We spoke to melodic dance duo Crystal Skies about the creation of their album Not Since When, their upcoming tour, and an unlikely collaborator.
Guide me through the story of creating your newest album, Not Since When.
During the pandemic, we both found ourselves looking for ways to handle the unexpected change in the world while not losing creativity and inspiration. Often we found ourselves looking back at experiences we had when we were younger and reliving the memories of those times.
This naturally led to the idea of the album—an opportunity to write a full collection of songs to represent the feelings we used to have in years past, both positive and negative, as a way to escape temporarily from the present moment and remember the experiences that we had along the way. In doing so we found ourselves drawing inspiration from the music that shaped us during that time, resulting in the alt-rock, pop-punk, and folk influences on the music we created.
In the end, we were able to work with some amazingly talented vocalists, musicians, and producers along the way, and we are both really happy with how the album came out. We can’t wait to share this music with everyone at shows and festivals in the upcoming months!
In the past two years, how do you think you’ve changed as artists, and as people? Do you feel like these changes in yourself are reflected in the album?
Our music has definitely evolved in recent times, and we’re always trying to make sure that our sound is moving forward and experimenting with new ideas. Part of the idea for the album was to combine our melodic dubstep sound with the guitars and acoustic drums of pop, rock, and punk. Electronic music is usually very polished, while these new types of sounds are much rawer, so it was interesting to see how the two approaches worked together. In the future I’m sure we will continue to experiment with new ideas, always trying to keep the sound we’ve established so far while trying to push boundaries in other areas. That’s one way to make sure that the process of creating music remains fresh and interesting, and keeps us motivated to continue producing new music.
Where are you most excited to play a show, and why?
I’m excited about the opportunity to play in my hometown of Minneapolis again. That should be really fun and I’ve been going to all the venues there for years so it’s always amazing to perform at them as well. Aside from that, there are many other cities that are really fun to play in as well. Too many to name here, each city always has a few things that make it different from the rest. One of the best parts of touring is the ability to see the entire country (and sometimes out of the country) and meet people from all over through a shared love of music.
What do you like to do to creatively recharge?
Personally, I like to go on hikes, runs, or walks, pretty much anything outside that gets me moving. Usually while listening to some different music than what I normally produce, anything from hip hop or lofi to jazz, ambient, cinematic, usually something along those lines. I’ve found that after taking some time away from the studio, the process of making music usually flows a lot better even if it felt blocked before.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were starting out, what would it be?
Mainly, just make the music you want to hear because that’s what will inspire you to continue. Don’t be afraid to try new things in your music if those are the things that you are excited about. Music has a much bigger impact than most people realize and you never know when a song you made will make a big difference in someone’s life.
Who do you hope to perform with this year? What can we expect from a live set?
We’ve got a big year planned! We started with our back-to-back set with Nurko at Beyond Wonderland, and now head into our tour where we will be playing alongside some other great artists. We aim to make our live set a unique and unforgettable experience, with everything from melodic and heavy dubstep to DnB, trance, and whatever tunes we’re really into at that moment in time! We’re really excited about our upcoming tour and we’ve worked hard to build a set that combines the new sounds from our album with the past and present influences that brought us to this point.
What’s the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
Forgetting the MIDI keyboard is on, writing some beautiful chords, playing them back and enjoying it, and then the cat jumps on the MIDI keyboard and now it’s 12 tone music. Happens more often than I would like to admit. Occasionally I will take a few notes from the cat’s melody and keep it. Unfortunately, the cat’s understanding of voice leading and phrasing is rudimentary at best, and her understanding of functional harmony leaves a lot to be desired. Her use of tone clusters and complex polyrhythms would fit much better in 20th century modern classical music than they would in melodic dubstep. Nonetheless, I appreciate and admire her desire to contribute!
Follow Crystal Skies on Spotify.