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RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW INTERNATIONAL BAND ANTISOLAR

Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

Olivier: Thanks for having us, Carl!  We love what you guys are doing over at RGM, so we’re thrilled to be joining you in the lounge!

What made you decide to start the band?

Olivier: The partnership between me and Andrew was a pretty organic process. We met in L.A. on a different project of mine in the mid-2000’s and very quickly became friends. After that project wrapped up, we had things we wanted to write about and it just kind of made sense to do it together.

Andrew: Absolutely – working on that record and putting together the band for the shows that followed was really a formative experience for me early in my time in L.A..  It also gave me a reason to get a passport!  Beyond that, I really connected with Olivier’s songwriting sensibilities, so I was definitely eager to work on developing new songs.

Introduce us all to the members and tell us your musical history?

Olivier: The immediate band members are the two of us (Olivier Raynal and Andrew Doolittle).  I’ve cut my teeth in everything from theatrical productions to bar bands. Andrew took a different route, getting a masters degree in music before becoming an L.A.-based touring and session musician.  We also have a tremendous supporting cast – our “Antisolar family” – that we lean heavily on, which includes Randy Cooke on drums, Eric Holden on bass, Troy Welstad on keys, engineering help from Luke Tozour, Jorge Costa and Dale Becker, graphic design by Daren Challman and some cool videos by Lance Konnerth.

What’s one question youre sick of being asked when interviewed?

Andrew:  I’m afraid to answer that lest we steer you away from asking something you were planning to ask!  I guess one question I always wrestle with that I might prefer to not have to answer is “who do you sound like”?  I know that question can give music fans some idea of where we sit on the vast palette of musical genres, but I also get concerned that people might get dissuaded from checking out our music because they don’t like some of the artists that we mention or, worse, because they just don’t like a song or two (usually the most popular songs) by one of those artists.

Olivier:  Sure, to be fair I don’t think I’ve reached that point yet with any question. It’s an honor for anyone to care enough about our music to want to know more about it, and I guess that also means knowing more about us.

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? 

Olivier: Project Blue Book 😁

Andrew: I don’t subscribe to any conspiracy theories, but I can relate to the sense that all is not as it appears to be, and to that end I find the idea that the life we’re experiencing is one of an infinite number of possibilities that all exist within the multi-verse fascinating to ponder!



What useless party trick do you have?

Olivier:  Wow…. I don’t think I have a single party trick to speak of.. It’s actually embarrassing.

Andrew: I don’t think this counts as a party trick, because I don’t believe for a second that I could reliably duplicate it, but there was one time on tour when I was in a bar with a couple of the other musicians. I just gotten a couple pints from the bar, and right when I walked back and started to hand the drink in my left hand to one of them, the one in my right hand slipped out of my hand because the glass was wet. With the same hand, I was able to catch it before it hit the ground without spilling a drop. Both of the guys took a step back and gave me a look like “OK, who are you and what do you really do?!?!”

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

Andrew: I am a real simpleton when it comes to this: being on stage is my happy place, so anytime I’m there is great fun.

Olivier: I ended up finishing a set completely naked once… that was pretty fun.  I’m not altogether certain how it even happened.  It wasn’t unusual for me to play shirtless, but I remember it being very hot up there that night and I was stripping layers as the show went on. By the last set I had jokingly stripped down to my briefs and people in the crowd started chanting, “Take them off!!! Take them off!!! Take them off!!!” Who was I to argue?

What was your worst experience on stage?

Olivier: There is nothing worse than having your voice conk out. I think all singers would say that the worst possible experience on stage is to lose your voice.  In my case it’s happened on several occasions, unfortunately. I once blew out my voice and it affected shows for months. My voice simply didn’t have time to recover.  When vocals and vocal melodies are a big part of your identity then not being able to sing your songs in front of fans is extremely devastating.

Andrew: There was a time when I was playing guitar with an artist who was the opening act on a tour.  We were playing in front of a crowd if 15,000+ at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. It was a really stripped down band, and at the very beginning of the first song, I broke the G string on my guitar. The other musicians were playing really textural stuff and I was the only one holding down the rhythm, so I had to keep going even though my guitar was badly out of tune. That might’ve been the longest four minutes of my life!

Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about?

Andrew: I was a gymnast for a good chunk of my childhood. Actually got to train with a couple Olympians, including gold medal winner Bart Conner.

Olivier: Well, my wife is the lead dancer of the Moulin Rouge. I mean, I find that surprising.

If you had to describe your music to an alien how would you describe it? 

Olivier: Very interesting question considering that we’ve always imagined our band as being on an interstellar journey through space transmitting music back to Earth. Perhaps it’s more about transmitting music out to aliens to give them a sense of who we are in essence.

Andrew: I’ll echo what Olivier said: because I would imagine any advanced alien civilization would have evolved some method of working with binary code, maybe we could send them our audio files for them to deconstruct in their own way, be it artistic or highly analytical. I’m not sure that any of the descriptive terms or musician references I could offer them would translate!

What makes you stand out as a band?

Olivier: Well, It’s hard to not look at our geographical situation – Andrew being in L.A. and me being in Paris – and not mention it.  I think the distance has definitely  contributed to how our sound has evolved and I think that makes us unique.

Andrew: I also think our backgrounds definitely contribute.  Olivier’s ear leads us to some places that aren’t familiar to me as a “schooled” musician.  I also think that the project is both retro and modern in terms of our choices of sounds, and I think the music is also distinguished by elements of sophistication in the harmony and intelligent lyrics.

