Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sky Hiker

Recently I've gotten into the pattern of putting in my headphones as I'm laying in bed about to go to sleep.  A lot of the music at the late hour consists of the chillwave genre, usually intertwined with a lot of laid back instrumental ambient works.  As much of that kind of music is intended to do, it helps me unwind and relax.  One such artist who I have found myself listening a lot to is the emerging talent called Sky Hiker from Brussels, who is gaining more and more buzz.  So far, he has released one official EP under his name; a 3-song gem entitled Underwater Colors.  One attribute that really caught my attention in the EP was the variation and experimentation that went into each song.  Whereas one song may toy around with a clean, yet atmospheric, guitar riff, another will sample vocals from "Feeling Good" and cover it with some fuzzy, reverbed grooves.  Also, the music seems to match the aura behind Sky Hiker, which can be seen on his sites.  His sincere love of music really seems to shine through on Underwater Colors, which is really neat to see.

Out of interest towards his music, I thought it would be cool to try and contact him and ask him a few questions.  I was hopeful that I'd be able to then post the questions onto the blog.  I was surprised and excited to see that he actually responded!  Throughout several e-mails back and forth, I was not only able to retrieve an interview, but was able to get an idea of the man behind the music.  He was great to talk to, and he responded to my questions with equal enthusiasm as the first e-mail I sent him, which was great.  Below, I have posted the interview for your viewing.  I hope you find it interesting, as he gives some great insight into his musical process and future plans.  Be sure to check out his Bandcamp and Myspace for more info.

What's the background story behind Sky Hiker?  When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?
Well, to answer that question I need to go back a few years. In 2007 I started computer graphic study after high school, and I wanted to create a graphical project for my personal account. I needed a name and finally came up with "Sky Hiker" which reflected perfectly my state-of-mind back then (and still today). In the end, for multiple reasons, the graphical project Sky Hiker is now on stand-by. Music has always been a huge part of my life, and when I bought my first guitar in 2006 I started to play my own stuff. Listening to music wasn't enough anymore to satisfy my musical appetite. Finally, in 2009, the idea to record and put online some stuff came up. Once again I needed a name & thought Sky Hiker could be a revival or something. Since then I'm writing music under that name and share it to everyone who'd be crazy enough to listen to my records!

Which past bands/artists inspire you most when it comes to making music?
Oh there are plenty, but if I had to say one name, it would be Muse. They are my own (muse) since they write music back in the late 90's. But of course a few other bands influence me every day such as The Strokes or Phoenix that I listen to a lot, and bands such as Union of Knives (which split up now) or Ghinzu (Belgian band). Though when I'm writing music, many other names help me through the writing process such as Jon Hopkins, Trentemøller, Aphex Twin, Royksöpp, Goose, Elvis Presley, the composer John Murphy, Massive Attack, Rage Against the Machine, The XX, ... I could give you hundred more!

What are some of your favorite releases to come out so far this year?
I'd go for "Into the Great Wide Yonder" by Trentemøller, "LP4" by Ratatat and "Something You Might Like" by Puggy as we speak about a full length album. But there are some tunes such as "It's the Chemicals" by Inspired Flight, "Crave You" by Flight Facilities, "What You Know" by Two Door Cinema Club or "Warp 1977" by Bloody Beetroots that have made me swing a lot this year! And looking back to the future, I hope Marty McFly loves the new The Strokes album coming up next year...

Which modern music website (like Myspace or Bandcamp for example) has helped you the most in getting your name recognized and why?
Well, you'd be surprised but that it’s music blogs like yours that help me the most actually. A few other blogs wrote some kind of review about my EP and it's a great help for multiple reasons, probably because it gives you a wider range of potential people who'd like what you do, because they generally like what the blogger writes in his/her music blog. MySpace doesn't help anymore nowadays, I simply use it because it's a popular platform that every one knows and it gives me another support to upload my music. On the contrary, Bandcamp is the future on the Internet for music makers like me. It really brings you new listeners. Simple fact is that I never did anything to promote myself and still every day people download my EP. How did I get the pleasure to answer this interview? Well you probably found me on Bandcamp and I didn't do anything to get you there. So yeah, according to me Bandcamp & music lovers around the world are the best help you can get!

