Dead Astronauts have just released their debut full-length album „Constellations” – available via Bandcamp.
So what would you recommend me to do if I was trapped inside a dream I couldn’t escape from?
Jared: Find a cozy corner of the dreamscape, nuzzle up with a sexy lady, and live your days out… wait, am I in a dream now?
Hayley: Ha! Try your best not to conjure up any demons and focus on creating a beautiful landscape for you to live within for the rest of your unconscious life.
What are Dead Astronauts, basically? Is it just a synth duo or is it a bigger artistic project? What’s the deal with the wallpapers?
Jared: It’s both, and more. It started off as a side project for myself, then evolved to encompass Hayley, then it evolved even further to include 20-30 visual artists from around the world. That list now includes animators, illustrators, writers etc. If you want to keep it simple though, „synth pop duo” works just fine. Officially Hayley and I are „the band”, but there are many moving parts that assist us, including the aforementioned artists, but also the label we are with, Telefuture, and many others. We wanted to approach it this way so it’s not just an audio experience, but you have all these visuals that help compliment the theme and mood. The obvious next steps will be video, so we are excited to add that to the overall experience.
Hayley: Jared’s absolutely right, it’s a band (albeit of two people) making sounds and reaching out to artists to produce and showcase some art alongside it. Jared’s background in illustration definitely had a big impact on how we saw Dead Astronauts becoming more than a collection of songs. I’ve always thought of video and image as equally vital elements to the Dead Astronauts aesthetic, especially when daydreaming about live performances, ha ha.
There’s obviously something going on with the deer women…
Jared: Yeah she’s got some stuff going on. You’ll see a bit of an origin story for her here, but she’s become a sort of mascot for us over the last 2 years. Glenn Arthur and myself created her a few years back, and she sort of stuck with us along the journey. It’s been great to see how she has evolved and been interpreted by various artists.
Hayley: Persephone is the mascot who came up when Jared first started the band. So no, she is not modeled after me in any way. 😉
How did you find Hayley Stewart?
Jared: I met her (online) through a record label I had done some design work and branding for a few years earlier. I was looking for vocal accompaniment for our first song/single „Favorite Lover”, and had asked her to try out some ideas. She had something to me in just a matter of days, I loved the sound of what she had done and shortly after she became a core member of Dead Astronauts.
Hayley: Jared approached me through someone I had previously done vocals for every now and then, asking if I would like to sing on a track that was essentially completed by then. I was ecstatic to hear that Jared was happy with the result, and when he asked me to join the band, I immediately accepted. I really liked the style of Dead Astronauts and it seemed like a great opportunity to work on something a little bit more legitimate than my usual 2-minute Soundcloud demos.
Jared, you’re from Seattle, Hayley is from Toronto – I know the Internet has made the world smaller, but how do you work together? You just send her some demos and she sends vocals back to you? Hayley is also credited for production on your website.
Jared: Funny enough, I only really do a very small percentage of the production for Dead Astronauts. I’ll lay down initial ideas just as a frame work for my vocals, but then I actually send vocals to Hayley, and she either engineers the song around them, or she will have an existing idea, and I’ll write lyrics and sing vocals around that. We toss each song back and forth multiple times until we are happy with it. I give guidance along the way, but the actual core production on each song is done by Hayley.
Hayley: Ha ha yeah, we’re a bit of the opposite of the typical boy/girl synth duo. Jared really concentrates on the songwriting, vocals, even atmosphere, while I work on the production. Of course, as he mentioned, we have to collaborate to make sure we end up with something we both feel good about. When it comes to making tracks together, usually I send out a broadcast link for Jared to listen to and we chat on Skype as I work. Then if we need new vocal takes or anything, he can do them then and there, send them over, and I pop them in. Sometimes it does involve independently working and getting big chunks done at a time, but for the most part, we build up the songs together.
Your songs are insanely catchy, yet there is some gloomy feeling to them, e.g. in “B Side”. You didn’t want to make just another 80s happy record, did you?
Jared: We both really love the darker side of the 80s, so we didn’t want to make a typical 80s inspired pop album, we really wanted to make it our own. I wouldn’t say we create „pop” music, I wouldn’t say we create 80s music either, but I’d say we create music „influenced” by both.
Hayley: I think pop is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, but at the same time I’m also very interested in incorporating dark ambience. Dead Astronauts, for me, was a perfect place to work with 80s sounds but in a more contemporary context, where it’s not too sweet. “B Side” was really the first exploration of the sort of blend of synth pop and subtle gloom, the latter aspect being something Jared usually helps steer me towards. I have been known to send over demos that are pretty glittery from time to time.
When can we expect the full album? How will it vary from the already known material? Will there be more moments like Hayley’s backing vocals in the final chorus of “In Disguise”? (that’s my favourite moment on the entire EP)
Jared: The full album will have a bit more depth to it, both production wise and vocal wise. Each song was written and produced at different times over the last 2 years, so you can really hear a progressing from one song to the next. There will be songs that feature Hayley on vocals primarily, and songs that feature myself. We tried to mix it up, while keeping it very much „Dead Astronauts”. And agreed, that part of „In Disguise” is a great moment, still to this day that song really hits this nice balance between „pop” and this dark side of Dead Astronauts.
