Since the early 2000s, New York City has helped inspire great band after great band. Any alt music fan is familiar with the names. Just to list a few: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, Vampire Weekend, Matt and Kim, American Authors, The Hold Steady, The Strokes, MGMT, and The National.
While not quite there yet, we think there’s another New York band that’s evolving and should be on your radar.
Their name is Stereo Off, a quintet from Brooklyn that’s blending electronic music with indie beats.
Why should you take notice? The band features a smooth vocalist, smart musicians, and a sound that can boost a music soundtrack or a night drive.
We think their lyrics say it all: “You’re a cobra with a pink bow/I’m a great white shark with a blindfold.”
Our gut tells us the blindfold will be coming off soon.
Here are three Stereo Off songs (all released in the past year) which show why this band is moving fast towards golden indie shores.
Somethings Happening – 1 year ago
Redesign – 3 months ago
Updated: Hotel Mirror from 2nd EP
For more about the band, here’s a little Q&A, which was e-mailed to the band and answered by vocalist Sebastian Marciano and bassist Niall Madden.
1. Can you give me the full names of each band member?
Sebastian Marciano on Vocals / Synth, Steve Williams on Lead Guitar / Backing Vox, Niall Madden on Bass / Rhythm Guitar, Bridget Fitzgerald on Synth/Viola, Darren Jones on Drums / Backing Vox.
2. When and where was the band formed?
New York City, late 2012, initially as Sebastian’s own project and mostly native to New York, the group members met through college friends and bandmates on their other projects. Percussionist Darren met Sebastian while working on technical consulting and audio engineering jobs together. They began auditioning guitar players when Steve volunteered, the lead guitarist and vocalist for the electro-folkpop duo Peculiar Gentleman, who knew Sebastian from music conservatory, when their respective first bands began playing shows together.
Close friend Niall, who moved to New York from London in recent years after playing guitar in several UK and US based bands prior joined to complete the lineup, co-writing the guitar and bass parts for Stereo Off songs, recording both to prep the sound of their studio work.
3. Is Sebastian the only vocalist? Where did he learn to sing?
On stage we do have backing vocals from Steve and Darren, but on the recordings it is mainly Sebastian. There are often layers of harmonies in the vocal takes, so we aim to recreate that live. We like to experiment and create different textures and I think that will be more prominent in our next release.
Sebastian went to university for music, as most of the band members did, but perhaps the roots come from college years singing 1.5 hour Masses in a chorus of 100 people in big concerts, along with musical theater, concert orchestra (I also played the sax at the time). Of course, I’m not sure how much of it stuck, but that was my introduction to vocals. And it was terrifying, in a great way.
4. Who are your influences? And who have you been compared to?
I think the variety of each band member is key here, we all have quite different tastes, but overall there indeed is an 80’s and 90’s influence in Stereo Off, a mix of bands such as Blur, Depeche Mode, Dire Straits, Hall & Oates, along with the likes of Phoenix, Daft Punk, Friendly Fires, the Faint and Justice in more recent years.
5. What direction are you taking your music?
We are perhaps influenced by similar sounds that a lot of current bands who mix synth and indie rock will currently quote you. So while we like to experiment with everything and inspect different directions in art and music, we also like to keep things basic, and keep production tight in a way that is essentially good music. We are big on playing around with specific guitar tones and drum sounds, so having more fun with integrating that into the live show and newer songs is what we are getting into now.
6. For some reason, I listen to Stereo Off your and keep thinking INXS and, in particular, their album Shabooh Shoobah. Am I hearing things that aren’t there, or are you fans of INXS?
Haha, sure, INXS is a great band, oddly enough I have heard that analogy once before though couldn’t see the connection. I guess the main connection is the 80s and 90s vibe in general, but its a cool comparison to have (plus they had loads of albums). We’ve noticed that everyone who hears our stuff has a different opinion, a different relation to things they already like, and so that’s gotta be a good thing when people compare us to bands they like.