podcast your band did with Michael McDonnell (@allaboutthesong – Episode #68). You told Michael that at the start of your band’s musical career, people were telling you that you sung/played out of tune. But you guys practiced and persisted. Music is obviously a passion for you guys and you have been playing since high school.  Because becoming a musician is not a traditional path, I ask you the following question – what was the “defining” moment when you knew that you wanted to pursue a career as a musician and did anyone encourage or try to discourage you?

Al: I’m not so sure there was a defining moment. I think it was just the passion and desire to create, write songs, and perform live… once I really delved into it, I knew that no matter what, I always wanted music to play a big part in my life. Like in anything, once our band started to make a name for itself- it was like “oh okay, maybe we can actually do this”. Of course along the way there have been people who have not favoured my career path, but to be honest, I’m not the type of person who really ever cared what others thought of me. I truly believe in life you’re supposed to carve out your own path. 

Me: I love your don’t care attitude and totally agree about finding ones own path in life. Any advice for those considering pursuing a career as a musician?

Al:  I usually don’t like to give advice, because there isn’t a rule book that tells you how to pursue a career in music. However, I think one has to be willing to get knocked down, and have really thick skin. I also think staying true to your authentic self is very important. If you can remain true to who you are, while creating your art – that to me, is more important than any accolades. 

Me: I have to ask because I am curious and cannot find the information anywhere – how did you guys decide on your band name? To be honest, when I first heard your band’s name, it took me a long time to remember it – I just knew it was something about planet Earth. But, when I think about your name now, I am reminded that so much happens in our lives and this planet called Earth, so to be “stuck” here may be a bad thing?!

Al: We wanted our band name to be a statement. A name that could make someone feel something, whether that’s a curious feeling, or an understanding. Also, given the chaotic ridden times we’re currently living in – it seems our band name because it’s more relevant as each day passes. 

Me:  Yes, I remember you mentioned in one of your live streams that the astronaut in your Higher Than The Drugs video was roaming around in a deserted place – which is similar to our empty streets post-COVID-19. The pandemic has definitely taken a toll on the world.  You were probably performing a lot before then. Shortly after the Moist concert, I saw that you guys were playing at The Drake. I wanted to catch your SOLD-OUT show but didn’t get a chance. What is a typical COVID-day for you? How has COVID-19 impacted your life?

Al: Before the pandemic we were either in the studio recording, or touring and playing shows. Although all of our summer touring plans have been cancelled, the positive out of the situation is that it’s really allowed us to focus on our social media presence, and given us the opportunity to connect with our supporters and fans. 

Me: Just to get to know you a bit better – aside from music, what are some other hobbies/interests?

Al: I like to make art @kid_capo, [Instagram account], I love basketball, hiking, and love hanging out with my family and close friends. 

Me: That’s amazing! You recently mentioned your artistic talents in a live stream. I can’t say that I’m surprised that you have more talents. I will definitely check out your art. Generally speaking, what drives you and keeps you going both in life and your music career?

Al: To me, I’ve always been driven by the notion that we can’t take anything with us when we leave this place. Making music and art is my imprint on the world, and I love that sentiment – as morbid or beautiful as that is, depending on how you choose to look at it. 

Me: As I am getting older, I too have come to the same realization -that we can’t leave earth with any physical possessions, so I am all about life experiences versus material items. I would much rather go hiking or kayaking and surround myself with nature than drive around in a fancy car. How do you manage your stress day-to-day and when touring?

Al: Haha, I’m not that great at stress management. I’m a bit of a control freak with a lot of OCD tendencies. Luckily, Stuck has a great team around us who help us manage all the stresses that come along with the lifestyle. 

Me: I believe that what music people listen to can provide a lot of insight into who they are, so I ask this question of everyone. I know that I asked you guys this during your live stream, but I have to admit that I was only half-listening because I was working at the same time –oops sorry! Who are your top 3 favourite musicians/bands?

Al: I don’t think I could ever narrow it down to just 3 – but I can tell you some of my big musical inspirations: The Police, Cage The Elephant, Nirvana, Jimmy Eat World, Killing Joke, The Raconteurs, the Gypsy Kings … the list could go on. 

Me: I haven’t heard of one-third of those musicians and will definitely check out some of their music. I’m sure the life of a musician is exciting.  What is the craziest thing a fan ever did for you?

Al: I don’t know about crazy – but when we first started touring the US, we had a rough go on a few dates, and a fan decided to put us up in a hotel, where we could get some real rest and recovery time from all the floors we had been sleeping on. So not crazy, but nicest thing. Very grateful to that fan to this day. 

Me: In the Podcast with Michael McDonnell, you talked about your band working together and being on the same page; and being straight when working towards your common goal. Whereas, other bands often break apart possibly due to resentment of one member (ex. one person does all the work).  Did you ever have conflict with Adam and Andrew, where you couldn’t agree on a particular direction for your music? And if so, how did you overcome the obstacle?

Al: We love like brothers, and at times fight like brothers. I think over time, we have just learned our individual roles in this band, so we don’t step on each other too much. We usually overcome conflict by talking very openly and honestly and don’t hold anything back.

Me: That’s great that you can be open with each other and not let anger manifest itself. On that note, you are known for writing and singing about the raw blunt truth of life. Your band plays songs about topics that most people would shy away from – like in your song, Another. It’s actually one of my favourite songs. The lyrics go, “I am thinking about another when I’m with you.”

I studied sociology and psychology in university and mostly explored concepts of human nature.  While it may be normal to think of someone else while being with another, no one vocalizes it.  Correction – no one except you guys! What type of feedback have you received from friends, family, or fans about your lyrics in general? Has anyone told you that you are singing about their life?

Al: A lot of people have told us that our lyrics really resonate with them in many different ways emotionally. That’s why we do this, to connect with people through our music – we’re very grateful for the privilege of being able to communicate through our music. 

Me: From what I gather –  over the years you have been releasing singles for budgetary reasons as well as allowing people to enjoy one song at a time.  You also mentioned that when albums are produced, some songs get lost on an album. How do you feel now that your first album is about to be released? Do you think that some of the songs will ‘get lost’?

Al: I think we’re at a point now where our style and sound is very focused. We know which direction we’re headed sonically, and all we can hope, is that it doesn’t get lost. 

Me: Can you give your fans a hint of what “vibe” your overall album will have?

Al: Beautiful Nowhere is a very dynamic record – it’s all rooted in alternative rock; it’s vibey, dancey, and anthemic. 

Me:  I’m so glad that I stumbled onto your Instagram live stream because I had a chance to re-visit your music. I am hooked now and can’t get enough. Seriously looking forward to listening to the new songs on your album and catching you guys in concert.  I have already pre-ordered your digital album 🙂 I wish you the best of luck with your new album.  Thank you again for agreeing to this interview and your time.

Everyone out there – check out Stuck on Planet Earth’s music. They are Canadian and TOTALLY rockin’!!! Before wrapping up this interview, do you have anything else that you wish to share with your fans?

Al: Our debut album Beautiful Nowhere is our everywhere on June 26th! 

—End—

Here are a few of my favourite songs:

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