(The full „Constellations” album was released October 16, 2014. The album is available as a Deluxe Edition CD Box Set, CD, and digital download through Telefuture Records.)
Hayley: The new album has been sitting under our belts for quite a while and we’re thrilled to have it released in a matter of weeks. As Jared said, there really is an evolution through the tracks – a slight change of style here and there and even a little shift in era. I’m so flattered – the new album definitely has a moment like that, so don’t worry! We just hope that people will enjoy what we’ve made as much as we’ve enjoyed making it.
You and Perturbator seem to love each other. He remixed all your songs and you did the absolutely fantastic track „Minuit” on his „Dangerous Days”. What’s the story behind your collaboration?
Jared: We’d both been fans of his for a while, and I can’t quite recall how it came about, but we got in touch with him about doing a single remix for us for our EP. We loved what he did so much, we asked him to remix all 4 tracks, and to our surprise, he agreed. Perturbator has been a pleasure to work with, he is always happy to collaborate and he’s an all around great guy. Hopefully soon we’ll be working with him again. And yeah, „Minuit” is a great song, we were thrilled to be featured on his album, an honor I’d say.
Hayley: I’ll admit to being a pretty big fangirl of his. I have no idea how we got him to do all those remixes, considering that we only had one song released when we got in touch with him. But, I guess he didn’t hate working with us since he asked us to do some vocals for Minuit! That song was really wonderful to work on because he gave us a story as a framework for our lyrics and overall vibe. He’s been so supportive from the very start and we seem to be quite compatible when it comes to working together. It’s a bit of a dream come true!
Any new tracks with Perturbator?
Jared: Nothing as of yet no, but we’ve been toying with a few ideas. We’ll make sure to keep you updated 😉
Hayley: I may or may not have received a demo track to lay some vocals on, but I’m hoping we can get working on another DA x Perturbator creation soon!
Are there any chances for a song just with Hayley’s vocals? Not that your voices don’t sound perfect together…
Jared: Yes, there will be a few songs on the album that feature her vocals more in the foreground.
Hayley: Ha ha, well, those certainly do exist. We have a couple on the album, but generally we like to keep a balanced workload with vocals. That being said, I’ve been working on a vocal-driven 80s synth pop solo project, but that probably won’t be anywhere near ready for release till 2015. Until then, most of my experimentations are up on Soundcloud.
Do you consider yourself a part of this entire 80s retro wave scene? It seems you all are pretty close with each other: I’ve found you via Perturbator, then I saw Le Cassette and Timecop1983 on your Facebook… Should we expect you, „the 80s guys”, to dominate the world soon?
Jared: As much as I love the 80s era of music and film, I do love looking forward to what’s next. We will always pull inspiration from that era, but I think continuing to evolve and reinterpret that is the route we want to take.
Hayley: We’ve definitely kept close ties with a lot of the artists in the 80s revival scene, and love collaborating with other artists who share our love for the genre. Jared’s right though, the more music we make, the more it changes shape. I think we want to keep things fresh as we go, but that seems like an inevitable part of the process. I’ve already heard some of the elements of this genre encroach into the mainstream but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like that much of a threat. I think it would be great to see these artists who have worked hard to get recognition, but obviously in a way where their work isn’t forced to be diluted down.
Speaking of 80s, what’s your biggest guilty pleasure from that era? 8-bit video games, 80s flicks, Duran Duran records…?
Jared: So so many. I can’t speak for Hayley, but for myself it’s Pet Shop Boys and New Order. I’d say Depeche Mode, but I don’t think they are so much a „guilty pleasure”, more of a „pleasure”. I grew up on Pet Shop Boys and later learned to develop an appreciation for New Order. So many great bands from the 80s… I mean, if we really want to talk about „guilty pleasures” I could add Hall & Oates to that list…
Hayley: Ooh, good question. If we had to talk about true, hard guilt, it would be a combination of the sax guy scene from The Lost Boys, Baby Judy by the Hawaiian Pups, and high-waisted jeans. I know the trend is going to die out soon but I don’t even care, they are comfy, endearingly hated by most guys and are the only things I will ever wear with a crop top.
Our blog is called „You haven’t heard that one before”. Could you tell us about any artists you like we may haven’t heard before and we should check them out?
Jared: With the internet, it’s hard to find bands that no one has heard about, „indie” isn’t so much a thing anymore. Both Hayley and I have been working with a number of bands/producers lately on various projects though, namely, Gost, Timecop1983, Vincent Nuit, Crying Vessel, DJ Ten, and Diana Gitallog & Pacifico to name a few. Between those guys, you’ve got a few days worth of music to check out now 🙂
Hayley: Oh boy! Well Jared just named off a bunch that I would have noted. I will throw my shout outs to Troxum, Miyuki, The Bear and The Sea, and… Manfred. 😉 😉 😉 😉
Thanks a lot! Cheers from Poland and all the best with your new releases.
Jared: Appreciate the opportunity guys, and appreciate the support.
Hayley: Thank you so much for reaching out, we feel so loved! Best of luck to you as well. J