I first heard Modeling last year, a few months into the pandemic. Their song “Lodestone” instantly floored me, an oddity and an earworm.
Its dark cinematic opening somehow transitions into a nostalgic pop song that you can dance to while doom scrolling. It felt like a lifeline while I was stuck inside, a song that connects you to the past and future. Yes, it’s that good. One of the best I’ve heard from a Fayetteville band.
The band has been teasing a new song “Nothing Unexpected,” which comes out on Feb. 18. Check out their excellent teaser videos, and pre-save it however you stream music. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we can all see a live show in late 2021 or 2022. Fingers crossed.
I talked to Modeling about their sound and the usual topics, and here it goes…
What: “Nothing Unexpected” single from Modeling
When: To be released on Feb. 18, 2021
Where: Pre-save link here
How would you describe your music to a stranger?
Ryan: This has always been a struggle for us. I’d probably say electronic music that is influenced by movies, dance music and contemporary classical with our choice of instrument being the synthesizer.
Cuinn: I think of impressionism when trying to describe our music, or at least I want to because it sounds nice. We focus heavily on the mood/atmosphere and emotion when creating music. Letting the music tell the story alongside the lyrics or in the absence of them. I know that answer doesn’t really give much of a specific sound to categorize us with, but I think that kinda suits us. Mainly because we always want to change our sound or style, we call it phasing, but we still keep the same intentions of creating an immersive world for whatever we make to live in.
Connor: I’d say the main component that’s prevalent in all iterations of our music is emotion. It’s the driving force behind everything we create. If it doesn’t make us feel something, then it’s not worth pursuing.
Last year was horrible. What made it easier for you? How did the band adapt?
Ryan: Agreed. It was terrible. Luckily I’ve been a recluse for most of my life so it wasn’t too difficult to adapt. The extra time indoors allowed us to really focus on producing more music. The year before and years prior, we always felt obligated to perform live which has never been easy for us. The time and energy put into that took a lot of time away from writing new music. I still feel we’re a bit slow with our output, but we’ve definitely made some progress during the pandemic.
Connor: Last year sucked, but the circumstances did allow us more time to delve into all the music related stuff Ryan mentioned, plus I was able to enroll in an online cinematography and lighting course which I think has benefited us a bit too. So some good came out of it.
What have you been working on lately?
Ryan: We’ve been working on finishing this EP we started at the beginning of 2020. It’ll have our previous released singles “Lodestone”, “Low Fantasy,” our new single “Nothing Unexpected” (out 2.18.21) and three more unereleased tracks. We’re looking to finish up by late spring or early summer of 2021. Aside from the music, we’ve been creating all of the content that will accompany the music; Artwork, Photos, Merch, Website and Video. Everything we do is in-house, so it can get very time consuming. There are deep learning curves involved with all of this, so a lot of my time is taken up with online classes and youtube tutorials. This is my excuse for our slow output (laughs).
What was the last book or film that influenced your music? And what have you been reading and watching?
Ryan: I love this question. The last couple of films I watched were Alien and Aliens. These are definitely not new, and I’ve seen them a thousand times, but there is something about that world and mood that is currently relevant to the art we are creating. It’s also similar to the world this EP lives in, a sort of fictional dystopian world. A more recent film would probably be Midsommar.
Cuinn: Last year would have been the year to read a little more, but I didn’t (laughs). I’ll echo Ryan and say Midsommar. Although I saw this film like two years ago I’ve rewatched it multiple times in 2020, and listen to the film-score regularly. Actually rewatched it over christmas break, to get in the spirit. There are just so many emotional layers to that film, it has definitely become an all time favorite for me.
Connor: I have this book by french poet and author Michel Houellebecq called The Art of Struggle which I read pretty regularly and another called The Guide to MIDI Orchestration by Paul Gilreath that I always reference when arranging our orchestral elements in our songs. As for movies, Drive and There Will Be Blood have been a consistent influence and Midsommar is the most recent.
What’s your favorite venue in Arkansas? Is it harder to work out songs without live shows?
Ryan: I’d have to say it’s a tie between George’s Majestic Lounge, Smoke & Barrel, and White Water Tavern. George’s is great because it’s a traditional venue solely focused on music. They probably have the best sound system which is a plus for the type of music we play. The latter two venues just have an amazing atmosphere and vibe. They’re smaller, but they feel warm and more like a community. The sound isn’t amazing, but it almost doesn’t matter at these shows.
We’ve never written music through the lens of a live performance, so it’s actually been easier to have more time to focus on these tracks at home in our studio.
Is there a local business that has made pandemic life better for you? What have they done differently and why do you support them?
Ryan: I rarely left my apartment in 2020, but I did discover The Hip Cafe which is this quaint little coffee shop located here in Fayetteville. They have amazing vegan cakes and really good deli-esque sandwiches. Also everything is mostly plant-based. This made eating with my girlfriend a lot easier when we were too exhausted from doing nothing all day to cook.
Cuinn: Onyx, because the second cup of coffee is absolutely vital.
Connor: I second The Hip Cafe and I also really love this amazing food truck called Outsliders. They have an entirely plant-based menu consisting of burgers, chicken, mac and cheese and all the usual stuff in that food genre.
Any guilty pleasures you’d like to confess for the first time?
Ryan: (hmmm) I don’t really have any. Maybe when I shop online for clothing. I look in the women’s section often because their clothes are almost always more interesting than men’s. This also gives me more options since I’m not really a big person. I’m not sure if this counts because it genuinely makes my life easier.
Connor: I like to watch YouTubers play video games when I’m stressed out. I don’t know if I feel guilty about it, but it’s something I don’t necessarily share because it doesn’t feel like something worth sharing (laughs).
Cuinn: I really hate to say it… The Bachelor.
What are your plans for 2021?
Ryan: Our first goal is to finish this EP by the spring or summer, then we plan to produce a lot more video content. That ranges from performance, live, music videos, visuals and some behind the scenes. We plan to do a full live set of the EP recorded from our studio. I know we have 3 or 4 more singles we’ll release after as follow ups. Depending on where we’re at with the virus, we’d love to perform live again.
When it’s safe to do so – what’s the first restaurant you eat inside? First live show you travel to see?
Ryan: First restaurant is Arsaga’s because I miss leaving the apartment for breakfast. They’re also one of the few places that serve vegan options.
First live show is Jon Hopkins.
Who are your favorite Arkansas bands?
Connor, Ryan, Cuinn: shoutout to our friends; Serrano-Torres, Tyler Tradewell, Elephantom, Amos Cochran, Boom Kinetic, Low Spirits, Couch Jackets, Banzai Florist, The Funkanites
Any words of wisdom to anyone out there looking to start a band or write a song?
Ryan: Set deadlines. Release that song you’re too scared to release. Learn the business and how to market the music you spend so much time on. Don’t skimp on secondary aspects because they all matter – artwork, photos, videos, website, social media, and the story. Invest in your music and invest in your education. I say these things as reminders to hold myself accountable.
Cuinn: Get uncomfortable. The not knowing is the interesting part, there’s a chance for something new in ignorance. Also everything Ryan said… you’ve got some work to do (laughs).
Connor: Everything Ryan and Cuinn said. Don’t let your insecurities be what holds you back.