|ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS ASTRONAUTS OF ANTiQUiTY
ONE GiANT LEAPI know that it is only music, but the mysterious, spacey pop duo dubbed ASTRONAUTS OF ANTIQUITY attack songwriting and production as if it were the scientific endeavor that the title of their CD – ROCKET SCIENCE FOR DUMMIES – suggests. This is not to say that their mixture of electro lounge, reggae and trip-hop is a studied affair. In fact, the material on ‘ROCKET…’displays a sort of pop music sophistication that the music industry hasn’t heard since DAVE STEWART and ANNIE LENNOX stood in the middle of a cow field wearing matching business suits. Lead singer INDIA’s breathy, assured jazz vocals soar ethereally above and equally compelling mix spearheaded by guitarist/husband BRADD RHYAN. “We’re two different individuals with many different layers to our relationship obviously due to the fact that we are married and are musical partners. When we sit down to write a tune together, it’s a wonderful collaborative – whatever our muse tells us to do we go there. That can be really exciting and fantastic. We help each other a lot as far as song craft. There are times when it gets a little too heated but that has more to do with artistic opinions. It can be a very passionate process creating music together. Through that challenge hopefully good music is born. ” says INDIA.
iNDiA OF ASTRONAUTS OF ANTiQUiTY
TALKS TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT THEiR CD ROCKET SCiENCE FOR DUMMiES
WORKiNG WiTH HER HUSBAND BRAD RHYAN
AND BALANCiNG A LOVE/MUSiC LiFE
iNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSH
ROCKWIRED spoke to INDIA over the phone. Here is how it went.
How do you feel about ROCKET SCIENCE FOR DUMMIES now that it’s out there for everyone to hear?
We feel very proud of it. It is a collective combination of a few years of hard work. It was definitely a labor of love. We are continuing to breathe life into this project. We recently put out a video for the song EVERYWHERE. At the same time we are also feeling like we need to move on a little bit and start writing for a future piece of work. It’s all good!
With the music industry so indefinable right now, what do you think makes this project stand out?
Bradd and I feel that we have some good solid tunes on “Rocket Science for Dummies”. I think that is one thing that in some way sets us apart from a lot of the jazzy, electro-lounge music that is out right now. A lot of the music in that particular genre has to do with vibing it out which is beautiful, but the song writing in my humble opinion sometimes takes a back seat. I think AoA in that respect stands out because of our emphasis on song crafting. As far as the music industry being indefinable, it really is. It’s like the wild, wild West right now. I think that our songwriting really speaks for itself and I hope that other people can really hear that too.
How did music begin for you?
For myself, it started when I was a child. I grew up in a family of artists in all different kinds of mediums. My older sister is a jazz singer and I really looked up to her and idolized her. That inspired me to move forward. I took piano lessons and wrote my first song when I was sixteen. I was embedded in that whole culture of art when I was really young. It all probably started in utero for that matter.
Before ASTRONAUTS OF ANTIQUITY, was there a succession of musical projects for you?
It’s been an interesting road so far just observing over the years how we have morphed up until now. Before we met Bradd had his own solo career as a singer songwriter and I was singing in a jazzy / folk trio. When we began working with each other we started out as an indie-folk rock band. We began adding elements of reggae rock due to being huge fans of THE POLICE and wanted to incorporate that influence into our sound. Artists like BILL LASWELL and the whole Asian underground inspired us to continue our musical exploration and development. Our AoA.1 album reflects that period. Through each phase of our lives, our music changed as a result.
This almost sounds like an ANNIE LENNOX-DAVE STEWART-type partnership except the two of you are still in love.
Very much in love! …I’ve actually met ANNIE-
Oh really! Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!
Oh are you a fan?
I love the EURYTHMICS!
They are awesome. ANNIE is so dramatic. She is such an artist. She is a beautiful soul. I had this friend that was really close to her and we all met in her hotel room. She is a very lovely woman, just an incredible artist. Have you ever seen her live?
I did back in 2003 at the MACKEY AUDITORIUM in Boulder.
