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?!
FB: sonof sonof
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.
SONOf EP (2021) – Stoaway, Ligh+ and bTT.
Brume (2020) – Single
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.
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:
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!