Last month, we were surfing the web and then our jaws dropped simultaneously and stayed in that position for three minutes and thirty-two seconds, the entire length of Stroik's new single "Lonely Feather". With little known about Stroik's identity, we reached out. We couldn't live with ourselves to hide such a track from all of you. Upon further research, we learned that Stroik has released music dating back to 2008. Recently, via Love Our Records, he put out a collection of older songs as an EP titled Career Girls. It shares similar sounds to that of Built To Spill and Avi Buffalo. Bruce Driscoll (Freedom Fry, Blondfire) and Andy Chase (IVY) oversaw the creation of that EP. Stroik is constantly making music, more will be released soon. In the meantime, read our interview below with this semi-anonymous individual and listen to his great music.
What The Sound: What does Stroik mean? Where did you choose that name?
Stroik: It was the only thing people called me at work during my early recording years and it was the first thing that came to mind when I titled my first recording. It was me giving me my own nickname but it's just a Polish surname that I like really and it sounds like onomatopoeia and people tell me not to change it.
WTS: About a month ago, you released “Lonely Feather”, is this a part of an upcoming EP or full-length?
It's for the first LP which will be all guitar based songs I started this year and next and I'm holding off the keyboard stuff for LP 2.
WTS: What’s this track about? Was it written after Career Girls was put out? What prompted you to write it?
Career Girls: 2010 Tapes was recorded in 2009 and 2010 and there's more releases from that period coming by Love Our Records. "Lonely Feather" I recorded this summer and it was the first thing I felt real control over and the first release I mixed and engineered all of. It was the first one I listened back to and thought was actually perfect. It's only taken ten years to get there.
WTS: It has a particular sound, if you could give that track a genre, what would it be?
Obsessive pop or something. You know, I love hearing anything by anyone obsessed in their work. People act like Top 40 isn't interesting but it is. I listen to mixing more than anything. There's a reason Michael Bay has released ten movies and none have lost money. It's not hip to talk about but that sort of control of craft is exciting to me. I always wanted to get to the level where craft was second nature and creation was the star. I love Top 40 music, I love populist media. I wish more cynical people could appreciate craft as much as idea.
WTS: Was it your idea to sing into one ear? Are you a fan of any other song that did something similar?
I had this melody since 2011 on an acoustic demo and had been listening to lots of Motown era stuff and loved how weird it was mixed compared to newer music. Stuff mixed the way you rarely even hear anymore so I went with that idea because the melody was so pretty and I wanted it all to be really traditional in that way. Mixing nowadays is so straightforward especially when bands are just turning in their work to people who do the same kind of thing over and over like A.I. for a paycheck.
WTS: In 2013, you released a few songs. What happened to those?
I worked with a press company that cost a lot more money than I earn a month so I was fortunate to have a great friend pay for it with no expectations on top. It's a good thing because they were less successful than they've ever been and I'm sure felt awful, right. The good that came out of that was Love Our Records hearing me. They're nice to me.
WTS: In February, you released Career Girls, was that a debut EP?
That was the first EP release of mine since Love Our Records was so interested. It was songs I made in 2009 and 2010 with Bruce Driscoll and Andy Chase overseeing it all.
WTS: Looking at the EP, what does this album mean to you? Why did you write it?
Career Girls came to me without much thought. It sounded nice. Doesn't it sound nice to say? Career Girls. It's just different and nice. I'm finding real truths in that title since though. Mike Leigh put the title to good use once too.
WTS: Those older songs like “In The Fresh” have a more electronic and upbeat feeling than Career Girls, what guided you to make that change?
All those were recorded around the same period from songs created around 2008. Genre has never been an interest of mine until recent.
WTS: I like the video for “American Girl” was that one of your first projects?
That was the first and maybe last music video somebody else recorded of me. Josh Stoddard who made the doc of Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters in black and white had seen my In The Fresh video and liked my music. I really liked that doc and was fortunate to work with him because of a mutual friend. He recorded a short doc of me also in black in white which I loved but hope nobody ever sees.
WTS: Based off of either your face paint or the actor’s, are Empire of the Sun, MGMT, or Passion Pit influences?
That's funny. My great friend Andy was obsessed with Empire of the Sun and wanted me to go that route and I felt it was a bit insincere of me. One of their songs has a fantastic melody though. MGMT and Passion Pit write really good lyrics. They are bands I wouldn't normally care about if their lyrics weren't so thoughtful. Their singers are very handsome too.
WTS: Parts of Career Girls, remind me of Avi Buffalo, Built To Spill, and Cloud Cult. Have you been compared to any of these acts in the past?
No but the songs seem very open to that sort of thing. I didn't have as much control over the sound of that period of songs but I'm more happy with them than I was. Things would spill out and I'd record. Built to Spill was big for me in my teen years though for sure, songs like "Strange" and "The Weather" were listened to hundreds of times while I'd write stories and lyrics.
WTS: Who and what inspires you the most to make music?
In my teens me and friends would go to local punk shows and the best band was always Timothy's Weekend which would become Annuals. Their singer Adam Baker was so naturally musical and charismatic and I loved him and we had mutual friends so that was a beacon for me. Then their debut LP came out on Ace Fu and it was so unique and striking in its mixing and the world it created, I always looked to that. I work on how I respond to things now though and challenge my beliefs and thoughts. There's a switch in your head that you can control to appreciate something. I'm too ambitious for my own good. I do most thinking about songs away from the actual music making but when I'm making it it's like breathing, things come without much thinking. Then I sort of caress myself into accepting what's recorded and making the most of it and mix it to my own idea of perfection unless my thinking gets over it and I have to re-record.
WTS: What has been the biggest challenge for you in making music? Ever lose interest?
I've never lost interest in music for a second and I hope nobody who makes it as a career has either. I want to hear people who are obsessed in their work to a fault. That's what's interesting to me. It took me a long long time to get where I wanted writing music. I remember being 18 after four years of playing guitar and keyboard and being able to finally write complete songs for people to hear and it was so frustrating because they weren't what I wanted, they were what I could do. It hasn't been until the past few years where I feel real control over what I make.
WTS: What are your plans for the near future? More music in the works? If so, how will it be different?
Music for film, music for elevators, music for anything and everything. Melodies come to me in my sleep and in humdrum daily activities normally now so it's sort of baffling. I sit down and record something out of boredom feeling zero inspiration and people tell me it's my best song ever so I just need more people to trust to tell me what to release.
WTS: What's your favorite film music? Do music and film relate?
I was seven years old in Las Vegas and there was this brilliant kid Kyle, god bless him, he knew John Williams and he loved Sam Neil and The Hunt for Red October. That was the great thing about that place, you'd meet people you'd never meet where I lived in North Carolina. People with parents who had to work two jobs or do crimes to get by. John Williams was my first love of music and soundtracks were my gateway to LP's which is in line with my disinterest in genre. But you've never seen a film where music isn't the basis for the most emotional moments. It's hard to even think of a real emotional moment in film without music. Music is just emotion.
WTS: Outside of your music, is there anything you would like the readers to know?
Emily Browning is so pretty. Her and Cillian Murphy and their cheekbones should star in a romcom together with Martin Brest dusting himself off to come back to helm again. The end.