Following on from a breadth of bright and sweeping lo-fi offerings over the last few months, singer and songwriter Drew Danburry aka Icarus Phoenix now looks to serenade us once again with his latest offering 'Zero One, For Will Sartain'.
With its bright and seductive overtones, 'Zero One, For Will Sartain' makes for a wonderfully smooth and joyful listen. Lifted from his forthcoming debut album and filled with uplifting prose, laid-back aesthetic, and a delightfully mellow vocal performance, this new delight is sure to fill your heart with warmth and calm from start to finish.
So with his new single now doing the rounds, we sat down with him to find out more about his background and what has inspired him most over the years.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
I can never remember the name of the specific Casio keyboard but I remember you could sample sounds and it’d spit them back out. And it had a bunch of different audio settings and demos. I’d always set it up to play classical songs with dogs barking the melody. I was pretty young and it just fascinated me. All the different things you could do with it.
What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?
What kind of music did you love as a teenager?
Initially, in my early teens, it was oldies radio. At the time they were playing a lot of late 50’s early 60’s. So like Dion, Everly Brothers, stuff like that. But later in high school, Weezer, Wu-Tang, Gorilla Biscuits, Fugazi. A bunch of others. But I’ll keep it simple. I think having a conversation about music with any musician is usually never ending. In a good way, of course.
Can you remember the first song that made you want to pursue a life in music?
'Butterfly' by Weezer was the song that inspired me to learn guitar. I felt like it was such a simple but powerful song when I first heard it. I had grown a bit tired of a lot of the mechanisms of 90’s ska/punk. The ska guitars on the verse moving into the stomp on a distortion pedal chorus felt a bit redundant and at the time I felt like stripped down acoustic music was more “real”. It couldn’t hide it’s songwriting behind any tricks or effects. It had to just be a good song. Now, I think that’s a huge oversimplification but at the time I remember feeling that way.
Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?
PUP, Big Thief, J.W. Teller, Jenn Champion, Midwife, Garden Gate, Misty Moon, Supermoon, Rabbit, Peyton Rodeffer, Ben Ricketts and Jason Anderson forever. Really I’ve been listening to everything I own on shuffle. But those are some of the musicians with recent releases that I’ve liked.
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
All of them? All of them...yep…..All of them.
What has been the most unusual moment in your career so far?
It’s an endless barrage of weird experiences, honestly. Though when I moved to Missoula, Montana three years ago (we’re about to move again) I spent the first year playing in coffee shops as background music. It was a way to crush my ego and a fun social experiment. To just be ignored. But one time, I played a song and it ends with the word “shit” and one of the patrons of the coffee shop came up and said “You know, you show a real lack of talent when you curse in your music.” so I said ”Thank you”. And he said “No I mean it!” And then I don’t remember the specific words but he basically called me talentless and terrible. So I said “Thank you”. And he got even angrier and stormed out cursing/non-cursing me. And it made me really happy. Because I had been playing in coffee shops for a year. And over the time I’d spent playing songs to myself in a noisy crowded room I came to some key realisations. Other people’s opinion often mean very little. Or at least the person’s credibility must be questioned. It’s not about you so much as it’s about them. I feel confident about my songwriting. So much that I don’t need people’s attention to know that what I’m doing has merit. But I’m never going to be “great”. I’m only going to be better than average. As in, if you walk into a coffee shop and I’m playing you might think to yourself that it isn’t fucking terrible. And that’s kind of where I fit in the musical world.
Outside of music, what is your biggest passion?
My family. I got a good one. In fact, as soon as I’m done answering questions. I’m gonna go spend time with them. I like them.
If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?
That’s hard to imagine. I was working in the film industry for a while. What I liked about music is that I could do it by myself. Been barbering for ten years now. I like it. I worked on a farm for a while. There’s lots of things I could do. I’m just not sure what I would do creatively to satiate my soul. I do lots of film and hand drawn animation. I have lots of hobbies. Photography. Skateboarding. Music is just my favorite of all of them. But I got lots of paths I tread all over.
And what advice would you give to other musicians looking to start a career in music?
Find a job that pays the bills that you can mentally leave behind when the day is done. If you’re doing art for you, chances are it might not appeal to the masses. If it appeals to the masses, chances are it’s probably not authentic. Regardless, find a job so you're not stressing about paying bills and eating. If you’re trying to feed yourself with art you’re going to start making art that might not be true to you but sells. You’ll start looking at your artistic expression less as art and more as business, and the thing you started doing because it filled your soul will no longer do so. For some people, music is just business and that’s fine. But if you’re trying to make something that matters to you, then do it on the side...that’s my advice. Otherwise, just sell out and make a bunch of pop songs about love. The chords are C Em F and G. Make the underlying beat really simple (four on the floor) but put a shaker in there so it has a nice gallop rhythm to it and then you got yourself a hit. Amen.
Icarus Phoenix's new single 'Zero One, For Will Sartain' is available to stream and download now. Watch the video for it in the player below.