Examiner’s Amber Claire recently caught up with Zach and Aaron from modern electro band ‘Side Car’ where we spoke about their new single ‘Kelly’, which is creating quite a buzz on the music scene with it’s catchy hooks and blend of old school sounds. We also reflected on their musical influences growing up, how they first met and formed the group and also the concept behind the name ‘Side Car’. Here is what these two talented guys had to say:
Amber Claire: Side Car started back in 2012. How did you guys meet and was it instant chemistry when it came to your creative interests?
Side Car: You know how they say there are six degrees of separation between any 2 people on the planet? Well, we got connected through 5 degrees of separation, by the slimmest of chances with all the right people coming together in a 2 hour window. An old friend of Aaron’s that he hadn’t seen in over 10 years was passing through New York and stopped by his apartment for a few hours with his girlfriend. Aaron’s friend and girlfriend were planning on meeting up with the girlfriend’s sister and boyfriend for dinner and asked them to stop by Aaron’s place on the way down. Aaron was playing some dance tracks he’d been producing when they arrived, and the girlfriend’s sister’s boyfriend commented that he had a good friend who was a super talented musician and was looking to connect with an electro producer. Turns out that good friend was Zach. We got in touch, met up, drank some Belgian ale together, realized we liked a lot of the same obscure funk bands from the late 70s and early 80s, and decided to try making some music together.
SC Zach: As far as us clicking at first, actually, no, it was more like an arranged marriage as opposed to love at first sight. It probably took us a year before we figured out what our sound really was.
SC Aaron: I think we needed to spend that time getting to know each other before things really started clicking. We had a lot of 12 and 14 hour days. We threw a lot of spaghetti at the wall the first year to see what would stick before finding our groove -but after awhile, we could tell right away when we were working on a jam if it had that ‘Side Car sound’.
SC Zach: We did know immediately that we each had qualities that complemented each other, but it took a while before that turned into what we have today.
AC: How did you come up with the name Side Car?
SC: It was the summertime when we first started producing together and we had a routine of finishing each recording session by having a Side Car (a classic cocktail originally popular in the 1920’s, made from cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice -delicious!) and listening to music. When we started trying to come up with a name for the act, Zach said, “Why don’t we just call ourselves Side Car?” It’s a good name and has some personal meaning to the early days when we were still finding our sound.
AC: Who were some of your influences growing up from back in the day to now?
SC: Interestingly, we were both strongly influenced by our father’s careers in jazz music early in our lives.
Zach: My father Doug Lucas was a musical progressive of the jazz-funk psych era of the 60s and 70s. He was a composer and founding member of the JJ Band, S.S.O. Orchestra and Plus.
Aaron: My father was a saxophonist and mainstay of the free jazz scene in New York during the late 1960s -he played with luminaries such as Ornette Coleman. We both grew up in musical households listening to some of the great jazz performer/composers like Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Miles Davis, and Duke Ellington from the time we were toddlers.
Zach: Growing up listening to a lot of Jazz, we are used to hearing music with no words! Also, we both liked when popular hip-hop artists would release instrumentals, which is why we’ll be releasing instrumental versions of all of our vocal tracks.
Aaron: I was probably about 7 years old the first time I heard Rick James track ‘Super Freak’ and I was hooked on funk from that moment on. I’m so grateful I learned to dance to Rick James and the Gap Band – it’s probably helped keep me from looking like a complete dork when dancing -though the jury’s still out on that!
Zach: We’re influenced by a lot of great bands and acts. We’re not so particular about style or genre as long as it’s great music and/or songwriting: Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Wham
Aaron: The Doobie Brothers, Dazz Band, Hall & Oates, 70s Motown Sound
Zach: Kool & the Gang, 90s West Coast Rap
How would you describe your music style?
SC Aaron: The Side Car sound is a blend of funk, old school R&B and modern electro. We find a lot of our inspiration in different genres throughout the decades and try to find ways of making different styles work together. We might have a classic 70s funk clavinet rhythm section with early 90s euro dance synths and a disco beat and then mix it all up in a bucket.
