Howdy folks, today we’ve got a group of musicians that marry under the banner ‘Strangely attractive’. They’re a hybrid-rock band from L.A. trying to do something a little bit different, they are creative at heart, hands-on and dabble in many things away from the music industry.
They are certainly leading the way when it comes to being pro-active and they’ve not long embarked on an ambitious challenge, and have become a band that certainly embraces experimentation. Before we ramble anymore… let’s dive straight into the questions with Chris Gongora…
[YCC] For those of us who don’t know, what is Strangely Attractive? Both the band, and what does it mean in a literal sense?
[Strangely Attractive] It’s an indie pop rock band with Jupiter Amaya on vocals, Mario Gorito on guitar, and Chris Gongora (me) on bass. I started the band around 4 years ago in LA. I love dance music and I love rock so I wanted to put together a live dance rock band that just made the crowd constantly bob their heads. Originally, I wanted to have a guitar player fast enough to play all the arpeggio keyboard parts that you hear in dance tracks but played on an electric guitar with distortion. I actually found a musician that could do that but he didn’t end up working out. Lucky for me and much to my surprise, I was able to find an even better guitar player in Mario. Jupiter came through after many months of auditioning singers in LA. She walked into the audition and completely blew me away with her powerful vocals. The sound has evolved with everybody’s influences but we still consider ourselves to be an indie rock band with dance undertones at heart.
As far as the literal sense, Strangely Attractive to us means to be beautiful but not in an obvious way, much like that famous saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” That’s how we feel about our music. We’re not straight up glossy pop music that you may hear on Top 40 radio but our music still radiates to those it does speak to. In regards to our style we like to say “beauty is in the EAR of the beholder.”
[YCC] Tell us a little bit about your challenge, what is it, how did it start, and why are you doing it?
[SA] The 52 Week Challenge is a yearlong project where we have to upload a new music video every week for an entire year. It actually began very small. We were just finishing up our album and we decided that we were going to make a few acoustic videos to put up on YouTube. The plan was to release one per week for a month to get people excited about our new album. I was telling this to my very good friend and bad-ass magician Danny Garcia. It was his idea to do one video per week for a year, as he thought we might be able to create more of a buzz about the band if we took on such a crazy project. We, as a band, discussed it and against our better judgment, decided to go for it. We decided to also shoot pretty much everything on the iPhone. This is not because we wanted to experiment with all the cool iPhone filming features but because we don’t have any better camera equipment and we can’t afford to get any better camera equipment.
Here’s our video introduction to the project:
[YCC] 52 videos is a lot. 1 week is not. Do you find your ideas for songs and videos are more spontaneous and less ‘planned’, given the time restrictions?
[SA] My goal is to have at least one of these videos go viral in order to get the band more exposure to more ears. Because of that we definitely try our hardest to come up with original, creative, and fun ideas for videos. I spend more time than I should trying to come up with concepts, so in my head I definitely plan things out as much as I can before we actually shoot the video. Because of our time restrictions, I need the shoot day to run smoothly so we can move on to the next one.
[YCC] Is there a plan for week 52?
[SA] You know, we haven’t really thought that far ahead for what we’re gonna do for week 52. Probably should start at least thinking about that!
[YCC] What do you plan to do once all 52 are finished?
[SA] Oh man, hopefully at that time, we will have created some sort of buzz and we can continue to play shows, make new music, and shoot the (occasional) music video and turn this into a way to make a living. If in a year from now, we find that we haven’t gotten more people talking about us and it’s pretty much the same as 52 weeks ago, then we definitely did something wrong and I guess we’ll have to decide if we’re gonna keep on trucking or move on from there. We’ll see in 52 weeks!
[YCC] So far you’re just about to release video #12 – what have you learnt from your experiences so far?
[SA] That we probably should have stuck to the 4 acoustic video plan!
We’ve learned that each video shoot is probably gonna take longer than allotted for. If we think the shoot’s gonna take 2 hours, we should plan on it going for 4.
We are learning that this is a very challenging project, however we are up for the challenge and we are having fun doing it as a band.
[YCC] What’s been your favourite song/ video so far?
[SA] I really like video #1 for the acoustic version of our song “You Don’t Know.” We featured magician Danny Cole and his invisible chair routine. Video #2 was pretty cool. That one was for another acoustic version of a different tune called “Immaculate 1” which I wrote for my mom as she was dealing with my dad’s passing from brain cancer. We drew words and pictures that related to the lyrics of the song on helium balloons. Video #6 is another acoustic rendition of our song “Do You Really” where we hung 5 guitars in my garage. Mario and I ran back and forth between the guitars, playing the actual song live as Jupiter sang. That one was my favorite until we did video #6 for our song “Always Mad.” For this one, I enlisted the help of two of my artist friends, Robert Vargas and Isac Guzman. We drove around the city one afternoon drawing windoodles in my car. Windoodles are drawings done on the window and when you shoot it, the drawings look like they are co-existing with the world outside through perspective. I really liked the way that one turned out!
VIDEO #1 – You Don’t Know
VIDEO #6 – Do you really
[YCC] What’s the one message you’d like people to take away from your challenge?
