Foreign Air Interview + Exclusive Playlist

Jesse Clasen and Jacob Michael of the duo, Foreign Air, are ready to make their debut. For years the duo have crafted a sound and style that is specific to their creativity. Connecting with one another while performing in different bands, the two musicians went on to join forces and decided to release music together, as Foreign Air.
Grinding with noteworthy performances at a slew of festivals which include Firefly and Hangout, while also touring with the likes of Bishop Briggs and Phantogram, the duo expanded their audience and became ones to watch. Their music have impressed listeners along the way, and despite not releasing a full length album, Foreign Air managed to receive over 100 million streams while also soundtracking campaigns for Nike, Microsoft, Samsung, and more.
With an already impressive resume, Foreign Air are ready to release their debut album, Good Morning Stranger. Scheduled to be released on Friday, October 16, the duo participate in an Q&A surprising the album while also curating a playlist of songs that have inspired the album:
Where did the name Foreign Air originate from?
Jesse and I met over a decade ago while touring in different bands.  Both of those projects were more traditional rock bands in the sense that a group of people got together in a room and hashed out song ideas.  However, those projects had eventually run their course and we were both looking for an outlet to do something completely new and different creatively.  We started to get deeper into electronic production and surrounded ourselves with Moog synths and different various drum machines that we had never used before.  By getting to learn new these new foreign tools it inspired a burst of creativity in the songwriting which led to a lot of the earliest Foreign Air ideas like "Free Animal".  To us, this process felt like a much-needed breath of fresh air.  We had a Dropbox folder where we would share ideas back and forth that Jesse labeled Foreign Air.  I think the name just stuck from there.
You guys are readying the release of your debut album. What’s the feeling like?
We are very excited about finally releasing a full body of work out into the world.  It’s something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time because we both grew up listening to listening to albums by artists like  Nirvana, Pink Floyd and Green Day.  I vividly remember listening to certain records over and over again on the bus on my way to school before the whole Spotify singles thing hit.  I don’t think one format is necessarily better than the other, just different.  However, as a fan of music, I love listening to a full body of work from an artist.  It’s a  special experience that brings you in closer to the artist and gives you a more personal glimpse into the artist's life and what they may have been going through when they wrote those songs.  Singles tend to be more of a statement in my opinion.
Is there a specific concept behind the album?
Metal Health, a relationship ending, and loneliness are all prevalent themes on the album.  All three concocted together with a healthy dose of curiosity about the future of the world.  The title of the album “Good Morning Stranger” is an introduction. It’s about re-learning to greet the unfamiliar with a childlike like sense of compassion and curiosity. I think if we could all re-learn how to do that with each other just then maybe the world would start to be a kinder place.

It’s been said that the album was inspired by Morricone western scores. Can you guys name any in particular that really made an impact on the recording?
Ennio Morricone’s Italian spaghetti western soundtracks inspired a lot of the guitars and soundscapes that run prominently throughout the album.  The soundtrack for  “The Good The Bad and The Ugly" was one that probably inspired us the most.  His music is so visceral to me.  It instantly takes me out of whatever I am doing and sweeps me to some faraway place and changes my mood completely.   We really tried to capture that feeling on "The Apartment” especially on the bridge of that song.  Also, on "Ultra Mega Love” as well.  It’s hard to listen to those two songs and not hear a direct correlation to Morricone’s  "The Ecstasy of Gold”.

What’s been the most challenging experience with accomplishing the completion of the album?
The most challenging part for us was probably finishing.  We kept adding new songs and altering other ideas all the way up until it was time to submit the album.  Originally, we had an entirely different album done about a year ago and did a headline tour leading up to the release and everything.  However, right before the tour, Jesse moved from New York to Los Angeles and accidentally shipped the wrong hard drive on a truck across the country so we missed our deadline to submit the album.  After the tour, we had some time to take a couple of weeks to step back and digest the album and I think naturally we both just started writing again and became more enthusiastic about some of the newer stuff we were coming up.  I think we are both always writing and creating and experimenting with things at all times. So sometimes it takes our manager Will to come in and help us focus and create “anchors” in our schedule so we know where deadlines and cut-offs are around tour dates etc … Otherwise, we end up with a batch of 50 + songs sitting on a hard drive somewhere lol.
How did you guys manage to get creative during quarantine? What has it been like creating under certain restrictions?
Ironically I think it came somewhat natural for us.  Jesse and I have always lived apart from each other.  When we started Foreign Air he was in North Carolina and I was in Washington DC.  So we learned pretty early on how to work apart from each other by sharing ideas and uploading Logic Pro sessions to Dropbox.  However, we recently started using Audio Movers "Listen To”  plug-in which allows you to share audio in realtime with anyone, anywhere in the world,  at any given time.  That has been the biggest game-changer in terms of collaboration.  It’s essentially made it seamless to work remotely and still feel like you are in the same room with someone.  We used it to finish mixing the album together and more recently we started using it to collaborate with other artists.  Last week we wrote a song with Adam French who was in the UK.  So you have 3 people in 3 different time zones all working together to create something from scratch.  The FUTURE IS GOING TO BE  WILD… or maybe just more remote?
Have you figured out what’s next? Where do you want the album to take you guys?
Right now our primary focus is giving the album a proper release.  We had plans to tour the US and Europe around the release of Good Morning Stenger however due to COVID that is no longer going to be the case.  I think it would be really great to use this time to set up a studio somewhere completely isolated from the world for a month and come back with the next body of work.  We spent 3 years writing this album in different cities all over the US.  I think you can hear a lot of those differences in the songs sonically.  When I listen to the album I can hear that these songs were written in Nashville, and this was written in New York and this batch of songs came from this period of time in LA. I think is really cool but naturally now I want something completely different on the next one. 

Playlist of songs that have inspired the album:
We put together a playlist of songs that heavily inspired Good Morning Stranger through themes of distorted drum machine loops and lyrical cut-ups that were both touched and manipulated with a great deal of curiosity.  Also, prevalent throughout the album are Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western sounds blended with futuristic synths heavily drenched in spacey reverbs and echo’s that we hope will help one lose themselves in this album the same way we did”. 

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