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Dissonance Within A Pop Context: Sri

The New LoFi was fortunate enough to know the right people, shake the right handshakes, and dance the correct dance in order to interview the new three piece coming out of Brooklyn. They call themselves Sri (yes, like Sri Lanka), and from what we can tell, they are going to be something you will hear a lot of in the coming months. They are currently recording their sophomore EP with Alex Lipsen over at Headgear Studio in Williamsburg (yeah yeah yeah’s, TV on the Radio). We chatted with Lea Thomas, the surreal vocals behind Sri.

The New LoFi: It seems that you guys are pretty elusive. While doing research for this interview, we couldn’t find much about the band, the band members, your backgrounds, your influences, etc. Other than www.ssrrii.com we couldn’t even find you on myspace. Is that on purpose? Is there some grand plan to remain a mysterious or are you planning to unveil yourselves to the world in one fell swoop?

Lea Thomas: We aren’t trying to be coy, but a little mystery doesn’t hurt, right? In terms of the world wide web, we’re in the process of setting up a myspace, facebook, etc., but we much prefer people to visit our site. I designed it myself, so everything from the font to the artwork parallels our music and aesthetic, without the clutter of a social media layout. There’s also a high resolution audio player and links for free downloads.

TNLF: Your sound is very difficult to describe and/or pinpoint. I could even describe it as mysterious which could explain your elusive online presence. How would you describe your music? What are your influences?

LT: Nature, specifically water, plays a big part in the way I sing and play, and what I write about. As a band, we enjoy working with organic sounds and finding inorganic ways we can emulate them, a la drums, electric guitar, layers and layers of vocals… We’re also big fans of dissonance within a pop context.

TNLF: Your music seems to have an ethereal/spiritual nature to it. SRI is frequently used as an epithet of Hindu gods. Who came up with the band name and what meaning does it have to you?

LT: ‘Sri’ does have its literal, spiritual connotations but beyond that, it has a certain ambiguity that we are really drawn to. Its three-letter simplicity leaves a lot of room for interpretation and since band names become personified by the music, we just co-opted it.

TNLF: Your EP Bone Bazaar, which is available on iTunes and for free on your site, is a beautifully executed effort. It’s really one of the best EPs I’ve heard in a long time. Who writes your songs? How do you approach writing? Was Bone Bazaar the first time you were in the studio together as a band?

LT: Thanks guys! Bone Bazaar was an eclectic project. John and I started working on it soon after we met at audio school in late 2008. It was the beginning of Sri and the first thing we’d ever worked on together so we took our time and really used the songs as open experiments in home recording.
I tend to be the principle songwriter, but being in a band is really a collaborative effort. Both John and Keith (who joined post-Bone Bazaar) bring a lot to the table.

TNLF: Would you consider yourselves more of a live band or a studio band?

LT: Hopefully both! Bone Bazaar was more studio production than performance but, for our next recordings, we are really aiming to capture the energy and presence of a live band. With three of us now, we finally have the manpower to execute all the nuances of our songs.

TNLF: I hear you are recording some new material with some pretty impressive people. Can you tell me more about that?

LT: We’re about to begin work on our sophomore EP with Alex Lipsen, owner/engineer of Headgear Recording in Brooklyn. He liked Bone Bazaar and we have a lot of common musical influences so the project has been falling into place pretty naturally. He actually built Headgear from the ground up and it’s one of our favorite places to make music… we’re all pretty excited.

TNLF: What’s the plan after your EP is finished? Will you be touring? Do you have any label aspirations?

LT: We do plan on playing more often in and around the city in the next coming months in anticipation of the upcoming studio project with Alex, but in terms of post-recording aspirations… well, we’ll take it as it comes.

TNLF: I noticed the artwork on your website. Does visual art inspire your music or does music inspire your visual art? What is the correlation of visual art and music to you?

LT: All art is really about creating an atmosphere… combine multiple mediums and those illusions become more dense.
Sri songs are always written with some specific mood in mind, so parallels in visual art help us focus our own performances while simultaneously guiding listeners a little deeper into the music. Plus, I have some amazing artist friends that I love collaborating with..

Lea Thomas – Vocals, guitars, keys, bass
John Thayer – Drums, percussion
Keith Rigling – Guitar, keys, bass