Inspired by an eclectic array of bands and artists including The Kills and Michael Jackson, Astra The 22s, led by Kerija Kaleja and Eric Jayk, have, in particular since the release of their EP, Paris Love, been impressing both fans and critics alike, on and off stage. Kerija and Eric spoke to ThisIsTheLatest and told us all about artistic influences, their dream show line up and what the future has in store.
TITL: How did the two of you first meet?
Eric: We met in 2011, when Kerija moved to Brooklyn and went on Craigslist to search for a guitar teacher nearby.
TITL: What would each of you say the other brings to the group?
Kerija: Eric brings his whole being into the writing and producing part – I think he is a genius
E: Kerija keeps me from overthinking, while inspiring me with her one of a kind perspective and lyrical/melodic sensibility; she encourages me to stretch beyond the obvious and conventional approach sonically and to use my imagination.
TITL: Can you recall exactly the moment you knew you wanted to make music your careers?
K: I have always wanted to do something that is connected with performing and I was always singing in front of people whether they wanted to hear me or not hah it is just that thing you have in you and it just makes you want to do this..
E: I remember I got MTV as a child and discovered Aerosmith and Guns ‘n’ Roses. I started playing professionally at age 11.
TITL: Which artists and bands most influenced you growing up and have those influences changed much over the years?
K: I grew up in 90’s Latvia and the country was just rehabilitating from the Soviet Union years, so there was not much to choose from or even know about in terms of what was current in the world at the time. I listened to Ace Of Base, Michael Jackson, Louis Armstrong and very eclectic music…
In recent, years I have really loved The White Stripes, Jack White, The Kills, Prince, David Bowie, Blondie, Aerosmith , Guns n Roses , Def Leppard and many more
E: The first four albums I owned were Michael Jackson ‘Thriller,’ Prince ‘Purple Rain,’ GNR ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ and Motley Crue ‘Dr, Feelgood.’ My mom introduced me to The Rolling Stones, and was a big fan of Rod Stewart and Tina Turner. Later, I went to music school where I studied jazz and classical music and discovered The Cure; punk rock. I then rediscovered my love of rock ‘n roll. It’s always been a love/hate relationship with me and rock music.
TITL: Which band or artist would you say you sound the most similar to?
K: Oh it is so hard to say! Actually I am not sure at all; I feel like currently there are not enough female fronted bands to compare us to so I will say Blondie.
TITL: Kerija, how, if at all, have your Latvian background impacted/influenced the music you create now?
K: Music is universal, so if it is good it is good everywhere, I feel like maybe the song messages have something to do with the Latvian background more because sometimes it can get too serious or sad..hah maybe the minor keys hah
TITL: You’ve won a lot of new fans thanks to your single “Stranger”. Is there a story behind it?
E: Stranger is a powerful, empowering and anthemic call to freedom and individuality. If you find the strength and confidence to be yourself, you will overcome the demands of school, society, pressure from your family or lovers. We are all beautiful, remarkable and brilliant, love yourself and don’t let anyone persuade you into thinking that you are not good enough.
TITL: The track is taken from your EP Paris Love. For those who haven’t heard it, how would you sum it up?
E: Eccentric, beautiful, dark.
TITL: Could you each pick your favourite track from the collection and if so, which is it and why?
K: Oh that’s hard but I would say “Stranger” and or the title track, “Paris Love.”
E: “What U Do 2 Me” because it’s autobiographical.
TITL: Who or what most influences your song-writing and how easy or hard do you find the process of putting a song together?
E: Everything is an inspiration, ones’ mood and state of mind, music, art, friends, people’s lives, and one’s own life as well. Each song is different: some come fast and easy some need a lot of love. In reality, melody and lyrics can come in five minutes, but to make the song real and great can sometimes take months.
TITL: In your opinion, what makes a song truly great?
K: A truly great song is not complicated and has a great hook and a great melody.
E: I only like songs I write – just kidding!
TITL: Which venue would you most like to play and which four bands or artists, who can be living or dead, would you most like to share that stage with?
E: Jack White, David Bowie, Def Leppard, AC/DC -with Brian Johnson – at Castle Donington.
TITL: How has/does social media impact your career and do you think you’d have the support you do without it?
E: Social media is a wonderful tool to reach out to people and fans all around the world and to have one’s message out there in matter of seconds, however; sometimes it can get in the way; all we really want to do is make music or perform.
TITL: Finally then, are there any other plans in the pipeline you can tell me about? What does the coming year have in store for you?
E: We’re going to continue writing new music, play more shows and take over the world.