[SA] That we’re a hard-working and creative band that is trying it’s hardest to do what it can without the help of any labels (so far) to get out and be heard. Sounds a little cheesy after I wrote it, but I’m sticking to it!
[YCC] Creatively speaking, how do you go about producing your music videos? What comes first, the lyrics, the concept or the melodies?
[SA] For the most part the songs come first. We try to come up with video concepts for our songs that have already been written. I do have a little list of video concepts as well that I came up with even before the challenge. We’ve used very few of these ideas however, cause most of them were dream videos that I thought of when we actually have a budget to shoot them.
We go out with our iPhones and with the help of a friend, usually Enrico de la Vega or Greg Yepes and sometimes Iris Almaraz, we shoot a video. Then it’s my job to edit, which I do in iMovie.
As far as the actual song itself, we usually come up with melodies and music and then fill it in with the lyrics after.
[YCC] Do you have a set time you spend on each video, or just play it by ear?
[SA] We just play each by ear.
[YCC] Do you find budgets an issue?
[SA] We definitely can’t do some things we want because of budget restraints. We are most definitely trying to live and breathe within our means, which most of the time means working on literally zero budget.
VIDEO #8 – Always Mad
[YCC] How can our followers get involved, should they wish to?
[SA] Many ways! Sign up for our newsletter at strangelya.com. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our Youtube channel. Re-post our stuff. Comment on our sites as well so we know people are out there listening. Our album is gonna be coming out in October, so buy some of our singles. I own a silk-screen press for t-shirt making, so we’ll be making our own t-shirts for sale pretty soon as well. Also, we’re always down to collaborate with creative people, so if anybody has any ideas for concepts that they want to help us out on, hit us up. Lord knows we need more video concepts! Anybody with music connects that would like to pass us on to anybody, we’re down for that as well! Oh yeah, any angel investors that want to throw some cash our way, we’ll take it! I’m sure we’ll put it to good use.
[YCC] So, what about you Chris, how old were you when you first picked up an instrument and what was it?
[SA] My first instrument was called the tonette (which is like a recorder) that I had to play in the 2nd grade if I wanted to move on to another instrument. In the 3rd grade I was allowed to move on to the saxophone. I still have that same sax which sadly I lost the skill to play.
[YCC] What makes your music stand out from everything else out there?
[SA] I like to think we’re doing something different! We have an amazing vocalist in Jupiter, a crazy skilled guitar player in Mario, and I write some pretty decent songs. We also do our songs in both English and Spanish and when we perform live we do our best to give the people in attendance a high-energy show that they’ll hopefully talk to their friends about.
[YCC] What pays the bills?
[SA] Creating and producing reality shows and performing and consulting in the magic world. Sometimes those things go hand-in-hand.
[YCC] When you’re not making music, what else do you do?
[SA] I dabble in a bunch of creative things. I create and develop reality show formats to try to sell with my producing partners Enrico de la Vega and Tony Austin. We’ve sold two shows: T.H.E.M. – Totally Hidden Extreme Magic to NBC and Room 401 to MTV. I perform magic with Magic X, which is a group of amazing magicians all trying to push magic in a forward direction. I consult for other magicians as well. I’m also trying to get this t-shirt company off the ground.
[YCC] So you’re a magician… does this influence your music or art in anyway?
[SA] We are definitely trying to feature magic and my amazing friends in the videos we are doing.
[YCC] Who is your biggest inspiration, creatively? Can you share some links or examples?
[SA] In music I have a list of 4 artists that inspire the hell out of me; The Beatles, Nirvana, The Cars, and Bjork.
In creating videos I love Michel Gondry. If I could come up with just one idea that’s anywhere close to what he does, I would feel like I accomplished something creatively.
[SA] In magic, it’s close-up magician Johnny Ace Palmer. In the magic community he is very well known and respected.
[YCC] Do you have any advice for the budding young creative types out there, musically or otherwise?
[SA] Once you get bit by that creative bug, there’s no fighting it, so do everything that you can do to accomplish your goals. Definitely don’t wait for others. If you believe in you, go out and do it yourself. You should always be creating something.
[YCC] Changing the tone slightly, you’re planning on making a breast cancer awareness themed music video, in honour of a close friend, how important do you think it is to create content that carries an important message rather than just entertain?
[SA] My dad passed away from brain cancer and my cousin passed away from breast cancer. I wrote a song for each of them when they were still with us. I was able to play the songs for both of them, which was nice to see their smiles and expressions as they listened. We are planning on doing a video for each of the songs.
I actually don’t write to get my messages across. I don’t have a political or religious agenda when I write. For the most part I just try to entertain. Nevertheless, I am a human being and an artist so when I truly believe in something it’ll probably end up being somewhere in something I’m about to create. Take cancer for instance. Obviously taking the stance that cancer SUCKS is very near and dear to my heart and I don’t believe anybody is gonna get pissed off at an anti-cancer song and video. I don’t believe there are people that are pro-cancer out there.
[YCC] Where can people find out more about what you guys do?
[SA] All of our social media sites:
Only another 40 to go!
Thanks Chris & Strangely Attractive!
New concepts. New ideas. New music is the motto they live by… so if you’ve got any interesting ideas I’m sure they’d love to hear them.
Much love the YCC x.
Posted in: Weekly Score