New single ‘The Polaroid’ is out now.
London based electronic duo SilverStreaks have a wonderfully earnest and minimal nature to their music. Endearing and inviting, their music is an amalgam of the creative minds of Robert Ellison and Barbara Donner. For me, the music seems inspired by the city of London in that it feels like solace from the intense hustle of life in the English capital.
Intrigued by the duo’s music, we asked the duo to answer a few questions for us about their new single ‘The Polaroid’, their creative process, and the beauty of ageing.
Overblown: One thing your new song ‘The Polaroid’ is about is heroes. In particular, it is about how heroes can become a disappointment. The older I get, the more and more I realise how dangerous it can be to put anyone on a pedestal. After all, everyone is human and so fallible. What do you think?
SilverStreaks: For me ‘The Polaroid’ is a little more self-reflective. We are the heroes. It’s an observation of becoming older, and the disappointment, when you realise life turns out very differently to how you expected. As kids, we wake up each day, full of hope, await the day, life seems eternal, limitless and full of adventures, dreams and visions of what we will become. As we get older, living becomes an ‘every-day’ and ‘matter-of-fact-thing’, and in the end, we realise that ‘destiny had somewhere else to go’. Big things weren’t necessarily meant for us. We are constantly told the lie, that we need to be special and do big things in order to be ‘worth’ something. Be heroes. Waking up to that lie can be disappointing, but also a very liberating. It’s the process of re-learning, that we can just be who we are, that we’re all fallible and human, and that this is totally good enough.
Overblown: At the moment, there seems to be a real focus on nostalgia in pop culture. It is what Simon Reynolds dubbed ‘Retromania’. For me, this is not necessarily a positive thing. Do you have an opinion about that?
SilverStreaks: I guess we write songs about things that affect us and the people around us. Working through the past is sometimes helpful. To have a look back and see what worked and what didn’t. To observe how we’ve grown, learn from mistakes as well as success. You do that, then you move on. Dwelling in the past obsessively isn’t healthy, but looking back sometimes is ok.
As for ‘Retromania’, I guess it’s a mixed bag. Some people see their past with rose-tinted glasses because your brain forgets the bad things. Current politics, wars, climate change… we live in uncertain times and it naturally makes people uneasy. They want to ‘hide’ in the past, when things were simple, easy, fun and secure for them. Or so they thought. You hear people say ‘everything was better when WE grew up’ all the time for a reason. And every generation will always say it. Hiding in a past, where your brain has softened the pain, is attractive.
Also, fashion has always – among other things – been inspired by the past, so there is that natural connection anyways. We now get to wear the things we’ve worn as teenagers, so obviously, people are reminded, enjoying the feeling of looking back, reminisce, laugh and talk about it. It’s simply fun and gives people something to connect over.
It’s a phase. It goes deeper for some people than others but it will move on to the next thing.
Overblown: The track is also informed by disillusion with ageing. What is the worst thing, for you, about ageing?
SilverStreaks: I’m not so much scared of ageing. I think ageing is a beautiful thing. You don’t have the pressure of ‘achieving’ things so much. You have tried a lot of roads, and they may or may not have worked and that’s ok. Also, you find out who you are, don’t let yourself get pushed around and realise your worth, when to say yes and when to say no. I think it’s a good thing.
Of course there is the aspect of looking back, thinking, ‘wow, I look nice on this picture here’ – that dusty old glamorous polaroid, now an empty shell, a snapshot of the past, because it’s just that – a piece of paper; and there’s a glimpse of it’s ‘finished’. But I don’t focus on that because I can’t change it anyway, so why worry about it. So I try and work with what I got instead of trying to recreate things that are gone. Be confident, be kind, try and glow from the inside. I know it’s a cliché but it works.
The disillusion with ageing is to realise a lot of people talk a lot of nonsense and try and sell it to you as the truth – about the fairy tale life you can have if you only try hard enough. You realise everyone just makes it up as they go along.
Overblown: You have dubbed your creative process the ‘pass it on style’. How does that work? Are there pros and cons?
SilverStreaks: We bounce ideas back and forth – pass loops and sounds to each other so that the other one can take over, move stuff around, add bits or take bits out until sketches turn it into a song.
Pros: It’s exciting to work together and to be inspired by each other’s creativity. Also, if one of us is stuck, the other will have the objectivity to be able to approach from a different angle and change the direction if necessary. We get to have the creativity of two people instead of one – double it up.
Cons: I guess like in all collaborations you have to compromise but to be honest, as we have a very similar taste and a lot of mutual respect for each other’s work, this hasn’t really been an issue very often. Well at least from my side 😉
Overblown: What is your plan for the music you are currently writing?
SilverStreaks: Getting it out there, playing it, hoping people will enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed writing it. Getting involved in film/TV or cinema projects would be awesome too.
Overblown: For me, your music is quite visual and conjures imagery. Do you have any visual accompaniment live?
SilverStreaks: We have our humble selves with our instruments. That’s a sight to behold, I tell you 😉
Overblown: What is the most enjoyable aspect of creating music for you?
SilverStreaks: To have an outlet to talk about things that aren’t right, or are, indeed, beautiful. To tell stories. To write about things that move us and affect us all, and hopefully have people relate to and find joy in it. I tend to write in a very abstract and visual, and not very literal way. So I’m hoping the imagery touches people on a deeper, more emotional, – rather than the cognitive – level, and that everyone finds their own personal interpretation of the story. Make it their own.
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