With the music industry changing so rapidly, musicians have to do something innovative to stand out. Local duo Brandi Sidoryk and Krista Wodelet of Sidney York are doing just that with their unique blend of electronic and orchestral music.
Their latest record <3s (pronounced ‘hearts’) consists of five mini EPs each consisting of two songs. Instead of being released in stores, fans can subscribe to digital copies or mail-order vinyls that will be delivered every two months. Along with the music, the band includes promotional art, videos and posters with each EP release.
“Releasing a whole album doesn’t make sense anymore, so we decided to try something different,” says Krista Wodelet, bassoonist and singer for Sidney York. “[Monthly releases are] a unique way of releasing music that people aren’t used to. At first they look at [it] and go ‘what on earth is this?’ then we explain it’s like a magazine subscription, and people have gotten really excited about the extra stuff that’s involved.”
Each volume of the EP comes with two posters designed by local artist Ben Rankel, which are inspired by each of the songs. When the full album is released, the story lines of each print will create a graphic novel.
According to Wodelet, the album and its title represent Sidney York’s style and experiences at the time of writing.
“It just so happened that while Brandi and I were both writing the album, we were going through rough break ups, so that’s where the title <3s came from,” Wodelet says. “We used the emoticon because the record is a shift toward more electronic music and we really like the conflict of something as organic as a heart mashed-up with something electronic.”
Although there’s a split in musical styles between the first two volumes of <3s — volume one has an electro-pop sound while the second has a deep acoustic influence — Wodelet says that once the other volumes are released the musical styles won’t seem disjointed.
“Once the other three volumes come out, people will really be able to see how the songs are connected,” she says. “We put out the most synthetic songs, then the most acoustic back to back, and now we’ll fill out the spectrum in the middle.”
Contrast is a recurring theme in <3s as the songs often have a happy and upbeat tone with rather morbid lyrics. This contradiction is intentional, Wodelet says, noting that it’s something that she and Sidoryk like to do as songwriters.
“Even when we’re writing about some pretty dark stuff we like to put a kind of quirky, tongue-in-cheek musical spin on it. We call it this sort of ‘dark twisted content wrapped in a candy coated shell,’” Wodelet says. “If you’re not listening carefully, some of the songs actually do sound pretty happy, but some of them can get quite dark lyrically.”
In addition to the blend of cheery overtones and morbid lyrics, <3s contains a fusion of classical and electro-pop music. This comes from the pair’s classical music training — Wodelet has a master’s degree in orchestral bassoon and Sidoyrk a master’s in opera — and their love of independent music.
Wodelet says <3s is the first album that she and Sidoryk co-wrote, resulting in the blended sound.
“When we started writing together I pulled her [towards synth-pop] and she really loved it and she’d pulled me back when it got a little too electronic,” says Wodelet. “I think [<3s] is a nice balance of our two influences, and it represents a pretty logical progression for the band.”