By: Shayla Lee
People say that if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere else in the world. I 100% agree with this statement. There is something special about New Yorkers. They are grittier, more humble, harder working, and more genuine than most people. New Yorkers are badass.
Making up the indie-pop duo Satellite Mode, Jess Carvo and Alex Marko definitely fit the hard hitting New Yorker persona. 2017 saw the release of the duo’s album Wild Excuses; a beautiful collection chalked full of 10 dancey, emotional, and fun songs. From the hypnotic ‘Wicked Game’ to the powerful ‘Wild Excuses’, this album experiments with many different sounds and sub-genres. There is definitely a song for everyone.
We had the chance to interview Alex and Jess and we chatted about their album, the meaning behind all of the fruit in their music videos, and what we can expect from them this year.
FEMME RIOT: Can you tell us a bit about yourselves? What led you two to working together?
Jess Carvo of Satellite Mode: Alex is from Bucks County, PA and I’m from Long Island NY. We both went the traditional route of music as kids – getting classical training in piano and voice, musical theatre, etc. Both of us were working full time jobs while also pursuing music when we met each other at a BMI event in NYC. We decided to work together after hearing each other’s music and seeing each other play live. We played completely different music from each other at the time. I was impressed by his presence & his outside of the box musical ideas, and vice versa.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
Singer-Songwriter, psychedelic, electronic, indie-pop music. We’re often told we sound like any of the following: Florence & The Machine + Portishead + Portugal. The Man
Where do you draw inspiration for your music? Do you have any musical influences?
What I enjoy most about being in our band, is that we often draw inspiration from wildly different places. Alex will be inspired by his favorite 1960’s & 1970’s bands to create these funky & psychedelic sounds and grooves. He’s also gotten me into some amazing Nigerian music (you can check out our Spotify playlists for some great jams) I like to come up with angular melodies to play off those beats and sounds, using a kind of classical old-school style of singing. As a creator I’m mostly drawn to folk-infused artists & singer songwriters.
We do have a lot of favorite artists in common. We both LOVE Regina Spektor and RHCP and we both were in jam bands and rock & roll bands during college.
Do you have a favourite lyric that you have written?
“I’m growing tired, of navigating through your brain waves” from Warm Fire Lightening – because we wrote it together and it’s a fun line to sing.
You released your album ‘Wild Excuses’ in December- love it! What was the creation process for this album like?
Thank you. If I could use one word to sum it all up it would be “discovery”. We recorded most of this album in Alex’s room and I don’t think we even had monitors when we made half of these tracks. We learned so much, on so many levels. We’re thankful to have met our first fans through Wild Excuses.
You recently released a music video for ‘Forever’. I read that you worked with the music business students at NYU’s Village Records. What was it like collaborating with them? The video makes me want to go back to New York so bad. What is the best part about living in such an amazing city?
NYC : Diversity and grit. Alex and I talk about it all the time. We love our city and we love our country. We love that we can walk down the street and see all types of people working towards all sorts of dreams while also going through any number of struggles. We’re all living on the same concrete island. Also, we can eat almost anything at any time. That’s huge.
NYU: Alex and I are so used to doing everything on our own. We thoroughly enjoy it but there are a lot of moving pieces to manage when you are trying to share your music with the world. Working with Village Records, even at the student level, gave us a better taste of what a business this band is and how many minds come together to bring a “label project” to life. The students were awesome and a lot of fun. We were honored they asked us to learn alongside with them for a semester.
One of my favourite songs is ‘Fair’. Can you tell us a bit more about this track?
Alex had been working on a track when I walked in after having had a frustrating phone- call, in which I felt like I had been belittled and deceived. Alex turned the mic on and I’m pretty sure the hook came out right away. I think it was a “I’m taking my power back” moment & we ran with it from there.
The artwork for both ‘Wild Excuses’ and ‘Warm Fire Lightening’ feature fruit and your music video for ‘Surface’ shows fruit being destroyed. Can you explain the symbolism behind the fruit?
All artists start out drawing fruit, right? 🙂
What can we expect from you this year? Hopefully we will see you in Vancouver soon!
We’d love to hang & play in Vancouver. In 2018 you can expect new music that we spent the majority of 2017 working on. We plan to be on the road for a bit after releasing the tunes. We might get into some other art forms too. TBD.
What 3 songs are you currently listening to?
We want to thank Jess and Alex for doing this interview. The cover photo was provided by Jess and was shot by Shervin Lainez. You can follow the duo’s Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify. No Wild Excuses guys. Just listen to their album below. 😉