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AAA Music | 10 December 2018

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AAA Music Approved: The Foxfires

| On 29, Nov 2018

The-Foxfires-Stars-and-Scars-Interview

Who are you and where are you from?

We’re The Foxfires from New York and New Jersey. The band is Christian Diana (CD) on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Christian Cordero (CC) on lead guitar, Brandon Vallejo on drums and backing vocals, and I’m Adam Kahn and I am the bassist and heavily manage the band. We became a band in September of 2013 out of the ashes of my guitarist, CC and my former band, “The Nightingale Effect” and CD’s solo project. The Nightingale Effect and CD had played a show together sometime in 2012 or 2013 and CC and CD had developed a mutual friendship among musicians. CC and I went to meet up with him at an open mic in Ridgewood, NJ at Ridgewood Coffee Company and they decided to get together to jam sometime. There was instant chemistry there and they decided that they wanted to start pursuing this more thoroughly. They originally enlisted TNE’s other bassist, Billy who had filled in for me after I had left the band for about a month before I joined. He wasn’t able to make the commitment to the project.

At a show in Newburgh, NY about a month after the band formed, I was approached to play bass for the band. I was just there to see the show and support CC, who was my best friend and the brother I never had, but then out of nowhere, they asked if I could fill in for bass. I hadn’t even heard any of the music prior to the show, but there I was and I was on stage. We had a drummer prior to Brandon, who was with us for about a year before he started becoming problematic at shows. He was drinking, becoming increasingly volatile, and engaging in very inappropriate behaviour with underage girls at shows to put it somewhat mildly. To boot, his commitment to the band and our message in general was incredibly flaky to say the least. On New Year’s Eve of 2014, he quit just as we were about to let him go.

We were in search of a drummer for a few months before we met Brandon at a show that we were playing as a three piece. We mentioned that we were in search of a drummer while we were performing and Brandon approached us afterwards and asked if he could try out. He told us that he didn’t have a drum kit, but that he was going to buy one for the try out the coming Monday. Needless to say, we were pretty sceptical of the whole thing, but he showed up to rehearsal and he had a full kit with him. He nailed the try out in ways that we couldn’t even fathom and the next month, he was playing shows with us.

What inspired you to get into music?

We all have too many influences to list for one interview. Haha We call our genre, “Seagaze.” It’s a combination of Indie Rock/Pop, Folk, Shoegaze, and Surf Rock which gives the listener an overall feeling that you would get when you’re on the beach or looking out at the sea. Our tastes in music aren’t limited to these genres, however, which makes our sound the way that it generally is. At times you can hear heavy metal drumming or jazzy guitar parts. Our inspiration to get into music varies among each of us, but I’d have to say that our desire to create music is because we genuinely love music and we want to make the world a brighter place with the music we create. Music is generally a language that almost all can speak. It transcends what can be spoken or written down. Music is a universal language of empathy that brings people together. We’ve all struggled as individuals most of our lives and this is something that’s always been a source of catharsis for us.

What have you done?

Since our formation in 2013, we’ve released 2 singles, 2 EPs, and 1 full length record. We’ve performed somewhere in the neighbourhood of 400 something shows. Our music has been broadcast on radio across the US and parts of the UK. Our music has been added to the Audiosparx and Homemade Soul Music Libraries as well as Discovery Networks, NASCAR, Roadtrip Nation, Bring Your Own Board. We’ve had our music used in a commercial for the city of Nyack and a commercial for a special coffee thermos. We’ve had the distinguished pleasure of working with tremendous producers such as Daniel Malsch, Jon Altschuler, and Ted Young; all were worth their weight in platinum and have produced some of our favourite artists of all times. We’ve had our music featured in incredible publications such as Paste, Vents, Impose, Patch, and quite a few others. Now, we get to be featured in AAA Music and that, in itself is an honour, a pleasure, and a privilege.

What are you like live?

Live? We’re much better than we are on a recording. When you hear us on a record, you’re hearing something that is the product of all of our hard work in the studio and all our time writing. It’s great mood music to listen to all year round- but it isn’t giving our sound the justice it deserves. When we perform live, there’s energy and there’s movement. We have incense burning on the stage to set the atmosphere. You have the pleasure of watching us perform for you in ways that you’ll never get to see by just listening to our recordings. I compare it to going from listening to the crisp and clean, yet cold nature of digital music at times to the warm and rich nature of analogue music, but with a great visual.

The best tours we’ve done were the ones we put together, ourselves, I’d have to say. Our first tour, which we dubbed the “Straight Outta Nyack” tour was put together in two weeks and we had the time of our lives. Some of the best artists we’ve had the pleasure of opening up for were Kurt Travis (formerly of Dance Gavin Dance), Have Mercy, Pentimento, Michale Graves, Sparks the Rescue, and Jennifer Hudson. Some of the best shows we’ve had the pleasure of being a part of were PEX: Summer Fest in Maryland, Pittsburgh Pride Fest in Pennsylvania, PVD Fest in Rhode Island, Northside Festival, Musikfest, O+ Fest, The TCS NYC Marathon, Millennium Music Conference, Singer Songwriter Cape May Conference, East Coast Music Conference, and Electric City Music Conference.

