New York art rock/EDM duo Dynasty Electric took an unorthodox approach when recording their recent album Euphoria. The band put early versions of the songs on social networks and asked electronic musicians across the globe to remix the tracks. The response was astounding: hundreds of submissions in a dizzying array of genres, from classical to dubstep. I talked to guitarist/saxophonist/producer Seth Misterka about how the open-source idea came about as well as the band’s decade-long journey.
I’m intrigued by the open-source, crowd-funded concept behind Euphoria. How did that idea come about? Do you see increased fan involvement becoming commonplace in the music industry?
In 2012 we had a remix contest on Indaba Music for our single “Eye Wide Open”. We loved hearing what different producers brought to the track and in the end we received nearly 500 remixes from around the world. Based on that experience, we thought it would be great to make an entire album in an “open source” manner, incorporating the styles and perspectives of the international community. We started a media company NewSonic (Frenchkiss Label Group), and launched a crowd-funding campaign on PledgeMusic. With both remixing and crowd funding, fan involvement is definitely becoming more commonplace in the music world.
You don’t see a lot of Theremin mentions in band biographies. What attracted you to that instrument?
Before getting into dance music, I was heavily into experimental music and loved the Theremin. We wanted a space-controlled instrument for Jenny Electrik, and the Theremin was what immediately came to mind.
You’ve been making electronic dance music since 2003. During that time, the genre has exploded in popularity. What’s it been like seeing some of your contemporaries become household names? Do you see this as a positive development?
In New York, EDM was very underground when we started. No one even called it EDM at the time. I think the overall rise in popularity of the music has benefited us.
Your hometown Brooklyn has given rise to some pretty acclaimed musicians. What is it about the borough that makes it a hotbed for sonic creativity?
Brooklyn, and NYC in general, is a global magnet, and what’s happening is more of a global phenomenon. All these great artists from around the states and the world have descended on Brooklyn and everyone is inspiring each other. It’s pretty amazing to have been part of a major evolution in Williamsburg.
Your music has a highly infectious quality. Can you describe your approach to songwriting?
Each time we write a song, it feels like the first time. Generally, one of us will have an idea about the music or lyrics that serves as a spark and then we keep sharing and building from there. It’s a very collaborative process between the two of us.
Psychedelia and EDM seems like an unlikely combination. What inspired you to put these two genres together? Were any bands or artists influential in this regard?
We came from the band world so when we started off with electronic music, we wanted to keep live instruments in the mix. The idea was something like what would Hendrix, or Jefferson Airplane sound like with beats?
I’m curious about the party series put on by Newsonic, your multi-media and events company. Tell us a little about these parties.
The NewSonic parties are an eclectic scene of musicians, visual artists and visionaries. They usually get pretty wild. We lived in a big loft in Williamsburg until 2011, and that’s was where it got started. Sometimes the parties lasted for days, featuring everything from Latin electro, to hip-hop, experimental, indie rock, folk, metal, classical, you name it. With the wealth of talent in Brooklyn, the Newsonic loft became a hub for many great musicians and bands including Battles, Twin Shadow, Oneida, Brian Chase and also attracted a number of visionary organizations, including Evolver, Unitribe, Green Bus Tour, and Damon Dash’s DD172. We’ve recently moved the party to the Greenpoint Gallery.
“Floating Around The Sun” is a personal favorite. Was there a specific inspiration or story behind that track?
While working on our open source album, we received the instrumental of the track from a producer in Jamaica, TC Campbell. The idea for the chorus came to me right away, then Jenny wrote the verses and I added electric guitar parts. Then the track was mixed and mastered in London, England by Nova Glam.
What are your plans for the rest of 2014?
We are making videos for the other songs on the new album EUPHORIA. We just completed one for “Sea In Your Eyes”, next we’ll be making one for “Night Light”. Also, check out Supersonic. We’ll be doing a bit of touring this summer, and we’re also working on new music. Stay tuned! http://www.dynastyelectric.net/