image from http://thetropicofpisces.com/
For some musicians, one act is never enough. The challenge of art to progress by filtrating other genres and styles leads many to form two or three bands even, or conversely, to try soloist maneuvers. Mat Scheiner, a member of neo-pop collectives Oberhofer and Mon Kymer, has prided himself on such inclinations. This year, on his own prerogative, he began his third venture in the music business, a pop-meets-dance music project by the name, Tropic Of Pisces.
The band, which sounds like a ‘70s disco-rock group nuanced with island beats, is based in Brooklyn, and came together spontaneously when Scheiner opted to book a gig with the hypothetical act in mind. After some initial performances and work in the studio, Tropic Of Pisces released a three-track, eponymous EP last week. It’s a groove record, self-described as “bodypop, psychotropics, dance, sail, swim, trop pop, wake up” music. The songs are accentuated with light and harmonized vocals flowing over a current of electronic percussion, and hint at Scheiner’s love for the era that began dance hall infatuation.
Illusionary in theme and rhythm, Tropic Of Pisces creates artistic intrigue around the idea of something unknown, peaceful, and limitless. The cover of the group’s EP was created by a local artist – a friend of Scheiner – who took the musician’s headshot, and interpreted it as a multihued menagerie of tropical fauna. The band’s lyrics depict moving on, symmetry and change, and their alias references a “warm magical place that you must be special enough to have found.” Such mystique offers segue into the band’s work and mind, fostering hopes their secrets may be uncovered if you only listen a little longer.
To date, Tropic Of Pisces has been playing a string of local shows, and hosting preliminary discussions with labels to find a suit for their release. The goal for 2012 is to continue onward with such developments, and Scheiner will also resume work with his concurrent acts. BTR caught up with Scheiner this week for a few questions about his new project. Here are highlights from the interview:
BTR: Tropic of Pisces is an additional project on top of your work with some other bands. What was the impetus behind it?
Scheiner: I don’t write for any of those projects, and I don’t think I’d have any place doing so. I’m of the opinion that if it’s your material, you ought to be captain of the ship, otherwise what’s the point?
BTR: You describe the “Tropic of Pisces” as a warm, magical place – Where might that place be and how does it compare to Brooklyn?
Scheiner: There are way fewer people there. It’s my happy place, sort of like a dream world. The weather is always agreeable, there’s company or solitude when you want it, and obviously you can fly.
BTR: I hear the influences of past decades in your music – how would you describe your sound?
Scheiner: Wishy-washy? Like all Pisces? Unwilling to settle on a particular style, but always willing to get loaded and cut the rug. I grew up on Steely Dan, Michael Jackson, Madonna and random Cuban music, so those vibes will always feel like home to me.
BTR: How do you set yourself apart in an oversaturated market?
Scheiner: Just do what you don’t think is in or cool, but pleases you in a deep, dark place. Then cross your fingers.
BTR: If you were stuck on an island in the Tropic of Pisces, what are the five albums you’d want to have along with you and what drink would be in hand?
Scheiner: Oh I could never narrow it down to just five, but these are five I definitely wouldn’t exclude: Elis & Tom – Antonio Carlos Jobim & Elis Regina; Bad – Michael Jackson; Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles; Fulfillingness’ First Finale – Stevie Wonder; Aja – Steely Dan. I realize it makes me look like I don’t like contemporary music. I really do, I probably just need another decade to feel the same way about it as I do about this stuff. And another piña colada, por favor. 🙂