Gettin' Down With Fractal Sky

Exploding within the festival scene and sharing shows with artists such as Griz, EOTO, and Big Gigantic, Fractal Sky has been on the rise, to say the least.  With Aaron Spence at the helm solo for years, and additions Jon Jackson and Oscar Torres as of late, it seems the band has found the winning combination for moving forward.  Given their upcoming show at George's Majestic Lounge on October 24th, we took the chance to sit down with the trio over a couple of pints at Purtian Brew Co., to talk about the band’s past, current, and future projects and aspirations.

FC - The name Fractal Sky evokes a beautiful image.  How did it come about, and what does it mean to you all as a creative group?

Aaron - My buddies and I use to watch this plug in while listening to music, and it’s of a huge fractal, moving through an animated sky. When I started thinking of a name for our music project, it just clicked.

FC - Aaron, you have used Fractal Sky moniker personally since 2010. Can you give us a quick history of your musical background and how the rest of band came into play?

Aaron - My interest in music all started on the piano with my grandma, and later I was a part of the high school jazz band. I got into pop-punk, metal, grindcore, etc. all around the same time.  After a song-creating project in one of my classes, I just kept making music.

As I discovered newer music, I slowed my bpms down from 140 to like 90 for that hip hop, glitch hop feel. That was 2007-2008, also the time I started thinking of a name for my project. One night I played for my boy’s birthday, who just liked my music and wanted to hear it, and I just went with it from there.

John - I saw Aaron open up for Michael Menert almost two years ago, and I had heard about him, and wanted to meet this guy. So I went to George’s, vibed with Aaron, and we started developing after that.  

Oscar - I was actually at that show too.  None of us knew each other yet though, but I did know Aaron’s sister.  She mentioned he was looking for a drummer about a year ago, and so we got synced up through that.

FC - How was performing at Backwoods Music Festival? Favorite show, meet any artists who’ve influenced you, etc.?

A - Life changing. It was really a whole new taste of a whole new number. That’s definitely where we want to be. The outdoors aspect of festivals alone make them totally unique. The bigger stages are a totally different game.  

J - Just compared to the indoor stages we’ve played on, the stage we played on at Backwoods was definitely an intense experience. Their professionalism, the crew running the whole thing, it was just top notch.

A - As far as crowd goes I do like the smaller shows just because you're right in their face. You feel more intimate in those enclosed spaces. There's lots of great networking with other artists as well. We met Herobust, and Porter Robinson there, which was amazing.

FC - You cite emotions as a primary motivator for the creation of your music.  What kind of energy do you aim to imbue your sound with in this sense?  

A - Just life in general. You go through it every day, with so many different feelings. We grab inspiration from many things, and I try to reflect on those through my music.  Sometimes I may be pissed off, sometimes I may be sad, or really happy and the tracks reflect that. 

FC - Aside from raw emotions, what in the world inspires you to create music?

A - I love going outside to walk, hike, and get away from the city if I’m in a writer’s block or rut. Also, little meditations help me get into my own world. I feel refreshed afterwards.

FC - Speaking of getting in the zone, do you all have any pre or post show rituals?

A - Before shows we’ve been doing this little huddling up thing. We haven’t actually set it as a thing, but I notice one of us before a show will catch another and go “HEY”, and we’ll put our heads together in a group. I think we’ve been doing it more because it let’s us hone in and get on the same page.

After the show we like to chill-- hug, see the friends, wind down. A lot of times we are really tired. We don’t necessarily go out and party right after we get done.  We reflect on what happened during the show on a couch over a few beers, try not be too critical, and just process.  

FC - What do you aim to leave your audiences with after a show?  Do different sets have different goals in mind?

A - We have songs that have a certain place in our arsenal for sure. Openers, closers, powerful, or intense feels all have their place. A lot of times our basic goal is to raise eyebrows. Like, what was that!? That is something not everyone is doing, and it’s definitely worth being watched and respected.

FC - Are most of the set lists premeditated or improv?

A - We rehearse the shit out of shows. For example, months before Backwoods, we had our set down, just to match their level of production. We rehearsed it I don’t know how many times before that show.

For Backwoods we had dancers, so we had to have it mapped out so they came into the studio at practice, and they had to learn the songs, so they could get an idea.  They’d come to us with ideas for themes, burlesque and aerial routines. The festival helped us put it all together and there was some really cool interplay with the festival based on factors we didn’t even think about, like where the sun would be, where the fire should be, etc. It all made sense when we put it together.

FC - You blend soulful vocals , electronic backbeats, and live instruments which all stem from different musical roots.  Do you think the genres as a whole are evolving into new forms, or that there’s just more freedom now for artists to blur the lines between them?

A - I think over years and years, even when they were doing fifties soul and blues, it’s all kind of turned into forms of rock. Now that computers are around, we’re all so melded together, and the artists making good music really doing seem to give a shit about the genre lines.  I don’t want to label myself as electro-funk-soul, I just like music.

I do think the live performance is becoming a bigger part of the DJ scene.  Incorporating live instrumentation gains you so much recognition, and the crowd really responds.

FC - How has the music scene in the NWA area developed since you began?

A - Technology is just really moving forward in general. It's more dynamics-- layering live instruments over tracks wasn’t as common five years ago. The merging of it all is fun and amazing.

FC - What are some of your favorite venues to play, and why?

A - George’s Majestic is always there, and always will be there. Webbles, in Fort Smith, was really cool since I’m from there. We’ve also had some good times at The Shrine in Tulsa.  

FC - What trends do you see taking off in the next couple years?  

A - More live performance. Higher levels of stage and album production, focusing on the performance as the whole. For Fractal Sky I feel like we were on the right track by bringing the dancers on board.

FC - What would you say your biggest accomplishment in music has been thus far, and what goals do you have for the future?

A - Backwoods is our biggest accomplishment as a band to date. Going to Canada to play at PK Sound was huge as well.  It’s been good for us lately. The new album has a few tracks that haven’t been released that are definitely album worthy. We're looking to get that out next year. So that, and going on tour for a couple weeks is what we’re looking to do in the future. 

Check out Fractal Sky at George’s Majestic Lounge this Saturday, October 24th, to see and hear, first hand, what all the buzz is about.

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