What makes you different?

Our sound and look are incredibly unique for their versatility alone. We’ve combined a multitude of genres and sounds that generally don’t intertwine all too often and we’ve made them work together in harmony. Our lyrics and our message are positive and we feel that quite often, people lack that in their daily lives and when they hear our music and they hear our words, they feel less alone and they feel a strong urge to not give up hope and to try to be the positive change that they want to see in their lives and in the world. We like to view our shows and our music as a haven for people who want to feel the catharsis that can be offered by our energy and our sound. We’re generally very easy-going people and very welcoming to all people, so people generally come for the good vibes and the easy-going nature of us, in addition to the tunes.

Physical vs Downloading vs Streaming…How do you listen to music?

This is a very complicated question, because all of us in this band love all paths to listening to music. I think a good portion of what we listen to and when we listen to it has to do with the level of convenience that each medium provides. In the car, I like listening to CDs, potentially FM Radio, and Spotify. At home, I’ll either stream or listen to an LP on my turntable. I grew up buying physical media and downloading music as well (both legally and illegally). I remember being somewhat young and witnessing the death of Tower Records back in 2005 or 2006. I bought my first guitar strap there. They had everything and I fell in love with and increasingly valued how wonderful places like record stores were. People were upset about the increase of illegal downloading that was going on. My mother was guilty of illegally downloading things and so was I. The problem was that paying for music was an expensive habit. In a time of economic struggle when the bills needed to be paid and I was too young to acquire a job where I lived without having a car. I used to go to my local library and check out CDs and burn them on CDs and store them on my computer. My portable CD player was my best friend, while I would walk to school or go on long car rides. I’m here at 23 years old and I still listen to CDs in my car. I still play my 12” LPs and 7” Singles/EPs that I’ve bought over the years on my turntable. When I do, I listen to them more for the warm analogue sound and the atmosphere that you get when you listen to that beautiful hiss and pop. People think that it gets in the way, but I compare it to a nice crackling fire on a cold winter day.

I still own CD, Vinyl, and digital downloads. I still buy these things in moderation as well. I still think that they all have their place in some form or another, most definitely. We’ve printed CDs over the years with each release. Vinyl is incredibly expensive to press and takes a long time to print. If we were to print anything on vinyl, we’d have to charge a fee that we wouldn’t feel comfortable charging our fans. We’ve yet to press anything on vinyl, although we’d like to in the future. What I’ve noticed over the past year or so, is that the demise of physical media and even just owning media in general has definitely arrived in more ways than one. Many speculate that this is a terrible thing and I’m inclined to disagree. Making money off of album or song sales in 2018 is a near impossibility, because the advent of streaming has given consumers the ability to pay $10 a month to listen to unlimited music in the blink of an eye. I don’t consider this a bad thing for the future of music, though. The struggle of unknown artists for the longest time was how to get people to listen to your music if they weren’t going to pay for the CD or the digital download. For $10 a month, you can guarantee that people don’t have an excuse to not listen your music due to financial obligations. If they’re paying for Spotify or Apple Music and your music is already on there, there’s no need to pay. Just click the song or the album, and you can listen over and over again. On top of that, there are now playlists for all different moods, genres, activities, and whatever you can imagine that will include the music of people who have yet to be discovered by the mainstream. It may not pay you as much in physical compensation at the moment, but the exposure is priceless.

To boot, with the updated Music Modernisation Act that has just been enacted in the US, a band’s mechanical royalties will soon reflect the change in how we listen to music in the modern age. Whereas people aren’t paying to listen to music anymore, they’re paying to go see live music, they’re paying for merchandise, and they’re buying products based on hearing a catchy song by an up-and-coming artist in a commercial. Those artists are paid handsomely by the people who make those commercials and they get back-end royalties in the long run on top of the typical lump sum. People think that the music industry is impossible to make it in if you’re not going to be selling records; it’s not impossible, though. It’s a wheel that keeps reinventing itself year by year. Streaming hasn’t killed the music industry; if anything it’s throwing it a live preserver.

What have you been listening to?

Kurt Vile’s new record that he just dropped, “Bottle It In” definitely comes to mind. Gerard Way’s new single “Baby You’re A Haunted House” is definitely a new favourite of mine. Death Cab for Cutie’s new record is incredible. Snail Mail’s “Lush”. We’ve been listening to Beach Fossils’ “Somersault,” Mac DeMarco’s “This Old Dog,” and Wavves “You’re Welcome” for the past year or so now. They’ve become big influences on our upcoming materials.

What are your aspirations for the future?

We’re planning on releasing three new singles for the new year under new management in 2019. Potentially three new singles afterwards in the Spring/Summer. In 2019, we hope to license our music to new and exciting prospects, play new festivals, travel to new places in the country and possibly the continent in general (we’ll see). We’d love to see more widespread recognition of our music and our message. Overall, we’d love to be the best and most successful version The Foxfires that we possibly can.

Questions answered by: Adam Kahn (bass) of The Foxfires…