Normally, when I interview bands for these articles, I do some research and listen to their material. When I looked up Analogue Transit, though, it wasn’t so much for the magazine anymore–because I actually listened to them for my own ears. Born out of the hustle of New York City, Analogue Transit is one of those unconventional bands that makes you say, “I don’t think I’ve heard anything like this before.”
Sonic Eclectic: Let’s start with some basics. Who is in the band and how did you first come together?
Jeff Shreiner: There’s two of us in the band. Myself, and Kwaku. We actually came together when we were in a previous band.
Kwaku Aning: I sang and played guitar, Jeff played drums and one day I went over his house and we just got to jamming. And we actually ended up starting to write. And now, here we are three years later.
SE: What music did you grow up listening to? Who were some of your influences?
KA: I grew up listening to jazz. And a lot of rock music too. Led Zeppelin, The Doors, AC/DC, Pearl Jam. Then as I got older, I got into Radiohead.
JS: I was really into all sorts of things. I was even into like Native American drums and rhythms and whistles and things like that. More recently, bands like 311, Incubus. Like Kwaku said, Radiohead. A lot of contemporary bands definitely play a role in how I think musically now.
KA: We both also love Mute Math. I really like Beck.
JS: I’m a big Imogen Heap fan.
SE: Why did you start this band? When did you realize that music was something you wanted to pursue?
JS: I’ve been doing music ever since I can remember. And I mean doing it. I’d say my mom’s the one who—I don’t know if I’d say influenced me, but definitely punished me by making me practice. But, now I thank her for it. Music was just all I knew growing up, so it’s all I know now.
KA: All my memories of music were from my dad. He had a huge record collection. As a kid, I’d just come up with ideas for songs, that was just my thing. When you strike something that feels so genuine and so right, you just know that you’re going to want to pursue it.
SE: Are there any themes in the lyrics?
KA: Hope. Forgiveness. Appreciating mistakes, because they make you better.
SE: What do the songs mean to you and what do you hope to get across to your fans?
KA: Hm…that’s deep.
JS: That’s a weird question, I’ll be honest.
KA: [Laughs] It’s powerful, though.
JS: Well, you get attached to different parts of the song throughout the whole process. You can get attached to a drum beat or guitar riff. There’s a lot of different meanings at different points in time with the same song.
KA: I’d like to think people get their own things out of songs. I think I’d rather have people form their own experience around the songs.
JS: Hopefully it inspires in whatever way that music does to people. Whether it gets you thinking or helps you get over things, get through things.
KA: Makes you feel confident. Or psyches you up.
JS: Inspire, is what I hope it does.
KA: We create it, you do with it what you will.
SE: Can you talk about your experiences with the NYC music scene vs. different areas?
KA: When we were gonna go down to North Carolina, we actually were worried that what we created wouldn’t translate outside of New York. But in fact, it’s the exact opposite. When we play outside New York, we actually sell more merch. They’re more attentive, I think because in New York, there’s so much going on. Everything is always buzzing.
JS: Overstimulation. So often, you just get lumped with other bands that have nothing to do with your sound. In New York, the music scene is very eclectic but that’s what makes it hard to become more established.
KA: Which is interesting, because the way we fit in is that we don’t. Because we’re trying not to, we’re doing our own thing.
JS: We had a darn good show when we played the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
KA: Oh, that was amazing.
JS: It was just the two of us as a duo and we played to a packed house. The sound system was really good, the people were really into it—
KA: My parents were in the front!
JS: His parents were in the front. Yeah, that was a great show. We played well, sounded good, and got a great response.
KA: It was a defining moment. It was in such a professional setting and we’ve been playing in a rehearsal space for two years just writing songs and it felt good to finally get to perform them at a place that had a backstage area and everything.
SE: Can you talk about your songwriting process?
JS: It’s different every single time. There’s no formula, there’s just things that you know will work. A lot of it comes with experimentation and taking out the best out of what you find. Kwaku does pretty much all the lyrics, and he has his own process for that.
KA: I sing about things that are meaningful to me but are universal and can be applied to anyone.
SE: What other challenges or sacrifices have been particularly difficult in making the band work?
KA: Money and time will always f*ck you. If you’re making money, then you don’t have enough time. But if you have all the time in the world, then you’re not making any money.
JS: Just maintaining a balance.
JS: It definitely comes down to faith, too. In not only ourselves but in our project. And with that in mind, defeat is really not a final option, you just keep moving, keep doing it.
SE: How has the band progressed?
KA: When we played our first show, it took us 35 minutes to set up for a 25 minute set. We brought incense, we brought Christmas lights, we wanted to bring a fog machine…
JS: I had like three keyboards, one of which was an 88 key.
KA: We’re way more professional now.
JS: Much more streamlined. And practical. We can put together a huge setup now in minutes, which I credit to the New York “get in, get out” mentality.
KA: And we’ve become better performers. We’re not just songwriters, we’ll entertain you. So come see us play.
SE: What’s the hardest part about being in this band? What’s the easiest?
KA: Sometimes it’s hard that there’s only two of us. Like we’ll play with other musicians sometimes, but we’ll coordinate everything. Schedules, etc. Easiest part is working with Jeff. He’s a genius. He makes what I do look really easy.
JS: I don’t know what’s hard, really. It seems like one day, something’s hard and then the next it’s something else that’s harder.
JS: [Laughs] Yeah, the longer you go, the harder it gets.
SE: What’s the payoff in all of this? At the end of the day, what’s the one thing you hope to accomplish?
KA: This is a career. We want to make a living out of this. We want to be able to do this continuously and get to the point where our grandkids come to our shows.
JS: I want to produce records. And with our sound that we’ve developed, produce other people. Like Kwaku said, do shows. Just put the music out so people can enjoy it.
SE: What does the future hold for Analogue Transit?
KA: The future is unlimited with what we’re doing and our approach and work ethic. We could be with Jay-Z in two weeks, who knows.
JS: Maybe some collaborations with other acts. Hopefully be on some great tours, releasing more albums. You know, just doing it.
SE: What advice would you give to any aspiring musicians?
KA: Play with people you like. Because people can become better musicians, they don’t become better people.
JS: Advice from my grandfather, just keep the faith. You’re always gonna find someone who loves what you do as frequently as you find someone who hates what you do. As long as you’re happy with what you’re doing, that’s all that matters.
Check the Analogue Transit website for new releases and tour dates! http://www.analoguetransit.com/