In the bustling landscape of Brooklyn’s progressive and art rock scene, Changing Modes, led by the dynamic Wendy Griffiths, emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Wendy, alongside her bandmates Grace Pulliam, Yuzuru Sadashige, Timur Yusef, and Sawa Tamezane, embarked on a musical journey that defied conventional boundaries.
Introduction: A Musical Journey Begins
Wendy recalls her childhood favorites like Yes, the Zombies, and Sparks. She paints a vivid picture of her diverse influences, including classical composers like Prokofiev and Bartok, setting the stage for her return to the rock world.
Wendy Griffiths: “I loved bands like Yes, the Zombies, and Sparks and also was very into composers like Prokofiev, Ligeti, and Bartok.”
Featured Track: “Alexander Springs” Unveiled
The spotlight turns to their featured track on the “Progstravaganza: Harmony in Complexity” compilation, “Alexander Springs.” Wendy reveals the inspiration behind the song, driven by a friend’s tales of houses, people, and manatees in the springs. Her desire to create a Baroque pop masterpiece led to intricate string arrangements reminiscent of Eleanor Rigby, played beautifully by Amy Boyd.
“At the time, I had a friend who told me about Alexander Springs, about the houses, the people and how you can swim with manatees in the springs.”
Creative Process: Crafting Musical Narratives
As they delve into their creative process, Wendy emphasizes the parallels between good songwriting and film scoring. For Changing Modes, the lyrics guide their decisions on style and sound. Wendy explains how their release, “What September Brings,” showcases the band’s evolution towards stylistic diversity, a testament to their deepening creative process over time.
“Good songwriting is a lot like good film scoring in that the music heightens the impact of the words/drama.”
Influences: Shaping a Unique Sound
The narrative unfolds to reveal the influences that left an indelible mark on Changing Modes. Early Sparks, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, ELO, and Zappa all played a role in shaping their distinctive sound. Wendy’s admiration for Zappa’s stylistic collages, King Crimson’s harmonic influence, and Pink Floyd’s guidance on blending electronic and orchestral instruments becomes apparent.
“Early Sparks, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, ELO, and Zappa are all groups that imprinted me.”
The Music Industry: Overcoming Challenges
Navigating the music industry comes with its challenges. Wendy highlights the tendency to pigeonhole artists, a clash with Changing Modes’ commitment to individuality. Her insistence on maintaining high standards, irrespective of release timelines, becomes a cornerstone in overcoming these challenges.
“There is a tendency for A&R reps to try to get you to one thing, so they can brand you.”
Evolution: A Shifting Musical Landscape
As they explore the evolving music scene, Wendy expresses joy in witnessing artists carve out their unique niches. Advocating for independent artists, she emphasizes the importance of collaborative tours akin to group art shows, fostering a community where audiences can discover diverse musical expressions.
“More and more artists are creating their own stylistic niche, something I am extremely happy to see!”
Your Journey: Milestones and Favorites
Memorable moments, such as playing at M.E.O.W. Con in Austin and NXNE in Toronto, become cherished milestones in Changing Modes’ journey. Wendy’s personal favorites, “The Fly” and “Shangri-la,” stand out for their continuous evolution in form, embodying the band’s commitment to artistic growth.
“Playing M.E.O.W. Con in Austin was pretty special. Also, NXNE in Toronto was amazing.”
Future Plans: Teasing New Horizons
Looking to the future, Changing Modes teases a new record in the spring, featuring guest instrumentalists. Wendy’s excitement about being part of the “Progstravaganza: Harmony in Complexity” compilation stems from the prospect of reaching a global audience appreciative of envelope-pushing music.
“Changing Modes will be releasing a new record in the spring, which includes some wonderful guest instrumentalists.”
Compilation Experience: Global Connections
To their fans discovering their music through the compilation, Wendy encourages exploration of their entire catalog, hinting at a new record named “Pinwheels.” As the story unfolds, the quickfire round reveals dreams of collaborating with the Stranglers, a preference for mastering the electric bass, and a deep appreciation for Sparks by Sparks.
“I’m very excited to reach listeners all over the world who enjoy music that pushes the envelope.”
Closing Thoughts: Supporting Independent Artists
In the closing words, Wendy urges audiences to continue supporting quality independent artists, recognizing the challenges they face. The tale concludes with invitations to connect on Changing Modes’ website and social media platforms, ensuring the audience can be part of the ongoing narrative of this Brooklyn-based progressive force.
“Keep supporting quality independent artists. It’s a hard row to hoe for all of them so let them know you appreciate what they do!”
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