Jason Holstrom of United State of Electronica, Aqueduct, Wonderful, etc, has rechristened himself with the star sailing vehicle, Tonight Sky. The Seattle artist takes his Pacific Northwest projections and audio concepts inspired by watching the ocean water's reflections of the evening's ceiling. Holstrom follows his footprint trails in the sand that are rooted in childhood memories from Oregon's Cannon Beach, and all along the cosmonautic coastline.
In our debut of Tonight Sky's “Flight of the Falling Star”, the star begins like relaxed contemplations on a vast and illustrious display of bright dotted constellations. The electronic spaceship effects dovetail with wind chimes that keep a harmony of nature intertwining in a seamless fashion with the analogue and digital accoutrements. Either consciously or not, Holstrom has written the existential follow up to the classic nursery rhyme of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, personifying the travels of a comet or star in transition. A back beat orbits throughout the song in understated ways beneath the rich textures of soothing synths. The airy mix and oceanic beach-by-night interludes all support the boundless and endless wonder, as Jason's words remain in the atmosphere, long after the flight has commenced. “Is it true that, we go on forever, will we shine together, in the end?”
Jason Holstrom talked with us about the influential road that lead to Tonight Sky, the new album, items in the works, and thoughts about fatherhood.
Describe for us the roads and transitions from United State of Electronica, Aqueduct, and so forth that have lead you to create Tonight Sky.
U.S.E was a dance party rock collaboration between a best friends including the guys from our previous band Wonderful. Exploring the musical infinite with Wonderful and rocking the party with U.S.E really taught me alot about how to feel and create music. I was often at the helm during the recording of both of these bands and this gave me some training to take on some studio projects such as Aqueduct, who was a band that U.S.E met through touring together and became good friends. I've always made music on my own but The Thieves of Kailua was my first proper solo record. To me, Tonight Sky is the follow up to Thieves despite its stylistic differences. I guess I just always love trying something new, I think each release will use a different palette. Tonight Sky definitely echoes some of the skyward dreaming of Wonderful. To me, it's an all new thing which is what's most exciting about making music. Perhaps glancing back but primarily looking forward.
There seems to be a real obsession with skyward objects, like the amazing dream beat pop galaxy of “Flight of the Falling Star”. What is it about the worlds above that finds you attracted to their dimensions, spheres and intergalactic inspirations?
Everything about the sky and space is so visually beautiful and exciting. The colors and textures in the sky are very musical and inspire mood and melody. I love the realization that we are just stuck to this spinning rock hurling through a inconceivably large space, it can sound chaotic but then you zoom out and realize the order and harmony of the orbits of the planets and the chemistry of the stars. To really grasp how small we are in the scheme of things and what exists out in the cosmos was very exciting to me. If you try to put our life on Earth in perspective of what is or what may be out in space, it really can be staggering and inspiring. This drove alot of the lyrical and musical ideas that turned into Tonight Sky.
What is your secret to sequencing the best sounding and beat synth-swimming cut?
This one started with a piano jam over a synth arpeggio and kick drum, the song and melody grew from there. The melody is key, then trying to create a bed of sound that fits the propulsion and cadence of the tune. There are many layers of airy synth pads and ocean recordings that sorta loop and fade in and out creating an ever-changing air. This song called for something super driving and strong in the bass and beat and then ethereal and ambient up top. This one had such a large scope to it, I really tried to build it up and make it feel like a intergalactic dance club climax. I'd love to hear a remix of this one, it went through so many iterations that I'm sure it could still get better.
We hear you are about to become a father, how is the role of fatherhood like and/or unlike bringing a new album and life into the world?
This is an interesting time for sure. I didn't intend the album to come out in the same month as the child but the record really needed someone else to tell me to 'put it out already.' I guess it was our little one that finally said that. She hasn't been born yet but I can thank her for making me put this thing out. To complete and release this music now is perfect timing as my life will become devoted to staring at and caring for this beautiful new life. Releasing music feels more like an end, whereas the birth of the child is a great beginning. Usually, once I put out a new record, I don't listen to it much. I think when the baby comes out I'll be listening to her nonstop.
What is next for Tonight Sky post-release?
I'd love to make a bunch of videos to present the record visually. I have some of that in the works. Beyond that I'm excited about finding a way to play this music live. I'd love to create a deep mood live, based on the album's themes rather than just playing the songs. The new music I'm making is more outside of the computer created live with a bunch of electronics. Hopefully this could translate into a Tonight Sky show. I've also been working on hours of ambient background music to clear the listeners head. Probably there will be home made nature videos to accompany the tracks.
How will you juggle parenting, and everything else musically?
I've been asking myself that for 9 months. I feel really good about the situation that we're bringing the little one into. I probably won't spend a lot of time down in the studio for the first bit, but I'll need to get back down here eventually to remain sane. I'm sure that my next record will be far less labored than Tonight Sky. Music making time will be more focused. I'm looking forward to capturing earlier ideas and presenting them sooner. There is more power and depth in the raw. Beyond that, I am looking forward to meeting my new muse and teaching her how to use my modular synthesizer. Although maybe we should start with the Beach Boys.
Thanks for hanging and talking to us, Jason!
My pleasure. Thanks for all of your thoughtful questions. Enjoy the music!
The Tonight Sky self-titled LP will be available November 5 from Sunstrom Sound.