Creative BC News

Air Stranger

Feb 7, 2019 | Funding Recipient

Paper and Fire is Air Stranger's debut EP. This release showcases their unique compositional style, defined by jazzy brass and woodwinds, lush harmonies, danceable grooves, great vocals, and unparalleled virtuosity on their instruments.


What are the themes in your album?


There are primary two themes associated with this album. One is relationship distress and the other is financial instability. These themes are demonstrated by Guy's lyrics in the songs, and also by the artwork that Jeff created for the album cover. However, each song is also unique and has its own meaning independent of the others. For example, Tightrope is about someone who has become a sort of stranger to the world and is tempted to commit suicide. As such, the meaning does not cleanly fit the aforementioned themes, but it does follow in a similar vein.


Any meaningful songs?


The first track on the album, Sign, is about the financial instability that many experience in their daily lives. Illustrating this theme, it opens with a gritty, aggressive funk sound reminiscent of Parliament-Funkadelic, with minimalist modal horn lines punctuating the phrases sung by Guy Wilkins. When the chorus begins, the drums switch to a double time beat and the guitars and bass interweave to form an energetic alt-rock sound. Guy's sing-a-long refrain, "I need a sign," echoed by various background tracks effectively turns this tune around into a hopeful rock anthem, but only for a short time before switching to back to the groovy, yet somber funk verse.

The second chorus leads to a dramatic drop in energy, signaled by the lack of drums, sparser bass lines, and clean guitar arpeggios. But the bass plays a chord outlined by harmonics, and immediately the tempo jumps back to where it was at the chorus, queuing Guy's rugby-like vocal chant before leading to a string-bending, shredding guitar solo that puts Seb's virtuosity on full display. Finally the chorus comes in one last time to complete the rock anthem.


Did anything surprising happen during the recording process?


We had to re-record the backing vocals during the chorus to "Piece of Pie" because the original recorded as a gang vocal did not suit the song. Instead, we had Guy come in and sing a different phrase and half the number of phrases for the chorus to give it more space. A wrong note slipped through in the harmony vocals in the song "Tightrope" in the final mix. It was difficult to sing the right note because the chord it happens over changes the key in the middle of the chord progression. Thus, we had to do a full re-mix of the song in the studio with the re-tuned harmony vocal.


Rave about someone!


Jeff Ojeda, who did the artwork for this project, was extremely helpful, both in advising the band about the artwork and printing and also in collaborating with them on their vision for the album cover. He spent tireless hours working on the album cover and his artistic ingenuity is unparalleled in this city. His vision of the artwork is truly unique and the album cover illustrates both the dark lyrical themes of relationship distress and financial instability, and it suits the music perfectly.



Creative BC is proud to support Air Stranger as part of the Sound Recording Program and the Careers of BC Artists Program.