Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?
Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all for your hard work.
Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.
In our first interview with indie rock artist, Eloy AKA Strays of the World, we explored his first album, IN MY HEAD: https://tggeeks.com/blog/2022/02/11/hamish-downies-five-questions-with-eloy-aka-strays-of-the-world/
Now, he’s back with his second album, and as promised, he’s back to be interviewed about the new body of work, and his evolved sound. So, please enjoy, Interview 2: Electric Boogaloo.
TGG: Congratulations on releasing your second album, Chaos All, to streaming. Could you tell us about the album, and what inspired it?
SOTW: The new album went through a lot of forms and song sequences. Lots of alternate takes, different grooves, and still, it ultimately turned out in the perfect form. When I experience an album, I always listen for the through-line, the story that connects the songs, and that’s what I attempt to do with my own music as well.
Chaos All, at its core, is the story of a person who fights hard for what he wants but is too scared to say yes when it’s staring him in the face. I began with the song “Chaos All” as the eventual ending point, and then it was up to me to figure out how to bring the listener there too. It needed to grab them upfront (“Tunnel Vision”), explain the premise of the story (“One More For Obscurity”), take them through the chaotic highs and lows (“Hello”, “Better Off Alone”, “Fear of Flight”, “Flying High”), show the outcome of making bad decisions (“I Am Neon”, “Heaven”, “Wrong Number”), but leave them with a bit of hope (“Chaos All”).
In the end… life was the biggest inspiration for Chaos All. A lot of it is autobiographical, but I also tried to go outside myself to be a better musical storyteller.
TGG: Sophomore albums are notoriously difficult. They say you have a lifetime to make your first album, and only a year to make the second. Why did you choose the even bigger challenge of doing a concept album i.e. The Chaos Experience?
SOTW: It’s an interesting question because In My Head was also a concept album. In my view, an album is like a book. It’s not just a collection of songs, but something that brings you through a journey. That said, the challenge for me on Chaos All was more on how explicit I wanted to make that story. The Chaos Experience was a really fun showing of everything that went into making an album.
As for the timing of what it took to write Chaos All, yeah it was about a year. But in fairness to In My Head, I think I wrote that in less than a year. For this sophomore album, however, I wanted to really take my time and hone in on the direction I wanted to take my music. A few of the songs were ones I had written well before any of the songs on In My Head, while others were ones I wrote just a couple of months before release in a surge of inspiration for what the album SHOULD sound like. This is what happens in the creative process with me a LOT! There were so many songs written, a lot of them fully fleshed out and amazing tracks, that just didn’t make the album due to me wanting to get it just right.
I find the hardest thing with sophomore albums is expectation. Will the album be just like the first or will the artist branch out and go in a completely different direction? I feel like Chaos All is where I am now, but it’s not wholly divorced from In My Head, even though it has its own separate, distinct sound. I hope that I can experiment and do a lot of things within music and that the fans will come along with the ride. Being put into a box is not the look I’m going for, you know?
TGG: I know that you received some criticism from fans of your youtube channel, Prince’s Friend that your first album didn’t sound more like Prince. Whereas this album sees you moving in a much more funky direction. Did you feel pressure to move in this direction, or was it more of a natural evolution?
SOTW: Being someone known for their love of Prince’s music and someone inspired by the man’s legacy creates a certain amount of expectation from people. I made a decision from the beginning through to follow my own instincts and make the music that comes out of my soul. The last thing the world needs is someone trying to sound like or be Prince because we already had Prince and his still music lives on.
Now, with all that I just said as a big, glaring caveat… this album is funkier because I’ve been doing more bass work myself, and a lot of the songs are more upbeat. I also am an avid #studentofprince so it would be hard to divorce his influence entirely, even though I don’t believe Strays of the World sounds much like Prince material. Everyone has different ears though. For me, continuing the message of love and music is the main goal.
TGG: I know that you are a scriptwriter, which comes to the fore with the short stories that accompanied each track. Are there any plans to turn this into a stage or movie musical?
SOTW: I had never even thought of that to be honest, but it could totally work. Stage, maybe not, but it would make for a hella-good movie I think. Chaos All has enough twists and turns that it would definitely translate well. I wonder who would star in it?
TGG: As a Student of Prince – maybe you should star in it yourself! You’ve also done your first duet. How did you find your very talented Duet partner?
SOTW: “Flying High” was a weird case of me just wanting to experiment. I had the whole song pretty much done, and then I decided to throw a wrench in my own game by thinking… “hmm, what if I brought someone else in to help on this one?” Largely just because it felt lacking without the addition of another voice since it was a song about being together with someone.
Then I remembered meeting Layloni earlier because we run in similar circles, and we had already had some interactions with accountability and songwriting workshops, so I knew she’d work great! She has a naturally lower, raspier voice which harmonizes well with my higher falsetto. We went through so many back-and-forth meetings, first with her just being on the chorus, then singing background, then doing runs, until eventually I just decided to split the song in half and make it a full-on duet. It was a huge deal for me, since I had heard writing duets was so hard. But I’m always one to take on a challenge head-on! And Layloni was on board with my insanity, which made us fast friends as well.
TGG: How can we best support you?
SOTW: Support can come in a lot of different forms. Anyone who takes a moment to listen to a song of mine on any platform truly honors and supports Strays of the World, even if they don’t realize it. That said, of course, I have my favorite ways that support us even more! Our website, http://straysoftheworldmusic.com gets you to all the main info! You can buy a copy of Chaos All or In My Head there, as well as some merch (and I have some new designs coming soon). I’m also doing this thing called the Beyond Chaos Pass, which entitles you to get all the alternate takes, remixes, and songs that didn’t make the album, so that’s fun.