Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
Sometimes a band needs a little magic on their side. After struggling to find a replacement for their lead singer, Stroamata’s magic came in the form of a co-worker of guitarist Rob Morrison, who would help the band, then completely disappear.
“I worked at a travel agency at the time,” Morrison remembers, “and the guy next to me heard me complaining that I’d interviewed like a dozen singers and only had one or two come in to actually audition, and he said ‘I run this theater and I have this woman teaching acting for me (Dara Eagle), she’s a singer, and she actually has a show this Friday. I’ll come after rehearsal, so meet me there.’ I went to the club. He actually never showed up. He ran late with his thing, but I knew it was her, so I introduced myself, and I asked her if it was something she’d be interested in.”
Eagle came in to audition, and blew everyone away. Stroamata had found their new lead singer, but they were never able to thank the man that made the connection happen. Eagle, mystified, says, “We haven’t seen him since.”
According to Morrison, “He quit the job I was working in. I (left messages where I) told him she’s worked out as my singer, and we’re dating, and we literally have never heard back from him.”
The addition of Eagle to a lineup that already included Morrison, as well as bassist Akil Marshall, and drummer Alexander Markowitz, was the final piece of the Stroamata puzzle. It was also crucial step in an evolution of a band that had gone from being led by rappers, and wanting to sound like The Roots, to mixing trip-hop with rock.
Markowitz remembers seeing acts like Zero 7, and Portishead, and says, “At the time it wasn’t really a stretch at all in our minds.” The live performance aspect, however, wasn’t fulfilling enough for the band, as Eagle notes, “We wanted to see people dancing more, and we wanted to interact with our audience more, and not just kinda like present for them.”
The solution was simple, as Stroamata cranked up the rock aspect of their music to get people moving, and broke out some sound activated lighting. Markowitz explains the band’s unique lighting arrangement, saying, “We like this idea of playing in the dark, and all these lights flashing. It makes us the center of what’s going on. We have some hooked up to the vocals, some hooked up to the drums, some just hooked up to the general sound. Personally, as the one who plays drums, once I figured out how I can actually control my dynamics, and then control the lighting, how hard I hit that kick is shown in what the lights are doing. It’s almost an official representation of when it’s getting pumping.”
Another way the Boston transplants, who’ve spent the past two and a half years in Brooklyn, have been connecting with audiences is through their lyrics, which deal with the realities of a generation whose lives are underrepresented in music.
Markowitz explains, “We specifically write, think about, and want to be representative of our particular generation, which is now late 20s to early 30s. We feel that our generation is unlike that previous to ours because we don’t all have mortgages, we live in a way that we’re not immediately expected to be adults, but we still have adult responsibilities, we have student loans, we have all these things.”
He adds, “For us it’s very important to play music for those who are going through things that we go through, and we’re not going through anything unique, we’re just like everybody else, honestly ... we’ve all had broken hearts, we’ve all been in love, we’ve all struggled, we’ve all succeeded, and that’s what we want to represent, so the idea of Stroamata is it is a representation of our generation that’s currently trapped in a transition.”
This is also how the band defines their name, although Markowitz notes, “We made up the word, so when we’re ready to change the definition, we will, and when we’re ready to change the style of music, we will.”
In addition to those possible future changes, Stroamata are also changing the way music is being released. Constantly creating new content, and realizing that music fans are currently more interested in singles than albums, Stroamata released a new song every month in 2013 through their Bandcamp page, and they plan on continuing with that blueprint throughout 2014.
It’s a cutting edge move for a band that’s continually evolving right alongside its fan base, and even if the man who helped them connect with their lead singer never reappears, Stroamata will continue to connect with their generation trapped in transition.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.