Review Fix chats with The Living Strange’s Elijah Sokolow, who discusses the band’s origin, goals, creative process and single, “Wax Museum.”
About the Band:
The Living Strange was founded by Elijah Sokolow whose music combines the guitar-driven hard rock of artists like Queens of the Stone Age and Rage Against the Machine with the electronic-indie atmosphere of artists like Tame Impala and St Vincent. Sokolow is the sole songwriter of the project and the studio recordings compromise of him overdubbing all instruments other than drums, which are played by Ben Shafrir. As a touring act, the band consists of Sokolow (vocals, guitar), Ben Shafrir (drums), Miles Blue Spruce (bass), and Nico Sleator (Synthesizer).
Review Fix: How did the band get together?
Elijah Sokolow: I met Ben in a music program for kids where they put you in bands and you play classic rock songs. Miles came to all of our shows and it only made sense for him to join because we figured he was always free when we had shows. Nico was late to his audition that our ex-bassist got him once we decided we wanted a keyboard player but he made up for it by becoming our keyboard player.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Sokolow: I started playing guitar when I was five. I heard a lot of different music growing up and I was really inspired by the feeling I got listening to loud rock music. Once I started playing electric guitar, I was hooked. I still haven’t found something in the world that I like more than playing that instrument.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Sokolow: I usually have a continuous stream of musical ideas and lyrical ideas and whenever I want to write a song, I just put some of them together. It’s not like the whole song usually comes from the same moment. It’s usually phrases and passages that are from different points in my life.
Review Fix: What inspires you?
Sokolow: This sounds like a joke but I’m inspired by how strange life can be. It’s gotten me in all kinds of places feeling all kinds of ways and that motivates me to create music. That said, I think songwriting is more of a methodical process than a spur of the moment inspiration kind of thing. It’s not that there are good or bad ideas, it’s just that there are good and bad ways of presenting them.
Review Fix: Why is “Wax Museum” a special track?
Sokolow: This song is special because I wrote it about a really personal matter – in terms of dealing with the pain of watching a loved one hurt themselves. Musically it’s pretty fun because the chorus has got this harsh sound that I saved as “BALLS” in pro tools. It’s essentially a fake fender rhodes with literally every fuzz that comes with Logic (the daw, not the rapper).
Review Fix: Who do you think will enjoy this album the most? Why?
Sokolow: I think rock fans who want something new and guitarists will enjoy this album the most. As an avid rock music listener, it’s been a bummer to see so many awesome bands lose energy as they mature. This album is for younger rock fans who don’t want to just listen to the classics.
Review Fix: What’s special about the Brooklyn music scene?
Sokolow: Brooklyn (and NYC in general) has an awesome music scene because there are so many unique bands and venues. There’s more or less a spot for each style. This is where I tell you to listen to all these awesome bands like A Deer A Horse, Warpark, Bailey the Nudibranch, and the Black Market Merchants.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Sokolow: We sound like if Thom Yorke ran a midi pickup underneath his right nostril while watching Alex Turner shave his head to Rage Against the Machine.
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Sokolow: Our live shows are very spontaneous in that we don’t use setlists and we usually end up in different parts of the venue with various injuries. Our studio work is more deliberate in what it’s trying to say. We make sure that each recording decision enforces the main themes behind the songs.
Review Fix: What are your goals for the rest of 2018?
Sokolow: We plan on throwing a festival in NYC so my goal is for that to be a good time for all involved. We will continue to tour regionally throughout the east coast as well.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Sokolow: This year, we have two more releases that are both concept album type things. One is a folk album about a fictional character and the other is a punk album about advertisements. You should buy both right when they come out. It’s the deal of a lifetime, really.