Right now, what’s pissing you of the most? (Can’t say the virus )

Andrew:  This is pretty trivial, but L.A. traffic is back to normal now.  In fact it’s worse than it was before the pandemic because fewer people are utilizing public transportation.

Olivier: Brexit. Increasing authoritarianism worldwide and projecting across borders.  More personally, I really have a hard time with people who seek justifications to deny what’s going on around us in the world. The motivation is always money. If we admit that our lifestyle is destroying our habitat then we have to make changes that get in the way of making money. It’s really infuriating to listen to those who hide behind the smoke screens of “fake news” or “you got that from (fill in news outlet)”

Whats your favourite song to play live and why?

Olivier: Easy, “You Resurrect Me”, simply because it’s the only one we’ve played live so far!  Due to the distance (not to mention the pandemic) we haven’t done any live shows since we started releasing this material.  Looking forward to playing the rest of them – hopefully at some point in 2022!

I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it?

Olivier: Yes! Our fourth single, “Sorry” is out today! I’m very excited about this track as it began with a chorus melody and a feeling that I had, but it resonated with Andrew and he made a real gem!

Andrew: I’m really excited for this one too.  It’s a break up song, but it’s written from the perspective of someone who realizes the relationship is over long before their partner is ready to accept that it is. In this case, I was the one who wasn’t ready to accept that it was better to move on!  It was an interesting and somewhat heart wrenching exercise to attempt to revisit the relationship from her vantage point, but I think it makes for a song that’s lyrically unique.  

Talk me through the thought process of the single?

Andrew: When I first heard this song it was really just the one word “Sorry” with the two notes that you hear in the chorus.  Olivier and I met up in Houston when he flew to the U.S. to buy an engagement ring.  We had a few days there to write, and “Sorry” was one of the songs we worked on.  That kicked off my period of introspection that resulted in most of the lyrics.

What was the recording process like?

Olivier:  Our process varies a bit from song to song given the distance between us but it does follow a kind of method. Oftentimes I’ll have an idea for a song, sometimes just a fragment, other times something complete or nearly complete.   Andrew and I will then talk about each song and, depending on what needs to be done in terms of the story and musical structure, we’ll throw ideas back and forth until we feel we have something. From there Andrew goes into production mode and works on dressing the song, giving it colors and flavors; much of that is done with just the two of us, but when we include other musicians Andrew will usually be there to record in person and I’ll FaceTime in.  Then I fly over to record final vocals and to be present for the final touches like mastering.

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single?

Olivier:  Bridging the distance for sure.  There are some stages of making a record that really get challenging when you’re an ocean and a continent apart.  For example, when our mix engineer sends us a mix to review, Andrew might listen and have a note about a background vocal being too quiet, so he e-mails or texts me, but if I’ve just gone to bed, eight hours might pass before I respond, which puts it right around the time he might turn in.  As a result simple tasks can get stretched out over many hours.  

Andrew: I agree with all that.  For me, it was honing my production chops. I do a lot of recording, and have decent engineering skills, but this is really the first project that I took the helm from a producer standpoint.  A lot of the challenge inherent in that has to do with knowing when to say something is finished. A great mix engineer friend of mine said that given enough time he could “make anything perfect“. The problem with that is that art isn’t meant to be perfect: it’s meant to be imperfect, like us!

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

Andrew: There are subtle details that with a bit of distance from the record, I occasionally think “oh, I’d have done that differently”, but this batch of songs is really a snapshot of the time in which they were recorded.

Olivier: I agree!  These songs represent a process that we made work for better or for worse.  We will always look to make things more efficient or productive in the future, but we definitely wouldn’t want to do anything that compromises the essence of what we do.

What are your plans for the year ahead?

Andrew: We’re bantering some new songs back-and-forth, and beginning to talk about plans to get together to work on them. The process of releasing the songs has been a huge learning experience for us too, so planning for the next round goes beyond simply getting recordings done.  We also want to make sure we maximize our time together to create compelling visual content and making sure that we have everything we need to help more people hear our music!

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Olivier: First, thanks again so much for having us in the virtual RGM Lounge, Carl!  Above all, we hope that these songs bring a sense of hope to anyone who listens to them as they navigate the incredible range of human emotions, from elation to brokenness.  There is a kind of amazing story that I’d love to share with your readers because it’s very fresh for me.  You’re actually the first ones who I’m sharing this with:  A longtime friend of mine and fellow musician/ songwriter, who had always hated everything I wrote, reached out to tell me how much he loves our last single, “You Resurrect Me”. He’d gone through an incredible transformation over the last few years. After years of substance abuse cost him his relationship with his then-pregnant girlfriend, he sobered up. He became an incredibly dedicated father to his son and built a restaurant, but something was missing. He’d been holding on to the desire to get back together with the mother of his child and it kept him in a sort of emotional prison.  Then, like the protagonist in “You Resurrect Me” (which really represents my own story), one day he met someone new, and he was freed in a way he wasn’t able to be before.  When he heard our song “You Resurrect Me” it transported him: his journey made sense and he completely connected.  It was an amazing thing to have someone I know so well, with all this history, tell me how much the song made sense on an emotional level, and I’m thrilled that he’ll always associate our song with a part of his own story.  It doesn’t get better than that for me!