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STRAYLINGS: THE UNRAVELLING OF THE STRAYLINGS - INTERVIEW BY NIGEL CARTNER

 
After years of being in the wilderness, ‘Straylings’ are now ready to drift effortlessly into the public eye, in much the same way that their debut album breezes and sways its way through eclectic, psychedelic tracks that float along in an evocative journey through the subconscious. Formed in 2007, patience has been a key for duo, Dana Zeera and Oliver Drake. After the release of their EP last June, they have been hard at work recording in basements and hallways to develop a sound that quite frankly invokes a discerning, mysterious, and sultry mood, which I kind of like and welcome at times. Songs such as ‘Carver’s Kicks’ and ‘Sleep Shapes’ really embody the bands best work that raises this sensation.

Their debut album, titled, ‘Entertainment on Foreign Grounds’ is due for release in March 2012 and they use friends to help with the supporting section of the band. The vibe has a very new wave, psychedelia/folk sense to it. The psychedelic side can be highlighted in ‘The Spoils’ and the folk side with ‘Bitter Face’. Zeera possesses a haunting wail of a voice that sends shivers down the spine, remaining consistent throughout the album. This is harmonized by the daunting, yet sublime steel like twanging guitar from Drake that wouldn’t look out of place in a scene from a mind bending Quentin Tarantino masterpiece -  Kill Bill sequences spring to mind, especially on the dark and riveting, ‘The Saguaro’. It is an album very much for those that crave some form of originality, escaping the typified and overcrowded indie genre, but with a hint of nostalgia from an era of the past, spreading its own creative coating around the edges. Having just played Camden’s Barfly, ‘Straylings’ are now looking to launch head first into the next step of their journey that will surely turn some heads along the way for those that can’t help but be compelled and drawn to psychedelia. I was fortunate to grab an interview with the duo.

NIGE: Straylings formed in 2007 and the album is being released in March 2012, how much of a relief is it to get to this point after a long journey?

ST: Yes it was really good to finally pull everything together.  We spent a lot of time working on the tracks, and some of the songs were re-written or discarded. Also, when we formed we spent a long time just finding our sound and experimenting, so there was quite a bit of time before we started gigging and recording.

NIGE: Since the completion and announcement of the album has there been larger audiences at gigs and more media attention?

ST: It’s still early days, as the album is due for release in March, but yes we’re really happy there’s been a positive response so far.

NIGE: In general, is there a theme to the album? What do you enjoy writing lyrics about?

ST: During the writing process there wasn’t a conscious decision to create a theme, but a lot of things came together and presented themselves as we progressed, and that’s really how the title came about as well. 'Entertainment on Foreign Grounds' seemed to tie together the tracks and the mood of the record, referring to certain themes like aggression, joy, displacement etc.

NIGE: There is a 1960s psychedelic vibe to the songs, is that where the majority of influences come from?

ST:Yeah I guess you could say there’s an element of 60s psychedelia to our sound. Bands from other eras have probably had an equal effect on us as well, like Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Nick Cave. I suppose like any artist though, you also can’t help but be influenced by your surroundings, and other things going on aside from musical influences.

NIGE: Dana, there has been comparisons made to Grace Slick in your style of singing, is she an inspiration?

ST: Well it’s really nice to be compared to someone like Grace Slick, Jefferson Airplane were a great group, but yes there are so many artists that are inspiring, both male and female.

As far as creativity goes, does being a mixture of Bahraini/Austrian and London backgrounds give you a certain edge in song writing where you can fuse very different ideals? Can that unique blend ultimately be what separates you from other bands out there?

ST: I don't think it gives us an edge really, just a different perspective maybe. I think that it can be quite common these days to have different nationalities and backgrounds within groups.  I guess really it comes down to whether people relate to what you’re doing regardless of all those things…

NIGE: Oliver, ‘Straylings’ are a little different to ‘The Veils’, do you feel that the sound you’ve created now is more suited to what you want to explore within music?

ST: Yes, this is a very different thing really and a lot has changed since then. I think being involved with music is one of those things where you'll always be learning and changing, and what you put out reflects that really.

NIGE: Straylings are predominately the two of you with other musicians featured on the album – would any of them become permanent fixtures in the band? Why did you want to keep it just the two of you?

ST: It wasn't a conscious decision really. I think because of the way we got together, we developed the majority of what we're doing between the two of us. From then it was just a natural progression really, with friends helping out on certain things. Maybe that aspect will evolve in the future though.

NIGE: I believe the album was recorded in basements and hallways, was that purposely done to try and create a distinctive sound?

ST: We did record a lot of the album like that yes, but it wasn't so much to do with those sonic aspects though. It was partly because of budget constraints, but also because we wanted to be in a place we felt comfortable with, and could be free to explore and develop sounds.

NIGE: Are there any plans for a full UK tour this year?

ST:Yes, we're making plans to do that soon after the album is released. We'll have to see what happens but initially we're hoping to do some dates around the south.

NIGE: What do you hope to achieve in 2012?

Really, we just hope that more people get to hear the album and starting work on album two would be great!

 
Interview by Nigel Cartner 03/02/12
Promo photo provided by Prescription Pr