Sound Strider

In this latest Indie Insights we chat with Sound Strider, who has been making music for over a decade, with tons of collaborations, experimentation, and even hosting a full event over the decade! Check out his advice for creating a lasting legacy and why collaboration is the most important thing he’s done (and how you can too!)

I’m super excited to be chatting with you today! This is a series where we dive into the music while highlighting the business side of the industry. You’ve had some really impressive accolades in the decade or so you’ve been in the industry so I can’t wait to dive in! For starters, tell us a little bit about your new single, “Psychedelic Ritual.”

This is the first track I’ve released in almost 5 years so there’s definitely been some changes to my production process. As with most of my past material, I’m not quite sure where to place it genre-wise, but it’s definitely a dancefloor track with lots of analog synths and my signature polyrhythmic power moves. 

Let’s talk about the Music Magic Medicine event you hosted. You don’t see a lot of musicians hosting events like that!

I’ve been interested in magic and occultism for a long time, which, at least in the modern musical landscape, is something you normally only come across in the heavy metal subcultures. One exceptional anomaly is of course the KLF, who are a huge inspiration. That said, I think the culture is changing and we’re seeing a lot of nonmaterialistic, animist philosophies come out in the open. There are a lot of people who’ve experienced powerful synchronicities and abnormal experiences on electronic music dancefloors, so I wanted this event to serve as a sort of clarion call for people to open up about their experiences and get a dialog going about this crucial aspect of what music is/can be.

From a marketing perspective, how has that helped you grow and gain traction and how can indie artists explore doing the same thing, even on a smaller scale?

To be perfectly honest I haven’t seen a whole lot of traction for Sound Strider come out of hosting this particular event. That said, dipping your toes into event promotion is a time honored way of getting a start, especially in the electronic music world. If you’re struggling to get other promoters to book you, create an event and book yourself!

“Psychedelic Ritual” takes unexpected turns throughout the song. How can indie artists maintain a balance between experimentation and consistency to keep their audience engaged?

I’m probably a terrible person to ask this question as my balance is heavily skewed towards experimentation and I’m not sure I’ve done a great job over the years of being consistent. The advice I would give however is to stay true to yourself and keep making the music that you want to make. Trying to chase genres or fads might get you some short term wins but it never pays off in the long run.

Collaboration seems to play a significant role in your work, evident in the use of vocal samples. How can collaborations benefit indie artists in expanding their reach and creativity?

I would say collaboration is probably the single most important thing you can do as an independent artist, especially if you are working alone. Not only do you learn so much faster when you participate in a shared workflow but the way it opens you up to new audiences and inspiration is absolutely fundamental.

How have you seen the industry evolve over the last decade since you started with your release ‘Intrepid Travels’ in 2013.

Certainly a lot of things have changed in the last 10 years. We’ve watched Spotify become the primary source for the average listener. CDs have confirmed their obsolescence while vinyl has had a bit of a comeback. I think labels have become less important and with the democratization of access through services like distrokid and tunecore we’ve seen a bunch of artists go straight from the bedroom to the mainstage. That said, it’s also become a lot harder for independent artists who now have to become proficient in doing all the things that labels used to take care of. You have to learn PR, branding and all the other painful stuff instead of just focusing on the creative process. 

Can you share any specific challenges you faced during the production of “Psychedelic Ritual” and how you overcame them?

I used a lot of analog synthesizers for my basslines which were played live and this was causing some serious mix issues in trying to get things to sit evenly. In the end layering and compression saved the day.

What piece of advice really helped you that you’d like to pass along?

That consistency is the key to creative success. There’s a story about a pottery class that was divided in 2 for a one week assignment. Half the class were to be judged on the quantity of the work they produced and the other half on quality. In the end the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Finally, how can indie artists maintain a balance between artistic fulfillment and achieving success in the competitive music industry?

I won’t lie, it’s not easy and is something I struggle with constantly. I think at the end of the day if you are going to go down this road you have to be drawn by the creative process itself. Keep coming back to that and try not to worry too much about the other stuff. Success can be fleeting and it can be random, if you spend all your time focusing on marketing and networking you’re probably not going to enjoy the process all that much. I’ve seen plenty of people over the years achieve ‘success’ only to burn out once they realize the kind of lifestyle that went along with it, spending your days in airplanes and faceless hotels constantly hounded by people trying to get something out of you. What is it that draws you to making music in the first place? Keep coming back to that and you can’t go wrong.

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

I’ll be hosting the 2nd edition of Music Magic Medicine at my property/studio in France next May. It’s going to be a deep exploration over a weekend with some incredible artists and musicians. Stay tuned here I’ve also got a bunch of releases and collabs coming up, or @soundstrider on the socials to stay in touch.

Thanks for chatting with me!