Friday, October 03, 2008

Band of the Week

Wax Stag

Part of the experience of being a young musician is being a young musician! We saw it a few months ago with Sinkane, and now Rob Lee (a.k.a. Wax Stag) is showing us again how to be a young working musician. While working on his debut ep, Short Road, and debut self-titled full-length, Rob was also touring with both Friendly Fires and Clark. During this time he has learned a lot about himself, his music, and earned a ton of frequent flyer miles.

As Wax Stag, Rob has created a whole new world filled with analog synths, cloud cakes, bright colors, and playful melodies. Completely instrumental, his debut album floats through above most genres, and the '80's cheese and straight into its own category. Released this past Tuesday by the great young label People in The Sky, the cover design was done by Rob himself. Created from colorful cut-up pieces of card, the cover doesn't only fit well the Wax Stag sound, but with the look of the label as well.

Recently, Rob was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Your debut full-length as Wax Stag comes out on Sept 29th, How would describe this album?
Rob Lee (RL): It's called 'Wax Stag', it's by Wax Stag, and it contains forty-three minutes of instrumental electronic pop music.

OA: I really enjoy the design of your album covers and the video for "Short Road". Did you create the cover and the video yourself? Why did that concept come from?
RL: I made the covers for the EP and for the album, yes. A lot of people think they're made out of Fuzzy Felt, but they're just made out of coloured pieces of card, cut out and assembled, then scanned. They look a million times better when you actually hold the physical cover in your hands, I might add. I think the whole 'mountains, forests, clouds' thing comes from reading fairy tales - the 'Short Road EP' cover has a slight 'Hansel & Gretel' influence I suppose, although I'd
never thought about that until now. Also, I really love a lot of those progressive rock LP covers from the 70s - the ones with ridiculous paintings of fantastical worlds inhabited by wizards, and all that stuff - and I just thought it would be funny to have a cake made out of clouds in there, too.

With the video for 'Short Road', I just gave OWLS (the people who made it) a very vague brief. I told them that as long as there were cloud cakes in the video, I'd be happy.

OA: You also play bass for Friendly Fires, who are really becoming popular. In fact, I heard "Jump in the Pool" on the radio earlier this week. How are you preparing your tour of the states this fall with Lykke Li?
RL: We came over for a couple of weeks in the summer, and once again, we're going to be travelling light - I just have to remember how it was that I got all my stuff in my tiny suitcase the last time...

OA: "Short Road" is being released by People in the Sky. What has your experience been like with them? How does that compare to your experience with Beggars/XL?
RL: People In The Sky have been great so far. They're investing money and time in my instrumental electronic pop music, so right now I've got nothing but love for them. With Friendly Fires, I'm just a live player; I don't write or record with them. I'm not in any of the contracts, so I have very few direct dealings with Beggars or XL. However, they've treated us to a ton of amazing meals out, at various places around the world... so I've got to say that right now, I have nothing but love for them too!

OA: Not only are you making music as Wax Stag and with Friendly Fires, but you also record with Clark. That is three very different types of music. How do you keep it all straight?
RL: There was a point last summer when I'd be somewhere in Europe with Chris (Clark), and then have to fly back to the UK to play a Friendly Fires show the next day... and then I'd fly back out to Europe to play another festival with Chris. That stuff is just super exciting - I'd
never spent a summer like that before, so I was just enjoying it as much as I could. And as long as I'm doing one thing at a time, it's a piece of cake, as they say.

OA: What's next for Robert Lee and Wax Stag?
RL: For Wax Stag - there's another video on the way, which will be accompanied by an EP of some sort in early 2009. I'd like to make another album at some point too, but there's other stuff I want to do first. And for me, just me - I think most of the next year is going to revolve around Friendly Fires. Touring, and more touring. Hopefully writing some music along the way, if my laptop holds out. Oh, and hopefully Wax Stag can open for Friendly Fires at a few shows, if
they'll let me...

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup in your area?
RL: Yes, definitely. I'm a bigger fan of tea, but I've got a lot of love for coffee. In St Albans, where I live, the best cups of coffee are always the ones from the smaller, out-of-the-way cafes - of which there are many. I tend to drink coffee if I'm in town, partly because none of those places seem to know how to make a decent cup of tea...

OA: Not that you have time, but what was the last great book you have read?
RL: I always find time for books, even if it's a few pages a day. I've just finished reading an amazing book called 'Hall Of Best Knowledge' by Ray Fenwick. It's part illustration, part... something else entirely. It's in its own category; it's certainly one of the best things I've ever read. I bought four copies; it's that good. Look it up!

Wax Stag - Wax Stag (PITS009 - 9/29)

Short Road/And How/Folk Rock/Descant/Gold Gold/Fantasy Gay/Mirror Lantern/Glenferrie/The Wash/Leith/George White/Sson

For more information on Wax Stag please visit his website.

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