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  • Molly Cotham

Everything is Good with Foreign Air (Interview)


From getting started as musicians to cultivating positive messages through songs that resonate with listeners - Foreign Air talks all about it.

We had the chance to talk with Jake and Jesse of Washington D.C. based band, Foreign Air, after the release of one of their most recent singles, “Everything is Good Now” at the end of February. They went on tour during March and April, but not before talking with us at their Nashville show right at the beginning of the tour. Read all about their story, how they got started as a band, making music and more.

How did you start out as musicians?

Jake - I grew up around music. My mom always had it on and had a huge vinyl collection that I would dig through as a kid, and I got inspired by the visual aspect of it. I wasn’t very musical growing up until high school and it just turned into a way to connect to other people outside of my high school. I was very much a loner at my school. So, I took the metro down to D.C. and met people in local bands and found that there was a whole community there.

What was it like entering the music scene for you guys?

Jake - Jesse and I have been friends for a while. We played a show together in North Carolina and ten years later when both our bands were ending we just hit each other up, and I think Jesse sent me some music. I have always been a fan of his, but he sent me some new music that he was working on and I was psyched on it, we started sending some ideas back and forth.

I drove down to Charlotte and we just worked for a week straight writing songs and working on some ideas and stuff like that. "Free Animal" was one of the first songs that we wrote together. I think that Jesse picked me up from the airport and had the melody on a voice note. He played it for me and I just thought it was so cool and we dove into it and started working on it in his room.

So you clicked instantly, music wise?

Jake - Yea, I think it also helped because we had been friends for so long and knew each others styles.

Jesse - Also, I guess it kind of birthed on SoundCloud. We started releasing music and we hadn’t thought about playing live or anything like that yet. We built a little bit of a following or some sort of recognition through the internet and eventually transitioned to figuring out how to do it all live in terms of electronics. It was a whole other beast to tame.

You’re doing everything independently, so you’re not signed to a label at the moment?

Jake - Right. That is a really important thing to us too. We own all of our own music. Everything that is Foreign Air, we touch with our hands. It never comes from someone else.

You have a hand in everything then.

Jake - Everything. Even mixing now. Jesse has really been diving into mixing our stuff. A friend of his is doing the mastering. It’s becoming more internal. All the little moving pieces, we’re just learning how to do all of these things.

That makes the music more special for not only you but the fans as well.

Jake - It really does. We like the challenge too. That is kind of how the project started. We got these things called machines. We didn’t know how to play them. So learning how to use those through watching YouTube videos inspired a lot of the songs we were writing. Then we started getting keyboards and using how to use those tools inspired a lot of the songs early on.

What would be your dream collab?

Jake - Working with Beck would be really cool just because I believe that he works in a similar manner that we do. I feel like we would speak the same language and that’s really exciting. Like when you meet a complete stranger but you kinda get each other because you have the same influences or you work the same way. In my head I feel like that would be a really easy connection.

(To Jesse) You probably have a different one.

Jesse - I think that is a good one.

Jake - We normally have different answers. The cool thing about Foreign Air is that we are very different. We come from different worlds but Foreign Air is always the center. One pulls to the left and one pulls to the right. Usually in every aspect of it, which is a fun challenge to try and please both of us.

What would you being doing if you weren’t musicians?

Jake - Architect. I like design and building things and things you can touch.

Jesse - Probably something in cinema. Something in that world.

With your most recent single, “Everything is Good Now,” you describe how happy you have been lately. What’s the inspiration for this song? Or can you think of a catalyst or event that inspired that song?

Jake - We got super rich. I am just joking! I think that when we first started the project, our bands had just broken up and we were coming to the age of 30. We were in our twenties still and that’s kind of a scary thing. Like, here is the next chapter but there is still a lot of uncertainty about that next chapter. Doing music full time and supporting ourselves off that, which I think we had both done in our twenties.

When that ended, you’re just kind of left with pieces and you have to start over and reinvent yourself a little bit. You’re just trying to figure it all out. It’s a very confusing time. I think we both shared a lot of those same worries and working with Foreign Air we have had a lot of exciting opportunities. We have been able to make music, record music, tour, and then also live and eat and pay our bills.

You guys are doing music full time now. Like, this is it?

Jake - Yea, full time. This is it. And I am very skeptical of it too. That is kinda where the name comes from. It’s almost too good to be true so I think it drives us to work really hard. Jesse had a line in a song that never got put out, or hasn’t been put out I should say. It always stuck out to me. It just made me feel a certain way. It was a very reflective lyric that he wrote. Then one day we were working on an artwork thing and it blew up too big where the “Fo” was on of the page and the rest of Foreign Air was off the page. And we were just like “eign”. I was like that looks kinda cool, what could that mean and I was like, oh, that’s like his lyric. And it all just came full circle. Then we wrote a song called “Everything is Good Now” like a year later maybe.

Jesse - And you can kind of hear if you listen to our released music over the timeline in terms of the three years that we have been putting out music. It is very moody and dark. We somewhat purposefully experimented with a positive message. It was like, what can we do? I want to feel good too.

Music is very powerful at manipulating emotions and we obviously write things that make us feel a certain way almost to perpetuate that feeling. It can get really dark, really quick, and you have to pay attention to what you are inputting into yourself and how you feed the world. I feel like this is our "what can we do positive and not just tell everyone how strange and dark the world is." It can be really easy to do that and it can be really hard to put out something positive that still resonates with people and doesn’t sound like a cop out or something cheesy. A lot of times when I am feeling really strange or in my head, I put on these certain records that ground me.

So, you want it to be a song that helps ground people and get them out of their heads?

Jesse - Yea, something that you hear and you’re like… I’m in a good mood. I feel like for me, it is really new and special to be able to do that because I haven’t done that very often, if ever, with music I have released. Like something more on the happier spectrum. Something more positive I would say. Which I think is really fun and I don’t think that this is where this project is going but right now this is a statement.

Jake - Also, when you’re writing music it is very reaction based. I think we have both talked about it before. We both feel like we are in a very good place right now, so that obviously makes you feel a certain way. You open yourself to more positive chord voicings and stuff like that. It’s weird, everything is super connected and your surroundings inspire and influence you and the music you make.

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Make sure you check out their single “Everything is Good Now” and their newest release, "The Therapist," and keep your eyes out for any future tour dates! Follow them through the links below to keep up with them.

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | SoundCloud | Spotify | iTunes/Apple Music | Website

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