Radio for the Daydreamers is a three piece experimental band hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their visual identity stayed unrevealed since the band’s formation in 2009. Since then they released two albums, one being the part of the triptych called “Praying for the Be(a)st”, which second part is due in this December. I talked to Aki Srivastava about the band’s tendencies and future.
Nick: Hello Aki, Radio for the Daydreamers is a pretty new name on the scene, mind introducing us to the band’s work?
Aki: Hi Nick. Certainly, Radio for the Daydreamers (RftD) was formed in 2009 with the best of intentions towards experimental music. We wrote our first album in the same year called “Clouds of Smoke and Poison” but it was more of a compilation of singles than an album. That record followed a dramatic change our approach to music and we have since been working on a triptych called “Praying for the Be(a)st”. We released the first part of the triptych called “Mother Superior and Her Fields of Migraine” in July, 2011 and are going to release the second part called “Praying for the Be(a)st” on December 2,2011.
Nick: It seems like your main interest is exploring the wide range of experimental music that threads through different subgenres. Have you reached the point beyond these subgenres that you can say “That’s it! No further“?
Aki: Actually, we don’t think that is possible at all. One should never have limitations when it comes to music. If we just keep following the same ideals then we are never going to be ourselves, which is why we try to keep an open mind about all music (mostly) and try to learn as much as we can about it.
Nick: The identity of the members of Radio for the Daydreamers has not been revealed so far, but on the other hand you keep up the interactions with your fans through social networks. Do you think that music reached the level where people do not care about the band’s identity and visuality due to the ever-growing presence of the Internet in daily lives?
Aki: I think the reason that we are so secretive is that we are trying to make our art define us as human beings instead of the other way around. It seems that most of the recent art, especially music, is treated like a medium for an autobiography. People like to write songs about their personal lives and that is what we avoid. We try to make our art abstract to the point where you have very little external evidence to it, and you can focus on our art instead of on us. A preoccupation with the artists takes much away from their art. However, I don’t think that people have stopped caring about the identity of the bands but since it is more accessible, it has definitely lost its value.
It also depends a lot on what kind of music you are talking about. It seems like now there are a lot musicians that want to be just that, Musicians. And that is not a new concept at all. We have always had a glaring dichotomy of artists and performers. So when you talk about musicians and performers (For instance, Ella Fitzgerald, who was mainly a performer and Oh! what a great one at that) people like to see who the band’s lead vocalist is and so on, and that makes sense. But as artists, we would rather make our art be the spectacle.
Nick: Your first album “Clouds of Smoke and Poison“ was released in 2009. There was an accent placed on post-rock and ambience with some influences from electronica. Compared to your newer works (Praying for the Be(a)st triptych), you made a significant step changing the pace towards a more avant-garde sound. Did it come as a natural progression or simply as a tendency to change to something different?
Aki: It was definitely a more natural progression. We learned a lot since we wrote “Clouds of Smoke and Poison” about music, music theory, life and literature. “Praying for the Be(a)st” is a collective effort of all that. We did not make an active decision to change our sound to what it is now but as we listened to (and understood) more music, this is just where we ended up.
Nick: In July you released first part of the “Praying for the Be(a)st“ trilogy named as “Mother Superior and her Fields of Migraine“. The second part of the trilogy is due in December, so it comes naturally to ask you where these two records stand in comparison.
Aki: Well, the two records are incredibly different from each other since we used a different approach to tell the story in each section. In “Mother Superior and Her Fields of Migraine” (MSAHFOM), all the songs were written as a narrative, while “Praying for the Be(a)st” is a narrative of the character’s internal (and sometimes infernal) monologues. Hence, the second part of the triptych is written from the perspective of the protagonist and is therefore a lot more chaotic and delusional. The approach to song writing was different for this record too. While Mother Superior gradually brought the listener in to the story, “Praying for the Be(a)st” is more direct but also very dark. One major progression is the sound. MSAHFOM had a melancholic feel to it but it still had moments of calm secrecy and detached ambience. We took all that away and what is left is something far more personal and therefore a lot darker.
Nick: Which bands/musicians have influenced your work with RftD?
Aki: It is hard to say what bands inspired us because we have picked up something or the other from a lot of music we listen to. We draw most of our inspirations from jazz, classical music, metal, and a lot of trip-hop. But we try to learn from all music, so it is hard to be specific without doing disservice to the artists we might forget.
Nick: It’s a tough task being authentic today, but your tunes carefully form an entity of hi-quality work. What’s your secret?
Aki: Haha, I don’t think we have a secret. We are just lucky to be living in a time where we can find great music, new and old, written by artists a lot more skilled and people a lot wiser than us.
Nick: In the biography, you say that Praying for the B(e)ast is the band’s live inauguration. Judging by what can be heard off the studio releases, I’m sure Radio for the Daydreamers will be a nice experience to see live. What are your plans for having the band rolling its wheels on the stage?
Aki: The live shows are going to be exciting because that will be a time where we get to truly experiment with our music. The shows will be based on the studio versions of the songs but will not be limited to it. We have kept a lot of room for jazz improvs and other experimentations so it would be a great experience for us and hopefully for the people who share it with us.
Nick: Which albums released in 2011 left the best impression on you? And which albums disappointed you to the point of disgust?
Aki: Unfortunately, we are quite behind in discovering music, somewhere in the 50s when it comes to jazz and a lot longer before that when it comes to classical music. So 2011 is a long ways away still.
Nick: To summarize, what comes next for RtfD?
Aki: We are currently working on our live shows and are writing for the final part of the triptych. The next immediate step in RftD world is live music though.
Nick: Is there anything you would love to add at the end of the interview?
Aki: We would like to thank all our fans for supporting us and we hope our art continues to impress them.