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INTERVIEW: Sabbatical Year

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Pretty good, muchacho, thanks for asking. Well, good and cold. I’m writing back to you from hibernation mode inside on a computer with snow falling and 30 mph winds here in Atlanta.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Dd”?

I’d love to. We are really excited about it and all the tracks off our new EP SYre and what they represent. The tunes are all remixes of songs from our 2014 self-titled debut, unofficially titled SY1 (Spotify link included). We decided that we like so many different styles of music that we want to move around in genres a bit more. “Dd,” along with all four tracks on the EP, was a way to do that – to start that journey by getting way more electronic than we’d ever been before. It’s been a really fun experience.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

The original song, “Deepdene,” is a park here in Atlanta. I’m from New York originally and like so many New Yorkers am pretty obsessed with Central Park. When I moved to Atlanta I found out that Central Park’s architect Frederick Law Olmstead actually designed a slew of linked-up parks in Atlanta, one being Deepdene Park. It just so happened I lived right next to it and would go on walks in it almost daily. It’s different from Central Park in as much as it’s not really touristy or for open play and lounging like most parks. It’s sort of just a very forested area with some paths right smack in the middle of a main road in Atlanta. It’s like another dimension that brings you out of the hustle and bustle of the city and right into a very spiritual and still natural place. I love the idea of that. It is really inspiring. It’s a place where you can just sort of be at one with the universe a bit, if that sounds a bit corny. It inspired the whole song and especially the chorus: “Come along, ride along now/ You’re gunna know when, you’re gunna know why/ Ride along and you bring it on down/ When you want to be seen, gotta come to Deepdene and save me.” Deepdene is a place where you can really be “seen” within your mind’s eye and its place in everything. And no, I wasn’t high while writing that answer, lol.

Can you tell us more about the upcoming video?

The video is very cool. Once again, the process of making these songs and them becoming something further out than we had been before was all about inspiration and creativity just sort of uninhibited. The same goes for the visual part of it. We worked with an Atlanta/San Francisco-based filmmaker Anthony Bonaparte that also did our two videos off our last record, SY2 (album link there and videos here: “Mulberry Grove” & “Lookout Mountain”). And we sort of had the idea that we didn’t want to be in the video, and also we sort of wanted a different kind of artist to convey the meaning of the song. The meaning is right there when you hear “Dd”, directly from us. But we wanted to add another piece of artistry to it. So we used New York/Atlanta-based professional dancer Maggie Carter. We approached her about it, she basically listened to the song for a couple days and then had this ridiculously beautiful and amazing dance choreographed to the whole song in like two more. It was impressive. And from there I sort of gave some input and kind of let go of the wheel as Anthony and Maggie brought this thing to life. It was an absolute pleasure working together.

The single comes off your new album Syre – what’s the story behind the title?

The SYre title was easy, and a bit tongue-in-cheek really. We refer to our debut as SY1, our second album was SY2 and since this wasn’t quite our third proper album, which will of course be SY3, it was however close enough. And it rhymed. And it explained what it was. So, SYre it is.

How was the recording and writing process?

Like I said before, these are remixed versions of older tunes, so the process was pretty simple. Mess around in the studio with fun toys. And the other original co-founder of the band, and piano player, Drew Norris is a magician with that stuff. So he led the way in the electronic trenches and the rest of us – myself, Devon Norris (another studio genius, our drummer and Drew’s younger brother) and Tom Smith our bassist sort of went along for the ride a bit. The original sessions that spawned these tunes though came from a lot of hours in Drew’s living room, my music room and from our yearly sojourn to a cabin in the woods to finish our records. I’d also not be giving the proper credit if I didn’t include our original bassist Justin Sperrazza and drummer Todd Hold, who helped write the original tunes and were great parts of the Sabbatical Year machine early on.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I outlined a lot of this above, so I don’t want to repeat myself, but a lot of the lyrics to Dd – and to many of our songs – will sort of just come to me while I’m out and about. And I just stop myself and let the words flow out. It reminds me, and I don’t know if it’s like this for everyone, but I read a recollection from John Lennon about writing the lyrics to The Beatles’ “Across the Universe.” He sort of said about writing that song, and what he says is basically right there at the start of the song lyrics, that he sort of was hit with the muse or whatever to write, he sort of sat back, pulled out a pen and let the words just come. Like he wrote, “Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup…”

Any plans to hit the road?

We are always going back and forth about how to perform live. We played a lot supporting SY2, and had a ton of fun, but the live music landscape is just different now. People don’t go out to see it as much, and it’s sad. So, we are focused less on getting in a van and touring from town to town for a hundred bucks in seedy bars run by shyster booking agents and instead are thinking outside the box. Will that be playing festivals, showcases like CMJ or ACL or just acoustic jaunts here and there, fans living rooms. We’ll see what the future holds. But it’s exciting. We actually have a call out there for a tour called “Sing Out for Sabbatical Year” on our website where you can sort of vote for us to play your town. The response has been great, so who know where that’ll take us. Check it out: http://www.sabbaticalyear.rocks/#!shows/ck0q

What else is happening next in Sabbatical Year’s world?

Well, just getting this whole album, which is totally free by the way, out there to the world. We hope people love it, it gets them interested in our old stuff which has a lot to get into, too, and then see where the creative inspiration takes us. More electronic stuff? Maybe. Some acoustic, broken down, simple stuff. Maybe to balance the other stuff out. But definitely more music and definitely our best yet.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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