An Interview With Pop-Rock Trio, HYDROGEN SKYLINE About Their Recently Released Album, “Photovoltaic” And More!
Posted On 10 Oct 2016
Meet the Colorado Springs electro-pop/rock trio Hydrogen Skyline. Made up of vocalist Asher Skyline, her husband Norman on keyboards and his twin brother Mark on guitars, their third full-length album Photovoltaic was released on August 26th.
Also worthy of note is that Photovoltaic was successfully funded by the band’s fans on Kickstarter, where they raised nearly 120% of their initial $5,000 goal. Thanks to the fans, they were able to have the album mastered by none other than Dominick Maita (Fall Out Boy, Hawthorne Heights).
Follow Hydrogen Skyline here:
Official Website: http://www.hydrogenskyline.com/
Learn more about Hydrogen Skyline in the following All Access interview:
Q: Thanks for your time! Now that we’re entering the fall of 2016, what are some words you would use to describe this year? What have been some of the highlights for the band?
A: 2016 in a word has been “awescidical”! It’s just been a rush for us from writing to promoting the new record, and a thrilling ride from day to day.
One of the biggest highlights has been exceeding our Kickstarter funding goals to make the album. It’s fairly easy for us to say we have the best fans and friends on the planet! Also getting to work with some great people in the music industry like Jeoff Harris and Dominick Maita to get the record polished. Even writing the songs was a great highlight for us. We’ve had quite the enjoyable year for the band.
Q: Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall your earliest musical memories?
A: I don’t think any of us considered seriously being musicians until we were in high school or college. Mark wanted to be a pro skateboarder, Asher wanted to be a firefighter or police officer and nearly joined the Air Force, and I (Norman) wanted to be a marine biologist or painter/sculptor!
Across the board we took music lessons as kids – piano, guitar, drums, choir, etc. but none of it stuck. One of my earliest memories is of taking piano lessons with my brother and sister and just making poop jokes the entire time to the point where our teacher was nearly pulling her hair out! I got more serious about it when taking drum lessons as a freshman and learning to play some of my favorite albums, which eventually led to joining bands and the road to actually writing music.
Q: How did Hydrogen Skyline first come together? How did you come up with your band name?
A: Hydrogen Skyline started out from my solo project merging with a former band around Christmas of 2010. Asher had to listen to us practice in my studio and eventually offered to try out on vocals. For a time we cycled through people playing in the band and not really making any progress besides a handful of “okay” songs. When the core three of us converged (2012), it was because we saw Mark playing with another band and really liked his style, so we jokingly offered him to join us – which to our surprise, he called the next day to try out.
There are a lot of stories circling how Hydrogen Skyline came to be the band’s name, but the actual story is that Hydrogen Skyline is an anagram of what we originally had been calling the band.
Q: What is the music scene like in Colorado Springs? How do you think being from there has influenced your sound?
A: The music scene here is eclectic and growing a lot. When the band started out, the scene was predominantly hard rock and metal, but it’s slowly opened up to more pop and alternative music styles. Being from the Springs has influenced our sound mainly due to the bands we associate with, play shows with and “compete” with. The Springs is typically a tough crowd for music because there are so many other things to do here than going to shows; so you really have to figure out how to wow people and convince them that seeing your band is better than climbing Pikes Peak.
Q: What’s it like being in a band made up of all family members? Do you find that it’s brought you all closer?
A: Being in a band full of family members is interesting and a double edged sword at times! On one hand, we know each other really well and can be more direct and blunt, but on the other hand, we know each other too well and that often can cause some conflict in regard to being overly invested in each other’s personal lives.
I think it has brought us closer and helped us to make amazing music because we’ve had common goals and have had to fight together to achieve them.
Q: Can you talk about your recently released new album, “Photovoltaic”? Where did the inspiration for it come from? How long did it take to put together?
