You voted My Satellite as your BeatCrave Fav for the month of April! The LA based band has been enhancing the music scene with their ambient, dreamlike alternative rock music that paves a unique path through the contemporary LA scene. We got to pick the brain of Bryan Stage, the musical genius behind My Satellite, and find out some answers to our most burning questions (from influences to dream patterns… its all here!). Check out our exclusive interview with My Satellite below:
BeatCrave: Who are some of your major musical influences?
My Satellite: I’ve been influenced by so much music over the years it’s really hard to narrow it down to just a few. I listen to psychedelic rock, classical, jazz, 90s grunge, early emo, post rock, 70s and 80s punk, post punk, electronica, indie, etc. Putting my iPod on shuffle is a nightmare of clashing songs and genres. Bjork and David Bowie are two of my biggest musical heroes because they have uncompromising musical visions, they take lots of risks and they are both just so ridiculously cool. A few other favorites are Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Vivaldi, Aphex Twin, Crystal Castles, The Cure, Papa M, Postal Service, Elliott Smith, Blonde Redhead… I could go on for quite a while. I like a lot of music and try not to obsess over any particular artist. Obsession leads to mimicry.
BC: How do you set yourself apart from the Los Angeles music scene, lyrically, melodically, etc.
MS: A number of our fans have described the music as “epic” which is obviously a really broad term and feels far too elevated of a description to me at times. I feel like it would be rather presumptuous of me to describe my music like that, but when I really think about it, from the beginning my goal was to make each song as big, as powerful and as beautiful as it can be. In a way it’s a pretty spot on description. The music is “epic” in it’s own way. I think that makes us very different than most bands in the scene. A lot of bands here have gone for a more minimalist approach which works great on a lot of levels and I like what a lot of these bands have been doing, but My Satellite is different. I like to do a lot with a little, not the other way around.
BC: One of my favorites is “A Nighttime Daydream”. What do you dream about?
MS: Kittens, popsicles and kittens eating popsicles. Oh… and murder. Sometimes the popsicles are alive when the kittens are feasting.
BC: With so many layers, harmonies, and rich melodies in your music, how do you compose each song, and what is the writing process for your lyrics like?
MS: My writing process is usually a mess of inspiration, perspiration and drunkenness. There may also be some dancing involved. Maybe. It usually starts with some haphazard banging around on my guitar or my keyboard which turns into an idea that I like and I begin building the song from there. The layers and harmonies tend to become obvious to me as the song progresses. Each song is very much like putting together a puzzle. Since I record everything myself, it’s nice to be able to write and record at the same time so that I can play with a number of options and figure out what works. And once I’ve figured it out the song is done and I don’t need to go back into a studio and rerecord it. That’s one reason I really love digital recording. I know that statement may turn off the analog purists, but oh well. Fuck it. I am a fan of technology.
Lyrics tend to be the final step in the process. I tend to have a vocal melody from the start, but the lyrics don’t typically take shape until I have all the music and the vocal melodies laid out. I’m not at all a linear writer of lyrics. Not a storyteller in that sense. I’m more interested in conveying an emotion which is never a linear feeling. At least not to me. I really enjoy open ended art that allows for individual interpretation and meaning. I tend to talk around the subject of my lyrics, or at least what I intended to be the subject so that the meaning is what you make of it. Finding your own message in a song makes it more personal and significant. When people ask me what a song means I don’t like to answer them. I don’t want to ruin the trick by explaining how it’s done. Never mind the man behind the curtain!
BC: How did the live band lineup come about?
MS: At the end of last year I was finishing up the second My Satellite EP, Depths, and I felt like it was time to start making this band a reality. Ryan Ward and I used to work together and have been friends for years, playing music together off and on for various projects. He was always a fan of My Satellite and is a great guitarist so I asked him to join the band. So that was easy enough. I knew that I wanted a female keyboardist to handle some of the higher octave vocal harmonies that I did in the recordings. We were searching for months. It was really trying. I had all but given up hope that this band would materialize when I got an email from Sammi Doll who had happened to come across the music and was really into it. She sent me a demo of her singing and playing and I knew right then that she was exactly what I was looking for. Soon after meeting her we found out that she was friends with Justin Paul who is a great drummer and happened to be looking for a band. Justin came down and auditioned and it was immediately obvious that he was the person we needed. We had four-fifths of the band together without auditioning anyone other than who was in the band. Once we were ready to add a bassist that could also sing backup vocals, it turned out that Justin’s roommate Andy Marshall was really into the music and that was once again a natural fit. It took a little time, but once we were all finally in the same room it felt like we had been playing together for years. I couldn’t ask for a better or more talented group of people to play with.
BC: Do the other members of the live band have any influence on the songwriting process of your music?
MS: I had all the music written before I started putting together the band so obviously they were not involved with that, but the live sound is a little different from the recorded songs and we have all worked together in finding the best way to adjust the songs to make them work with a live band. They are all really talented musicians so as we progress as a unit I’m looking forward to adding their input into the creative process.
BC: What is the origin of your band name?
MS: It fell out of my brain one day as I was driving around LA. It evokes imagery of space and emptiness yet at the same time a feeling of comfort, attachment and warmth which is very appropriate for the music.
BC: How do you connect with the audience during live performances, and what do you want fans to walk away with at the end of shows?
MS: I view a live set like a good DJ set. It has to get the audience in the mood right from the start and build them up as the set goes on with some peaks and minor valleys along the way. We try to allow the set to do a lot of the work for us while our energy and passion for playing this music and with each other is what puts it over the top. I hope that people walk away from our shows inspired and feeling like they shared an experience with us rather than just watched a band play.
BC: If your band had an alter ego, what would it sound like?
MS: Something like a screaming sasquatch playing a banjo while parachuting into the Costa Rican rain forest.
BC: Where do you see the band in the future, in the next 3-5 years?
MS: We’ll have enjoyed four straight years of unsurpassed success. Adored by fans and critics alike, to the outside world it will seem like we have it all, but by year five it will all come apart at the seems. I will have entered rehab after my fifth marriage in as many years has fallen apart due to my herion, meth and bestial porn addictions. It will be revealed to the world that Sammi was actually an MI6 secret agent attempting to bring down the American music industry from the inside. She’ll narrowly escape death as she flees to the UK. Justin will decide that his true calling is being a mime, will quit music, enter mime school and later move to Paris where his “I’m trapped inside an invisible box” routine will be perfected. Ryan will start a cult whose belief system centers around a magic tub of hummus. Andy will move into the woods of Michigan and join a militia and never be seen without his tin foil hat.
And if none of that works out, we’ll be on the road playing to our amazing fans and having a shitload of fun.