STEREO OFF is an experienced, but a continuously sounds exploring electro pop trio based in Brooklyn, New York. Originally formed in 2012 as a five-piece, the current line-up features lead singer Sebastian Marciano, bassist Niall Madden and Bridget Fitzgerald adding unique discoViola chops which are evidenced in the moody string builds and arpeggios of
the band’s newer songs. The trio create and design electrical dream waves spiced with danceable melodies, catchy guitar riffs and analog keyboard accents. An ideal soundtrack
for urban experiences around the midnight hour. They just released their new, third, 5-track EP simply titled ‘III’. A collection of sensual and swinging vibrations, richly layered and ingeniously arranged. Music for adventurous romantics. Music for big city fantasies. Before joining the musicians for a Q & A let me introduce you to their music. Here’s one of the finest tracks on the new record…’Venir’
I guess we’re all in the mood now for a chat. Welcome Stereo Off…
When and where was the band conceived?
Niall: “The band started in Brooklyn when Sebastian looked at starting a new musical project. He wrote a couple of initial songs, but realized he needed a fuller sound, so he got in touch with various friends to form a five piece band initially. While the line up has had a few changes since and has become a three-piece at the moment, the band is still based here.”
What’s the story behind the group’s name?
Niall: “Typical start where bands throw around names to each other and see what sticks. Sebastian kept using names with audio terms in them, and I added the ‘Off’. It has multiple meanings, as all band names should.”
When did you know: “This is it! This is how we want to sound”?
Niall/Sebastian: ‘That probably hasn’t happened yet, but more recently we found our own personal space in some of the styles we love and that feels good. The new disc is the best example of that so far, but as a band of course you always want the sound to continue evolving and enjoying the process. Making a stamp is good and then you can change
colors in the palette.’
The band’s press photos show two different looks, a ‘chic’ one and a ‘rock’ one.
Is ‘Stereo Off’ a band with two faces?
Niall: “The band has contrasting and overlapping tastes so that makes sense. I rock more. Sebastian is more chic, ha!”
Your music and image reminds me of the British New Romanticism bands (Visage,
Duran Duran, Culture Club etc) back in the Eighties. Are you familiar with that scene?
Sebastian: “We’re very familiar with that scene, some of it is just the general influence
of growing up on 80s music, while other parts are a true homáge to those styles.”
Who plays the wonderful saxophone parts on ‘Sunsetting’, lead single of the new EP?
Sebastian: “That’s James McElewaine, one of my professors at university with a lot of disco and rock credits as producer, player and arranger. Him playing on ‘Sunsetting’ is so meta and important to us, saxophone being the first instrument I picked up as a kid, and then wanting to recreate all those 80s yacht rock sounds. At my audition for music conservatory in college, one of my demos was a hip-hop piece with reversed sax samples from a Sáde track and Jim was one of the professors judging us along with the head of jazz and composition departments. Anyway I was admitted and learned so much from James as a producer and professor, and now to have him blast those 80s feels on ‘Sunsetting‘ the way it really should sound. That’s a ‘virtuous cycle‘ as they say, and a dream come true.”
Are the five tracks on the new record related somehow or five totally different pieces of music and sonic experiences?
Sebastian: ‘All related, and for this EP we were going for a certain vibe. Albums, like a movie or game, might be something like ‘world building‘, a specific place we want to exist in, but you have to travel around to really enjoy that world, so we enjoy each track for itself as well.”
What’s the idea behind the EP’s sleeve?
Sebastian:”Niall had a plan that our first three records specifically would be EPs, that they would all be five songs, and all have minimalist graphics on the front. This EP is brighter, sonically, so I wanted white with pastel colors on the cover. Three stripes are iconic: the flags of most countries, Black Flag (the band) and so on. There are three of us, so we all picked a color, I sketched it up and Bridget refined it with software.”
What big name producer would you really want to work with if you had the opportunity?
Sebastian: “If Butch Walker and Ric Ocasek produced us or anyone else, and then Lifelike remixed it, it would be one of the best records ever made.”
Do so see yourselves as a studio band rather than a live band?
Sebastian: “We really like to play around and overdub a lot in the studio, but then we extend that to the live set and have fun with it.”
In what way is the Big Apple an inspiration for your music?
Niall: “Because it’s a city full of inspiration and the good, the bad and the ugly.”
What genre of movie would you write the soundtrack for?
Niall/Sebastian: “We’ve done a lot of short movie soundtracks, both as a band and as players separately. Bridget scored the short thriller ‘The Return‘ last year, recorded by Sebastian, then he wrote the music for the zombie slasher ‘Z48‘. We want to do ambient horror films but our ultimate would be to re-score Blade Runner if Tarantino directed it, and it was shot in 1935.”
Is playing in a band actually ‘the best job in the world’?
Niall: “No. It’s a shit job, it pays shit too. But you still love it and forget that it’s a job.”
New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets?
Niall: “New Jersey Nets! Seriously, that’s the last time I’ve gone to an NBA game. Bridget and Sebastian don’t know anything about ‘the sports movies’, as they call them.”
The xx or The Human League?
Niall:“Good match up. The Human League have some strong classics, and The xx are great too, will have to check out their new album.”
Niall/Sebastian: “A full length album and shows on the East coast. As for local shows, check us out at Friends and Lovers in Bushwick on Saturday, February 25th.”
Thank you for this interview. May the road rise with Stereo Off.
Here’s the brand new EP ‘III’ in full…