Edmonton, Alberta prog rockers Sleeping In Traffic returned in March with the release of their sophomore studio album ‘Feminism‘ (read our review here), which “is essentially an introduction and an invitation to this social movement.” The band’s self-titled full-length debut was released in November 2014. Following their appearance on our Progotronics 2 compilation, we talked with singer Cory Bosse about the creative process behind ‘Feminism,’ but also some other topics.
Define the mission of Sleeping In Traffic.
Sleeping In Traffic operates under one simple rule: always move forward. This refers both to the music and the band as an entity. There is no true end goal for where we want to take the band, we simply ask ourselves each time “What comes next?” Musically we do this as well, with the implication being “something new“. We always try to be exploring new ground, so don’t ever expect to hear the same album twice.
Tell me about the creative process that informed your new, second studio album Feminism and the themes it captures.
The album started with a group of songs that we started to fuse together at the ends, having them morph into one another. This prompted us to approach the entire album this way, and to suggest that it might be a concept album. For this I knew I would need something I could write extensively and passionately about. The music was progressive and challenging and it seemed appropriate to mirror that. Writing the lyrics involved a lot of collaboration with people from marginalized groups, in order to ensure that the ideas were inclusive and effective.
The album is meant to be an invitation. While it is often wildly misunderstood, feminism is fundamentally about trying to improve the lives of others. It is a social movement that asks you to considering the long-reaching consequences of the way you treat others, and to question these ingrained biases that we are raised with, in order to ultimately uplift and benefit all our lives. More specifically, to recognize the challenges faced by women, people of color, queer, trans, and differently-abled folk. The album invites you to embrace this perspective, or in the very least, to not stand in its way.
How did you document the music while it was being formulated?
For the vast majority of this album, the music was primarily documented in our heads. We rarely even mapped out riffs on a whiteboard or some such. The earliest actual documentation was in the form of demos we recorded for pre-production (which took place shortly after the nightmare of creating tempo maps for everything).
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?
While the effect of each song flowing to the next was of course carefully architected, the dynamic flow just sort of grew from that naturally. We were quite pleased with how it evolved, as we feel these soothing parts kind of reset your mind and prepare you for the next burst of intensity. All in all, it balances really well, and it kind of just worked out that way.
Describe the approach to recording the album.
Both myself and the bass player Ryan are recording engineers, so we had the pleasure of having full control over this process from start to finish. Pre-production was extremely thorough, and we probably practiced recording the album 2 or 3 times before ever hitting the studio. We rented various studios to track the drums, horns, gang vocals, and to reamp guitars. The rest was done in my modest (read: cramped) basement studio, from guitar tracking to synth to vocals. Hammond organ and Rhodes piano were each recorded in the basements where our friends kept them. After recording, Ryan and I tag-teamed the mixing process, which was a method we had never attempted before. Thankfully, we work incredibly well together and it was highly successful.
How long Feminism was in the making?
Not counting the writing process (songs grew and shaped over a year or two), we started recording on March 12, 2016, and released the album on March 11, 2017. So a full year minus a day.
Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?
All of the band members tend to listen to a huge range of music, and we pull inspiration from all of it. To just list the artists that inform my vocal style and vocal melodies would be way too long. But during the mixing process, we were very actively referencing Between The Buried And Me, in particular their recent release Coma Ecliptic, as well as Opeth‘s Sorceress as a set of standards for where we wanted the sound and quality of our music to reside.
What is your view on technology in music?
Modern technology is a powerful and important tool for music, and we as a band delve very deep into that realm. We generally have a computer at all our shows, running our click tracks and light shows, sometimes running VST synths for me to control on stage. We utilize a rackmounted digital mixer and manage our own in-ear monitor mixes from our phones/tablets. All of this makes our shows run very efficiently, and the synced up nature of everything causes a greater impact. We love fusing technology into our music and embrace it!
Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?
With this recent album, I hope to have made my intent clear to reach deeper than just a source of entertainment. With any luck, many minds that were opposed or uncertain will be opened to the ideas I’ve presented. And hopefully, people who are familiar with the concepts, or who are most deeply impacted by the issues it addresses, will find a welcoming place in this music. I anticipate facing a lot of opposition on this, but I felt that having a platform like this without using it to try and improve things would be a waste.
What are your plans for the future?
We already have a lot of music planned out, and it’s going to explore a lot of new musical ideas. Two short albums are already almost written, and we have a third very special concept planned that we’ve been itching to do for some time. For the band, we hope to expand our touring grounds outside of western Canada, and as always, continue to boost the quality and innovate with the production of our live shows.