It is only human to want to compartmentalize things. Therefore you get labels and genres to help understand things. But I can’t say that the subgenre Djent says anything to me. I’m not even sure if THE SURREALIST can be labeled . Anders Ekdahl ©2016
Every band has to introduce their music to new people. What is it that you want people to get from listening to you guys?
-When somebody listens to our music, I want there to be a shift in their perspective of what the guitar is supposed to sound like or how the drums are meant to act in relation to the other instruments. There’s a lot of dynamic flow between the instruments, meaning that a lot of the guitar riffs you hear on the record get manipulated by the behavior of the drums, and vice versa. If you played the guitars and drums parts from our EP separately from each other, you would’ve almost thought they were from different record. The interdependency and synergy of all the parts create this really coherent landscape of music that should hopefully please the listener.
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-It’s always pretty hard to come up with the perfect name for your band, your business or your newly born child. So as we were deciding upon a band name, I basically just stole the name from my high school group, which was a completely different band and I though it would be the perfect name to represent our music. The name itself stems from the artistic concept and movement of surrealism, which started in the early 20th century. Surrealism alludes to the idea of juxtaposing two or more contrasting elements together, such as painting a horse with wings flying through an ocean of sky. It’s the combination of polarizing elements, done in a very nonsensical yet rational way in order to evoke a certain feeling or meaning. So naturally we thought The Surrealist would be the perfect name for our band.
Everybody is influenced by certain things. What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of music you play? What inspires you today?
-Musically, a lot of what I write is influenced by very progressive bands such as Meshuggah, Tabla Beat Science, Animals As Leaders, Tigran Hamasyan and Tesseract. In terms of guitarists, I love Allan Holdsworth and Guthrie Govan. Recently I’ve delved into a lot of film and video game soundtracks such as Sim City 4, Halo, Angelo Milli, Howard Shore and Hans Zimmer.
Non-musically, I get inspired by following thought-leaders such as Elon Musk and Gary Vaynerchuk, who always look for ways to push the envelope for human exploration and connection.
When you formed did you do so with the intent of knowing what to play or did you do so from the point of having a band name and then picking a sound? How did you settle on the name/sound combo?
-We’ve always been attracted to sounds that were different from what we usually hear. If you’ve ever just listened to one or two seconds of Allan Holdsworth playing, you know its him, and you can rarely say that about many artists. That’s always been our vision. We want listeners immediately be able to identify us when they put on one of our tracks. So our mindset has always been to explore the surreal and the abstract, so naturally everything just clicked when forming the band and it’s name.
I believe that digital is killing the album format. People’s changing habit of how they listen to music will result in there being no albums. Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?
-That’s just the nature of the free market. If there’s less consumer demand for full-length albums, then artists should adjust accordingly. The reason for this fall in demand is due to the trend of instant gratification and the shortening of people’s attention span. With all the access to a plethora of new content everyday, people are bombarded with so many things, and its hard to catch consumers’s attention for a long period of time. This is why single tracks are great, because it allows the listener to understand what the band is all about without having to invest too much time and money on an entire album. I also feel that single tracks carry more significance than individual tracks in an album.
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-Aesthetic and design crucial to a band’s success and connection to their audience. Humans are generally very visual creatures. Our most precious faculty is the ability to entertain color and form. People also tend to associate the music they listen to with strong visual imagery, so it’s important for a band to properly invest in the perfect aesthetic to match their music. It’s also important to evoke a sense of storytelling, or progression, behind their music, no matter how abstract the music may be. Listeners will always subconsciously tie the music into a story or some meaning, and the band’s aesthetic aids in that process and helps listeners connect more with the music.
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-Social media changed the promotion game for every industry, ever company, and every band. Social media has also given any talented kid in their bedroom the potential to reach millions of people, so in that sense its very liberating. On the flip side, older bands that have been around the block for a while have reported to not be as successful in promoting their material simply because the old school method doesn’t work as effectively anymore.
Advertising has evolved from simply pitching out sales prices with an image of the product into a more dynamic storytelling fashion, with more emphasis on trying to connect with prospective buyers’ emotions. It’s a pretty rad paradigm shift.
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
-Definitely. I feel that music is a very spiritual practice that can connect you with something greater than yourself, which is always liberating and gives you a feeling of lightness. Especially when you’re surrounded by so many other talented musicians within your scene, you definitely feel this powerful energy in the air. There are just so many positive vibes.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-We plan to start touring by early 2017. We’ve been working on launching our debut EP. Once it’s out, we plan on booking a stream of shows. Touring and playing live is definitely the most rewarding thing a band can do, not just for themselves but for the fans as well. The experience of live music is simply unrivaled.
What will the future bring?
-Virtual Reality. Haha.