She is an amazing performer. I became very inspired by watching her on stage. I’ve seen her a couple of times and she is really intense. She is so committed to her music.
But we’ve got to remember that this interview is about ASTRONAUTS OF ANTIQUITY.
Well she is an inspiration.
And it does sort of morph into my next question about being a musical partnership as well as a romantic one. How easy or difficult is that to do?
We’re two individuals with many different layers to our relationship obviously due to the fact that we are married and are musical partners. When we sit down to write a tune together, it’s a wonderful collaborative – whatever our muse tells us to do we go there. That can be really exciting and fantastic. We help each other a lot as far as song craft. There are times when it gets a little too heated but that has more to do with artistic opinions. It can be a very passionate process creating music together. Through that challenge hopefully good music is born.
What kind of place are you coming from as a songwriter and what kind of place do you think he is coming from that makes it so passionate?
When you share the same muse it is special. It’s like both of us decorating our new cool apartment and then living in it enjoying what we’ve created together. It’s inspiring. Bradd is a master at his instrument and writes all his ideas from guitar. I create on the keyboards. Sometimes it takes an extra push to synthesize the two methods to bring a cohesive piece of work.
The spirituality behind the recording is easy to hear - talk about that. Was it there before the recording of this CD or was it something that happened as a result?
When BRADD and I met we were both into Eastern Philosophy. I was raised Catholic and I came from a big Catholic family. I was disillusioned by Western religion and was naturally drawn to Eastern Philosophy. At the same time I had met BRADD who had recently lived in an ashram for a short time. He had this burning desire to find a spiritual path that resonated with him. He came out into the world again refreshed and ready to play music. Spirituality is a very personal experience and it’s artificial to try and exclude that from the musical expression. Did you know God is a DJ?
Talk about some of the musical contributors to this project. Who are they and what do you feel each of them brings to the table both musically and personality-wise?
TAYLOR RYAN plays keyboards and also produced “ROCKET SCIEN FOR DUMMIES”. His mind is so filled up with ideas and thoughts. He’s an avid reader and is incredibly creative and gloriously opinionated. He is also a connoisseur of music from old school up until modern times. He brings all of that to the table and it enriches the AoA experience. Making this album was an intense process and TAYLOR was completely committed to it. There are a couple of new players in the group. We added DJ MOL (FREDO MOL). He is amazing with the turntables. We brought him in to bring that element into our music. He’s won awards for his work. DAN WALSH on drums is somewhat new to the band. He shares our interest in Eastern Philosophy so on that end we really click. He is an all-around master at rhythm. He never ceases to amaze us. He is really funny too. MARIO is the bass player. He holds a really deep groove. He’s been with us for a bout five months and performing with him is just fantastic. I think he was that missing ingredient that we needed in our live show. They are all very talented and creative individuals that are seriously in it.
You’ve hinted about the challenges of getting the sound of the CD onto a live stage. Would you like to talk about that some more?
The sound that you hear on the CD has many different layers and can be challenging when you are playing live. We have spoken about hiring our own soundman that understands the nuances of getting it right on stage.
From this CD, what musical moments stand out for you the most and why?
BEAUTIFUL FATE sounds on the surface to be such a simple lovely tune with a beautiful positive message. Underneath is a complex and finely crafted piece. It reminds me a little of RADIOHEAD. I also love the song EVERYWHERE. I very much enjoy singing it. There is a joy that emanates from it for me.
At the top of the interview you mentioned that you were anxious to work on material for a new project. What sort to textures would you like to explore with a new album?
In general I’d like to have it a little more stripped down. I definitely want to stay in the jazzy electro lounge sound but maybe not so heavily produced. I love “Rocket Science for Dummies” but I’m looking forward to moving on to something new when the time is right.
What would you like someone to come away with after they’ve heard this album?
I would like them to feel inspired, to walk away with a little something to put in their pocket and save it for a rainy day. Hopefully we have given them something to ponder about in context to their own lives. There lies the treasure.