A: The inspiration for Photovoltaic came from our collective experience in this band as well as some new outlooks on life. As stated above, we’ve had the same goals to fight for, but we’ve also had the same struggles with people and networks and even other bands making our career more difficult. For instance, we all had some friend hardships leading up to 2016 and a supposed sponsor of our band who screwed us over monetarily, so that gave us inspiration for the song “Dropping Names”. Another example is the stress of life and process of overcoming it both in and out of the band that led us to write “Inhale / Exhale”.
We started writing Photovoltaic in early 2015 after coming back from a hiatus and kicking our long time drummer out of the band. It took most of 2015 to write, then the beginning of 2016 to sift through the songs, make adjustments, and polish them up before recording in April 2016.
Q: I’m curious to know what it was like raising all the money for “Photovoltaic” on Kickstarter? Were you surprised that you were able to fund the album through it?
A: To raise the money for the record on Kickstarter was amazing and it was a ton of work! We’ve seen friends’ bands who tried to raise money for their projects and fell severely short, so we knew in order to make it happen that we had to really buckle down and figure out what made a crowdfunding project successful and if we would be able to make it.
There definitely was confidence going into our Kickstarter campaign because we had spent a lot of time researching and planning out what we were going to do; however, there wasn’t a guarantee that we’d meet our goal, so yes, there was a good amount of surprise that we had succeeded as we watched the numbers climb above our goal!
Q: What if anything has surprised you about the music industry? What do you think has been your biggest challenge? And what do you think has come really naturally to you?
A: What has surprised us the most about the music industry is how saturated it is with potential and talent. When you listen to the radio, your iPod, or a streaming service, sometimes it’s easy to think that all the good music in the world exists right there within your playlists – but not so! There was a time I thought that there was this major gap between local bands and the mainstream, but after spending so much time and effort climbing the ladder of the music business, I have come to discover that there is a vast array of bands and artists who are superbly talented that are not on anyone’s radar yet. I love telling people that there are likely 10 or more undiscovered artists in the underworld of the music industry that they would love more than their current favorite band if they just searched a bit.
Our biggest challenge as a band has always been getting the attention of music lovers and industry reps alike. Colorado Springs has a growing music scene, but it isn’t even close to the attention that Denver gets, much less a more music centered city like Nashville, Seattle, or New York. So we find ourselves standing out a bit here, but we go back and forth with wondering if it’s better to be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond.
Design and visual concepts come easy to us as a band, and we’ve always been able to brand ourselves well visually. Even a couple years back, I remember overhearing some scene gossip of people saying “Yeah, their stuff looks cool and everyone knows who they are; if only their music backed that up.” Which was a fair assessment back then, but now I think our music has reached a new level, so I’m hoping all of the combined music and visual concepts create the perfect storm for us!
Q: Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you and your music? Who would you still love to work with in the future?
A: We all have very differing tastes for inspiration, but the artists that we seem to all enjoy are Twenty One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, Metric, Broken Bells, and Nine Inch Nails. Some outliers that are really important to at least one of us are Tool, Jack White, the Faint, Type O Negative, Sia, and AWOLNation.
In the future we’d love to work with Danger Mouse, Butch Vig, or possibly Zedd. We have an immense love for artist/producer types who seem to make ripples in every project they touch.
Q: When you aren’t performing or working in the studio, what do you like to do for fun? How do you unwind from it all?
A: When we have down time, Asher and I love to take our kids out to play. We all have been really into Pokemon Go lately, so there’s a lot of that! We also love to check out street art, film festivals, local breweries, and otherwise just veg out in front of a PS4 or re-read the A Song of Ice and Fire books until the next one comes out (currently holding my breath)!
Q: At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
A: We hope our listeners are inspired by our music. Inspired to create or to stand up for themselves, or maybe just to allow themselves to be vulnerable and feel the emotions that resonate within them while listening. We definitely aren’t experts at life, but that’s really all that this creative process is about for us. Just living and sharing experiences with others and having the connection of interaction that we all get to experience during our lifetimes.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
A: We’d just like to thank everyone for taking the time to read, and thank you for taking the time to write about us! Our passion is to create music and share it, and it is an absolute pleasure being along for the ride!