Saturday, February 24, 2018

Victoria’s Astrocolor offer weird take on holiday music with debut release

January 20, 2016 by Jake Wyatt, contributing writer

Around the holidays, Christmas music is inescapable. From shopping malls to private parties, the blithe choruses of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Deck the Halls” will follow you from Thanksgiving dinner right up until your Christmas feast. Some relish how these songs carry with them the spirit of the season, while others fiercely detest them.

Victoria-based ambient-rockers Weird Party, working under the name Astrocolor, have turned these songs on their heads on their debut release, Lit Up. The mainly instrumental Astrocolor has taken these classical holiday ballads and turned them into chill, jazz-inspired, ambient tracks.

Bassist William Farrant says the band’s desire to make their debut release a holiday album came from their constant urge to experiment.

“We’re always looking at doing things differently and keeping things interesting and being inventive,” says Farrant. “This was an idea that came up at a rehearsal the previous year and we spent a year talking about it, joking about it, and the more we talked about it, the better it sounded as an idea and as something that might work.”

Christmas may be over, but locals Astrocolor have left their collection of unique seasonal tunes to enjoy (photo by Kim Jay).

Christmas may be over, but locals Astrocolor have left their collection of unique seasonal tunes to enjoy (photo by Kim Jay).

While this is Astrocolor’s debut, the members are no novices to making music. Although they also play music together under the Weird Party moniker, Farrant says that they wanted to break away from that name for Lit Up.

“We felt it was such a departure from what Weird Party was doing that we’d release it under a different name,” he says.

The name Astrocolor is a reference to an old, then-cutting-edge movie technology, representing the band’s desire to forge ahead and innovate.

“Astrocolor was actually the original in-flight film technology from the ’60s,” says Farrant. “It ran on this analog tape on a reel through the entire fuselage. There was an eight-minute delay from the front of the plane to the back of the plane, so you could go back a few rows and catch the previous scene. We liked the idea of flight and travelling and being on a journey; we were trying the professional approach to going on a journey.”

The journey that led to the creation of Lit Up was a very enjoyable one, says Farrant.

“The most fun was taking the songs and really deconstructing them to their bare bones,” he says. “We took the core of the song, taking cues from [saxophonist] Stan Getz and a lot of the jazz greats from the ’50s and ’60s, and built them back up to the parts that everyone knows.”

While recording the album required meticulous care, many of the concepts behind it came from just jamming together.

“When we were coming up with the songs for the album, we did sit down in a living room together and plucked them apart and just jammed on them,” says Farrant. “We got the rough framework of them all. Then once we were in the studio we had to commit to a little more structure, and our producer really helped us with honing in on that.”

The album is sure to please those who are already fans of Christmas music, and it may just convert a few Grinches. As for what the future holds, Farrant says that in some form or another, Astrocolor will continue. Farrant says that the band signed with Last Gang Records for the Astrocolor album, and it may not be the last of the union.

“There’s an option for more,” he says. “We’ll see if they pick up to do more records. We retained the rights to record as Weird Party, so we’ll see how the future plays out. We’ll continue to do both and go wherever it takes us.”

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