Speaking of Myspace, yours says that Sky Hiker will "always be a spontaneous outburst".  What exactly does this mean in your approach to making music?
I was secretly hoping someone would ask me that someday!  I had to write a few lines about Sky Hiker to fill in my "description" on websites so I took the time to think about it. Actually the idea of a "spontaneous outburst" came to me quite late, when I realized that making music is a pleasure or a hobby, you can call it whatever you like, but it should never be an obligation. I write music because that's what I like to do, but I will never force myself to write some new tunes because it's been 3 months and I haven't released anything and people are waiting for a remix or whatever. Inspiration, motivation and will have to come naturally, it's basically what the "spontaneous outburst" is about. I don't have any schedule about Sky Hiker. Maybe the story will be over in six months, maybe I'll release a full-length album on a physical support through a major label (doubt it though, haha). Sky Hiker will always be spontaneous. That's also why it will always be fully free to download, because it's something made for your own pleasure. There are no trade-offs with Sky Hiker, just enjoy it as I enjoyed writing it.

Your song "The Beaver Jam (Interlude #1)" is an interesting take on the song "Feeling Good".  What influenced you in making the cover of it?  I imagine you're a fan of the song?
Oh well, yeah of course I love that song. I discovered that tune through Muse's cover in the early 2000. Actually, I did this this summer. I was lazy and chilling with my guitar.  This simple riff came out of my fingers and I found it groovy. At first I wanted to do a full cover with full lyrics then I thought it was quite a dangerous thing to do, 'cause there are thousands of people who attempted to cover Feeling Good, and it's really hard to make something that would sound decent. So I decided to remix the voice of Nina Simone to make a quick groovy cover, nothing huge, not a big deal, just for the fun. It was more of a jam or a short interlude in my writing process (that explains the name) like, you know, a band in a studio recording for 4 hours straight, sooner or later you go insane and play something that has nothing to do with the rest of your music, but you just have fun. It took me maybe 45 minutes to complete this. It's the perfect example of the spontaneous outburst I was talking about!

If you could play in any city in the world, where would it be and why?
Oh dude, if I could choose I'd play in New York City. I've never been there though, but the Big Apple has always attracted me since I was a kid. Definitely I'd play there. Moreover, I heard Daft Punk really likes to make appearances there when there's a big show, I cross my fingers!  More seriously, it would probably be just magical to play in a small café in NYC just to people who love my tracks.

Are you in the process of writing new music?  How does the style sound in comparison to the EP?
Yeah, I recently started writing new stuff.  I took a break since the end of the summer to do other things but inspiration & motivation came back to me and I hope to write maybe 3 or 4 new tunes during the next few weeks. I don't know yet how it's gonna sound actually, but it will probably be darker and deeper. I really want to mix up guitar riffs and synthpop sounds with an electronic touch. I'm also considering a voice for one or two tracks, I don't know yet. To reveal it all, I'll probably release one, maximum two new songs on the Underwater Colors EP but that's it. I want to release something new, another EP with a whole new atmosphere and new sounds, I hope people will like it. I also have a really rock/dancy tune with an agressive guitar line that I want to release but it has nothing to do with what I did before, so I don't know yet how I'll release this!

And lastly, what is the timetable for fans to expect your first full length album?
I don't know yet if I'll be able to release a full length album. For now I'll release EP's with 4 or 5 songs on each and each EP would have its own universe, so in the end, people could pick the one they like and make their own selection. Though I'd be lying if I was saying I don't want to release a LP eventually. It could really happen next year in 2011 and it would probably be half old songs (that could also be found in the EP's) and half new "exclusive" songs for the album. Until now, the next step is still to complete the Underwater Colors EP and start a new one before the end of this year! But I can already assure you that the LP would be totally free, the same way Radiohead did with "In Rainbows". You can give money if you're deeply in love with it, but you get it for free anyway.

I have posted a song from the EP below, it's a fantastic instrumental ambient track called "Sunset In Your Eyes".

 Sunset In Your Eyes

If you've read the interview, you know that the tracks are completely free.  I've posted a quick link to download the entire EP here.  I've also posted a quick link to his Myspace, where you can view an unofficial track called "Shine A Light", here.  Hope guys dig it.  And of course, thank you to the Sky Hiker for taking time to answer the questions!

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