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Interview: Into the Sonic Stratosphere with I Am a Rocketship

26 November 2023

Atlanta indie pop duo I Am a Rocketship has released their new La Cruella album, their sixth major release, comprised of ten tracks that explore uncertainty, fear, and dreams. I Am a Rocketship is made up of American artist Eric Weissinger and Swedish artist L E Kippner.

You have said that the new album, La Cruella, both keeps the band’s signature sound and explores new sonic pastures. What do you think are the familiar musical elements found in your music, and what is new to the sound?

Eric: I think what’s familiar is the electronic beats, using layered guitars, and everything is centered on the melody. But what’s new is that we’ve left more space than usual, sonically. Atmospheric is probably too strong a word, but we tried to keep the instrumentation lean and leave room for each sound to kind of make itself heard.

“These may be the last songs we make that could be identified as “rock.” Does such a statement imply that you are a band in transition, or have you always made sure that there is a gradual evolution to your musical output?

Eric: More the former. The songs here that have rock drumming and structure were ones we’d been tinkering with for a while, but most of the album was written recently, and whether it’s the times we were in or our personal feelings, we both were happier when we were focused on lyrics and melodies and then finding sounds that worked for those lyrics. Each album does seem to be more in this direction, so perhaps we’re slowly evolving.

L.E.: We keep jokingly suggesting to each other that we should try something completely different, you know, go wild and record a polka album. But I think we are more about gradual changes. I think we are evolving, or at least we get happier with the result with each album. Maybe we are constantly moving towards our perfect sound.

You’ve also spoken about the way that you tell your stories is changing, perhaps becoming more vague and opaque. Is this to make the listener reach further into the song and its message, meet you halfway? Do you worry that the change of style in your music will leave a few existing fans behind, and is that just the price you pay for staying creative and exciting and always moving forward?

L.E.: It’s more about us meeting the listener halfway, or at least that was our intention. We wanted to invite the listener in so that they could find something in the songs that was their story and not just ours.

Eric: I like visual art that lets me imagine its intent and figure out for myself how I feel, and it’s the same with music. I know we could draw a crowd at festivals faster when we mostly did more danceable music, but if you can’t write and play what you really feel, you might as well start a cover band and get paid better.

Tens of thousands of songs are released every day, but, from year to year, you have cut through the riff-raff to gain press and radio attention, drawing from all over the world. How have you managed to stay relevant in this changing music landscape, and are you working with a team (i.e., manager, booker, radio plugger, publicist, publisher) to help you with these challenges?

Eric: We’ve consistently worked with Shauna from Shameless Promotion PR. First, she knows what she’s doing professionally, but second, when you have a long relationship, you both know your sound, personality, and message, and the media, readers, and listeners know what to expect, too.

L.E.: I think it also helps that our musical tastes only overlap about half the way. We listen to a lot of different music, and our individual tastes are always evolving. We will share interesting new discoveries with each other, and that means we don’t let the other person stop and settle down where the music is safe and familiar.

“Gravity” is a spacious and buoyant pop number. Was this a conscious decision, or does the music tell you where it needs to go rather than following your direction?

Eric: That song felt like it took as long to write as it does to play. The hook in the chorus came along out of nowhere, and it felt best with a simple groove behind it. I had no idea what it should be about, but L E wrote the lyrics, if I recall, on the spot during rehearsal. If there are muses out there, they just dropped it in our laps.

L.E.: This one definitely told me where it wanted to go lyrically. Sometimes, you just have to write things down or record things as they come to you so the muse doesn’t get upset about waiting.

So, where next for I Am a Rocketship, and outside the band, what does the future hold for you as individuals, too?

Eric: I have a hundred or so song ideas, either as demos or as voice memos on my phone at any given time, and I regularly review them to listen for which ones seem to have something in common to use as an album. The next bunch of songs are always waiting. As individuals? I’m also tinkering with an international collaboration, and there could be an album coming soon. I am trying to savor life more, worry less, and keep my imagination agile.

L.E.: Polka album!

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