[Photo by: Emily Soto]
With social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at everyone’s disposal, and music streaming platforms such as Spotify and Bandcamp available, the classic record label model seems to be losing its foothold. More artists are coming up independently (Chance the Rapper launched his career via SoundCloud) and more artists, like Being As An Ocean, are deciding to leave their labels behind. So why make the switch? Guitarist Tyler Ross explains BAAO’s reasons for separating from Equal Vision Records as they independently release “Thorns,” the first single off of the band’s upcoming record, Waiting For Morning To Come, out Sept. 8.
How long have you been toying with the idea of going independent? How do you think your music has changed as a result?
I settled on it at the beginning of this year when I had this whole big mindset shift in terms of my music and where I wanted to take it. My opinions shifted as a whole recently [and] simultaneously about my place in the industry and how I want to make things. I think forgetting about labels made me feel so free and liberated for the first time in a long time. Like, let’s shake things up. Let’s try stuff. Who’s gonna stop us?
“I think forgetting about labels made me feel so free and liberated for the first time in a long time.”
What do you think that means for your future sound? What would you like to experiment with?
Me, Joel [Quartuccio, vocals], Ralph [Sica, bass], and Mike [McGough, guitar] have always been willing to go deeper and deeper into our influences and keep creating stranger and stranger chimeras with our music. I think we’ve made some decently weird stuff so far, but I really feel it pales in comparison to what we have wanted to do, can do or are going to do in the future.
What does your new single “Thorns” mean to you?
I just read the first comment that someone ever posted about “Thorns” (it’s midnight here in Sicily). It said, “Masterpiece.” I think that’s what “Thorns” means to me. It means trying something progressive, something new, something exciting and big and shaking things up.
[It’s] something that makes you turn to your friend and go, “Who is this?!” That’s all I’ve ever really wanted.
What does this new record add to your discography? What is different about it?
It’s a totally different approach to production. It’s sampling, it’s reworking, it’s flipping things on their head. It's Ableton [music production], it's forward, it's backward, it's pitched up, down, stretched [and] sampled again. It’s pulling influences from places that have never come into this scene, from HEALTH, Justice, the Weeknd, Terror Jr, This Will Destroy You, anime like AKIRA, Bon Iver, the Legion of Doom, Twenty One Pilots, Taxi Driver (the movie). And those are just the easy ones to find. It’s a deeper approach to what we do; [we’re] not holding back anymore.
By going independent, do you feel as if you’ve disappointed anyone?
I do. I do think we’ve let someone down. But I think we cut the cord mentally and legally there. It’s like drawing a line in the sand and saying, “We’re doing what we want now.” You know? Before it’s like, you don’t want to let down your manager or your label or your publicist because they’re all “your friend” who’s looking out for “your best interest.” And I know they are, to an extent, but that extent is “your best interest” in terms of sales, in terms of [money], which is the only mutual interest you share together. Your label doesn’t have a reason to care about your artistic fulfillment or your weirdness or your new ideas beyond what supplements the bottom line: “If your quirks are selling, then let’s showcase them. If not, why would we bother?”
“It’s like drawing a line in the sand and saying, ‘We’re doing what we want now.’”
How do you think the industry has changed in regards to the traditional “get a record deal” mentality? What do you think is the best way to be an artist today?
It seems like the music industry has changed a lot over the past few decades. I think we were kind of born into the tail-end of it here. I’m only 26, so I bought CDs when I was a kid, but they were already almost irrelevant by the time I started playing in a band. Then, obviously, we’ve moved on a bit more since then.
My advice is just don’t let anyone tell you how to be an artist. Don’t let anyone tell you you have to do something just because “that’s how it’s always done.” Don’t be afraid to try things. This is 2017 — there really aren’t any rules. You’re really not going to make any great art and change the world by just listening to everything people tell you to do, are you?
What do you think your fans will get out of this switch to independence?
They’ll get faster and more efficient access to our music; an uncolored, unfiltered, uninfluenced version of our art from start to finish.
Being As An Ocean's U.S. tour doesn't start until 2018, but in the meantime, they're hitting the road with Stick To Your Guns:
11/16 – Germany Hamburg Gruenspann
11/17 – Germany Nürnberg Löwensaal
11/18 – Austria Graz PPC
11/19 – Czech Republic Prague Meet Factory
11/20 – Hungary Budapest Dürer Kert
11/21 – Poland Warsaw Progresja
11/22 – Germany Rostock Alte Zuckerfabrik
11/23 – Germany Berlin Festsaal Kreuzberg
11/24 – Germany Münster Skaters Palace
11/25 – Germany Hannover Faust
11/26 – Belgium Bruxelles AB
11/27 – UK Nottingham Rescue Rooms
11/28 – UK Glasgow The Garage
11/29 – UK Manchester Club Academy
11/30 – UK London O2 Islington Academy
12/01 – UK Birmingham O2 Institute2
12/02 – Netherlands Amsterdam Melkweg
12/03 – Germany Wiesbaden Schlachthof
12/04 – France Paris Backstage By The Mill
12/05 – Germany Stuttgart Im Wizemann
12/06 – Switzerland Aarau Kiff
12/07 – Germany München Backstage
12/08 – Germany Leipzig Felsenkeller
|12/09 – Austria Wien Flex
12/10 – Germany Köln Essigfabrik