Photo Kaitlin Christy
New York’s newest hip pop fusion duo ASTR sold out Los Angeles’ Troubador last Saturday. During a Drake cover, Zoe Silverman, lead girl, leapt onto the stage right speaker, before grinding the air in a white leather bustier, a camo hoodie tied around her waist. The youngish crowd was not as nauseatingly trendy as I expected, running a gamete from aesthetically misguided hipsters to normal gays to aspiring wiggers. However “eclectic” the crowd, the combination of Zoe’s enigmatic performance and Adam’s technical ability had the room dancing, something I haven’t seen a group of white people do at a hipster show in I don”t know how long.
ASTR comes as a bit of a new breed, part of a wave of sound defining the future of pop music. A new, cumulative school, combining pop, R&B and electronic with a grungy Brooklyn aesthetic. Think after-hours trance with waves of Rihanna and Drake taking place in the confines of the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video if it had been filmed at Westway, the Manhattan diso that was once a strip club. Basically, a cross-section of everything popular; a musical, physical embodiment of what’s hip right now. Their balance of pop star charisma and technical composition is strong, bringing a club turn up to the electro/indie vibe.
After a roar of applause, I met ASTR upstairs in their dressing room to smoke a joint in the bathroom.
Where are you guys from?
Zoe: NYC! Well, I’m originally from New York City. Adam’s from Boston, but he’s lived here ten years.
How did ASTR come to be?
Z: Our friend introduced us. It was just fooling around at first, seeing what came out.
Adam: I was introduced to her as a dope singer I should work with. We ended up hitting it off and started writing songs together.
Z: We didn’t really have an intention, it’s almost a lack of intention that defined the sound. We didn’t have the intention of making a band either, it was more of just a writing thing.
You music is a culmination of current pop culture: Pop, indie, R&B, club banger, pop star charisma, technical ability in production, Drake even.
A: We don’t really think about genres at all. Our musical taste comes from a similar place.
Z: We think about what we like and we’re not afraid of the word pop. All the sounds are blending together to this catchy thing. You want the best of everything now. That happened with our writing process, we carved out. It has a little bit of everything.
Z: We don’t really think of it as indie though. Not that I’m offended by it.
I meant more of a mix of college radio and top 40.
Z: I hope that’s where things are going.
Everything is colliding, and you guys have a handle on the underground Brooklyn angle of that sound. Did you premiere new material tonight?
Z: We did! We played one new song. The new song is… THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE ARE ANNOUNCING THE NAME OF OUR NEW SONG!!!…. Activate Me. It’s the nineties uptempo song we did. Our album was released last January, but it feels fresh. People are still discovering it.
Varsity did well!
A: Even if we haven’t played a show in a month or a few weeks, it still feels fresh. The songs still feel exciting to play, which is definitely good. It took us a while to put Varsity together because we didn’t have a specific roadmap of we’re a band and this is our sound and so forth. It was more like cool we have these really great songs people are responding to but we don’t really know where they fit and can’t pitch them. They all just sort of fit in this certain supersonic landscape that became Varsity. And that’s what set off everything.
Z: Festivals, good shows, definitely want to be in Europe more this year. We’re releasing a new body of work in the next few months, the follow up to Varsity. We’re not putting a date on it yet, still a lot behind the scenes to work out, but the music is there.
A: We’re playing Ultra Fest in Miami and Governor’s Ball. Tour. More collaborations, more music. We haven’t put out new music in a while, which is something I think we both regret a little bit.
Z: I wouldn’t say regret. I don’t agree with that.
A: Well, I have a desire to put out new music.
Z: Regret is different than desire. Regret means you wish you did something different. Things have been shifting, our team has been shifting, we’re trying to create an all star team… It’s all learning. You can’t be a perfectionist and know everything. Everything has hardships in the music business. Especially the first few years of touring. And this is it. You can have regret, you just have to learn those lessons and apply them. We’re smart, we’re getting it.
Well, it’s better to release something with gravity then a bunch of little tracks and bombard people with material.
Z: Exactly. It’s not the content, it’s how you present the content.