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Live from New York... its Strawberry Launch

How did the band come together?

SL:  We started the band in 2018.  Riiza (lead singer) was looking for bandmates and a friend introduced her to Mat (guitarist) and the rest of the band came from Mat.  


Was your sound created with a specific genre in mind or from bouncing various ideas off of each other? 

SL:  Riiza brought us the first songs which leaned more towards the pop rock sides of things.  Over time we incorporated different indie, psychedelic sounds as well. 


What is your song writing process like? 

SL:  It’s really changed.  It used to be Riiza would bring a song in with a melody and the rest of the band would build on it.  Now, it is whoever has something they want to try out.  We usually work off of guitar chords.  Typically, we write it as a unit rather than just a melody and then everyone figures out their parts.  We build it as a whole team which is fun.  


Does someone take the lead on certain songs? 

SL:  It’s different every time.  Sometimes we’ll be like, “someone hasn’t had a bass intro in a while so maybe we should add that in.” A lot of times we work off the guitar line and match the bass to the guitar and Benjy (drums) is last.  He always does a great job of spicing it up. 


Are the lyrics drawn from personal experiences or more esoteric concepts? 

SL:  It depends.  Some of our songs are very personal to Riiza’s life.  The song Different Tomorrow is about a night she had in Mercury Lounge.  The Sun which is the first single we ever did was based off of a missing person’s case.


That’s kinda like Nirvana’s Polly, which was based off of an abduction case. 

SL:  Yeah, people really like The Sun which makes us really glad. On Sweet Basil we were all just having fun and wrote in one night over winter break. Mat had this killer guitar line foundation and she sent it to Abby and Riiza and their additions made it even better.  


I really like the part when the lyrics and guitar line match up with the same melody, really smooth and tight. Who came up with that? 

SL:  Abby, our bass player, suggested matching the guitar line to the words.  


What is the recording process like? 

SL:  Usually, we all record together and then we’ll add extraneous stuff afterwards.  For Sweet Basil we added the synths in after our initial tracking process.  We like to work together because  it comes out better.  We have an engineer in Jersey that we usually go to where we  do the whole thing together.  It is way more fun as a team and it is a lot harder to get the right levels if we do it individually.  We have been together long enough that even though we add extra stuff afterwards, it matches up really well because we know our sound really well now compared to when we started.  


How did your sound change? 

SL:  We had a different band name when there were only three or four of us before we became Strawberry Launch.  Riiza did research on bands she liked and learned what makes a band really work. The first year we were together we only did live shows.  We wanted to get used to working together as a unit.  Back in 2019 you could do gigs all the time - we have a bunch of songs that we haven’t recorded yet.  Those songs  are going to  sound differently recorded rather than live which is something we are excited about.  Our unreleased songs have progressively gotten more and more psychedelically influenced.  Especially songs like Crystallized which isn’t released yet, but just out of the gate trippy shit. 


Is that achieved by adding more synths or different guitar pedals? 

SL:  When Taylor joined the band as our keyboardist, she definitely added a psych element.  The effects we use on the guitars with pedals definitely make it more unusual.  The synths are what is really helping it get pushed into that genre. 


Was adding a synth player always something you guys wanted or did it happen as you started to play more? 

SL:  Riiza played a little keys, but once we added Taylor into the mix the sound just got really cool.  She brings a spacey feel that really elevated the sound.  Taylor is a year younger than everyone, but she and Mat went to the same music high school in Chicago.  She’s getting into sound design and making original patches on the keyboard to make the sounds unique. 


You also have a music video coming out for Sweet Basil, is that the first music video you’ve done? 

SL:  Yeah, we are mad lucky and Benjy is our film/videographer.  He wrote up the concept and directed the whole thing.  It was so awesome to be able to do it as a unit.  We had one guy come and help Benjy out, but we didn’t have a lot of outside people involved which was really cool. 


What was it like to add a visual medium to your music? 

SL:  The music video is just us being ourselves and it translates pretty well.  It is an accurate reflection of the band and our music.  We usually have really fun live shows, which is why we never put visuals out for the last couple of releases.  We are usually decked out in body glitter and Benjy is wearing the Strawberry mascot costume.  Since we obviously can’t do live shows, adding a visual element for the fans we’ve gained over the last few months who can’t attend our live performances is really important.  When we decided to do a video it really captures  what a fun and easy going band we are.  The video is a good introduction to who we are as a group.  


Do you guys have a favorite concert memory? 

Abby: My personal favorite was the Valentine’s Day show.  It was the biggest crowd we’ve played in front of probably 80-100 people.  We had a huge party afterwards and everyone from the show was really fun.  We played at the Bitter End and filled the whole place. 

Riiza: Mine was definitely Mercury Lounge because I’ve seen a lot of artists that I love play there.  When we were asked to play there the gig went so well, I was like, “we’ve made it!”!  

Taylor:  Yeah, I agree with Abby. My favorite was also Valentine’s Day just because there were so many people there and the party was really fun afterwards.  


So it seems that quarantine has made you pivot a little bit as a band and prioritize different things. 

SL:  Yeah, I think it definitely did change how we do things.  We focused so much on live shows and songwriting, we were actually planning a little tour for the summer.  Over quarantine we really started educating ourselves about how to reach out more through social media and get new fans outside of New York.  We have a wonderful social media manager who helps us so much and we felt it was important to expand.


Was being in New York more like a bubble? 

SL:  Well, we're going to play in Nashville, Connecticut, Chicago and maybe DC.  Since we’ve gained a lot of fans in South America, we would love to explore the idea of playing some shows down there as well.  Our type of music is very rooted in New York City itself, but the sky's the limit.  There is so much crossover in genres and everyone is looking for something new to listen to so I don’t think our location holds us back anymore. 

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