SC Zach: The music is definitely funk/dance oriented, with a clean production sound so that you can hear all of the intricate parts. Ideally, you just want to dance to it, but if you have keen ears, you will pick up on much more than just a good beat, or a catchy hook.
AC: How do you guys come up with the concepts for your music?
SC: We try to not put any restraints on ourselves. Often times, we’ll come up with a totally ridiculous concept and see if we can make it fun or interesting, like we had a song with the working title ‘Sticky Situation’. We didn’t have any lyrics yet, but had the structure and instrumental parts down, so we both just started throwing out ideas. We were like, “What’s a sticky situation?’
SC Zach: Liking someone you can’t be with?
SC Aaron: Yeah, that’s good.
SC Zach: Okay, how about 2 single people meet and have a one night stand, then meet again at a party 6 months later and are both with dates?
SC Aaron: That’s awkward, right!? Can we come up with some lyrics to tell that story? We’re not trying to be profound or too clever. We’re just happy if people want to shake their booties to our music!
SC Zach: Most of our lyrics are based around fantasy or ridiculous scenarios. ‘Kelly’ was written on a chair lift while skiing. It was intended to hit a nerve on a large scale. Everyone who grew up in North America (or many other countries) know like 20 Kelly’s and most everyone had a good friend in high school that was the opposite sex, that was just a good hang and fun to be around and there was no drama. That’s what ‘Kelly’ is about, a bit of nostalgia mixed with some universal truth. Something that everyone can relate to either knowingly, or subliminally.
AC: Tell us about the gear you work with?
SC: We have some fun toys in the studio:
Vintage Korg MS20 analogue monosynth -This has a signature boner bass sound, it’s almost comical in the high end, but has some seriously bad ass low end.
Access Virus Synth -Great for recreating those deep Drum & Bass/Jungle baselines and deep Mini Moog sound. You can also get some killer euro lead sounds out of it.
Roland Phantom -This was the ultimate workstation synth in the 90s. It’s got some sweet pads, euro leads, deep bass, and trippy (sometimes corny) effects.
Nord Electro 3 -Awesome organs, Rhodes, whurlies and clavinet sounds
SC Aaron: Zach is an insanely accomplished saxophonist. We’ve used 5 different types of saxophones on tracks, flutes.
SC Zach: Don’t forget the conch shell!
AC: What about the different stuff you use to get different sound effects in your music?
SC: We can find inspiration in just about anything and we like to sample a lot of unusual sources for percussive sounds. For example, clicking a ring on a beer bottle for a triangle sound or creating a wood block effect by recording a friend who makes an amazing ‘pop’ sound when he clicks his tongue. Snapping a belt to create a finger snap sample
SC Aaron: I think we used that on 5 different tracks, it sounds so good!. A bunch of friends are over and we throw them in the studio to get a big clap sound, sometimes it’s just a fun way to involve other people in making the music.
SC Zach: We never use anyone else’s samples, we know we can always make our own.
AC: Tell us about ‘Funk the News’:
SC Zach: ‘Funk the News’ was created by my brother David Klawans who produced Nacho Libre (Jack Black) and Argo (Ben Affleck). His idea was to combine these crazy news stories (true stories) and set them to music. Lately, many of the stories have been topical. I’m given the lyrics and expected to produce an amusing yet accurate song and then there is video footage to back up the music. We have close to 20 videos on our youtube channel right now and have been getting great responses.
AC: What are your thoughts on today’s music industry, what do you guys hope to bring to the table as artists and how would you like to see it change for the better?
SC: A lot of music right now is pretty basic from a musicality and arrangement perspective. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we hope we can get people excited to listen to more complex arrangements where the parts were actually played and not just a few notes that were programmed in a computer. Most of all, we just want them to dance and enjoy what they’re hearing.
SC Zach: We’ve been working on music for 4 years, in 3 different states. We’re excited to finally be getting it out there for people to hear.
AC: Thanks so much for your time guys!
SC: Thank you.
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