Interview: EXNATIONS

For many bands, having members that live in different states would spell the end. But EXNATIONS took this in stride, each member recording their contribution to the band’s latest single “Never About The Money” in separate places. The resulting single doesn’t feel disjointed or fragmented. “Never About The Money” is a smooth slice of 80s-inspired synth-pop, ready-made for dance parties, and perfectly poised to gain the band some well-deserved attention.
Listen to their two singles “Free” and “Never About The Money”
Similar to: ROMES, High Tyde, tiLLie
How did you guys meet?
Taylor: I met Dan first, him and I had been in contact here and there from running in the Baltimore music scene. When it came to looking for a guitarist he was one of the first people to come to mind. Once Dan and I figured out the sound we were going for Sal came next. I ventured up north to meet Sal in Brooklyn, NY at Rough Trade, we immediately clicked and begun writing ‘Never About the Money.’
If you could describe your music in one word, what would it be?

Dan: I’m usually bad at being concise, but the word I’d use to describe our music is sincere. One of the most rewarding aspects of making music is being able to connect with people, and that’ll never happen if we write songs without putting thought into it and making sure they represent us well. To me, doing that would be disrespectful. Our listeners aren’t stupid, and if they’re taking time out of their days to give us a chance, then why wouldn’t they deserve our best effort?

Where did the band name EXNATIONS come from?
Taylor: In a way the band name is paying homage to all of our past bands. We’re all “EX” members of a band coming together to create a new unit i.e. “NATION.” I also just really liked the vibe the name gave off.
What do you think is the perfect environment for listening to your music?
Sal: My favorite places to listen to music are when I’m in transit. When you discover a new album, it makes my morning or evening commute a special experience. I can’t wait to get out of work so I can put on a record and jam to it the whole subway ride home. I think the perfect place to listen to EXNATIONS is when you’re on the move. Literally and figuratively.
Your music has a lot of 80s vibes. Do you pull inspiration from that era?
Sal: I had a very brief phase in high school where I wouldn’t listen to anything that came out after 1989. Once I had exhausted the better part of the Dischord Records catalogue I had to make some concessions. Nowadays I find myself really gravitating towards 80s rock and pop. Springsteen, Talking Heads, ABBA, and New Order are all top of mind lately. The production in 80s pop was so special – it can sometimes sound completely dated and “of its time” – while simultaneously sounding classic and timeless. Artists like Brandon Flowers, Bleachers, and the 1975 are paying serious homage to the production styles of the time but injecting enough of their own personalities into it that it creates this wonderful new thing. Hopefully we’re touching on some of that same magic.

Your latest single “Never About The Money” was recently released, and was recorded with all the band members in different places. What was that process like?

Dan: I would say it tested our discipline for sure. If we want this to work while being in different cities, then there has to be a proficiency in communication and organization, and you also have to have a lot of respect for your collaborators. Sending your files to other bandmates and letting them tinker with them isn’t something a thin-skinned person could do. But fortunately, each of us trusts each other’s songwriting ability, and as a result, seeing NATM come together the way it did was ultimately a really rewarding experience.
I love the single artwork for “Never About The Money,” and it matches the color scheme for your lyric video as well. How did you come up with that visual theme?
Sal: It happened really organically. Taylor and I were in a coffee shop messing around with some layouts for the album cover, and stumbled across this really beautiful textural photo by a photographer from Madrid named Joel Filipe. The image was so beautiful and visually arresting. With a little color correction and VHS-style glitch manipulation it came to life as the driving visual element in the lyric video. I love how simple, yet versatile it is. Big ups to Joel.

You’re planning on releasing an EP some time in the next few months. How’s that going?

Dan: It’s going one track at a time! We’re really eager to get these songs out, but doing it right comes before doing it fast. We’re continuing to write and revise every day, so when the time comes to introduce the record to everyone, we want to be able to enjoy the experience knowing we put everything possible into it. Using that approach hasn’t lended us a lot of sleep recently, but that’ll come back soon enough.
Do you have any other plans for the near future?
Taylor: We’re going to be releasing ‘Distant Drums’ a new single next month, so definitely be on the look out for that! Maybe there’s a limited addition 7” coming along behind that… The rest is top secret for now!
Listen to “Never About The Money” here.

Discover: tiLLie

Alt-pop singer tiLLie is stepping things up a notch with her new singles “Pink & Blue” and “Save Yourself.” Her brand of melodic, ambient pop is sugary sweet on the surface, but her darker lyrics betray the emotion behind the glossy pop sound. With her newest singles, tiLLie has moved away from more straight-forward acoustic pop and expanded her use of production elements and synth melodies to create a somewhat eerie, always atmospheric style. tiLLie has created a moody pink and blue aesthetic that echoes the depth of expression in her music, and based on her newest material, she’s got something fantastic planned for the near future.

Watch the video for tiLLie’s newest single “Save Yourself” below, and catch tiLLie on Warped Tour all summer.

Favorites: “Pink & Blue,” “Save Yourself,” “Lost Boy”

Similar to: Against The Current, SAINTE, Moxi