New American Hustle
Please introduce your band
We are a virtual band from all over the world: California, Tennessee, Italy and Serbia. There are four constant contributors. Our style can be described as electronic, lo-fi, indie pop, alternative rock or chill vibes.
Tell us about your lineup
Ian Smith - I create the loops and produce the music, Cloudy - she is our vocalist and creative director, with Nate Bridges and Alessandro Salza who play various instruments and are our sound engineers that handle a lot of the post-production work. I played in various bands through the 90's and early 2000s but took a long break to pursue my career as a graphic designer. Cloudy is an Instagram Influencer and muse, her style and creativity is the driving force behind the band. Nate's main project is his dub band, Black Market, and Alessandro is in the Italy rock band Malbianco.
How did the band meet?
I started making music again after several years, to pass the time during the COVID lockdowns. I connected with Alessandro through Airgigs and we made a lot of great music. After exploring these initial types of sounds, I then connected with Nate who's Black Market project really inspired me to incorporate my love of dub and reggae. More recently Cloudy and I connected through Instagram as we share a love of music, art and fashion.
What's the story behind your band name?
The band is named after the David O. Russell film, American Hustle, staring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner & Jennifer Lawrence.
Tell us about your influences!
I love bands like Blur, Gorillaz, Goldfrapp, St. Vincent, Portishead, Radiohead, Tame Impala, Pond, David Bowie and Talking Heads. I grew up in the 80's and 90's so many of those influences help inform our sound. Cloudy likes chill and lo-fi music, Nate is the dub/reggae master and Alessandro has a very broad taste in music as well.
Could you describe your approach to songwriting?
I start with pre-recorded loops and build up and take away layers using Logic Pro X. Then Nate and Alessandro add live instruments. Vocals are handled by a rotating cast of mostly female vocalists, however, we do feature male vocals on many tracks. Cloudy adds her voice later in the process and acts like a sonic curator.
Describe your band's first big break
No gigs so far. This COVID pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works! Since we are a virtual band, we've actually never met in person either. Perhaps we'll look into livestream performances in the future. I feel once it's safe for live music again, we will find a way to come together and put something out there for our growing fanbase.
Tell us about some of your most memorable gigs - both good and bad!
We haven't played live together yet. I know Alessandro's band Malbianco has played some livestream shows in the past year and Nate has a great YouTube channel where he does live mixing for his Black Market project. Cloudy and I are also looking into making some live videos for fans and post on our Instagram and YouTube in the near future.
What advice do you have to those who want to start a band?
Well, it's hard right now because of COVID, but hopefully, you make music because of your passion for it, and not because you want wealth and fame. Just make music regardless - and if you're meant to be rich and famous, then it may happen for you. New American Hustle has had a slow and steady climb and our fanbase is growing daily. Hopefully, we can at least make enough money to be self-sustaining. That would be fabulous. Right now it's a losing endeavour financially as, without the support of a record label, most bands sadly fall by the wayside. I'll make music until the day I die, so hopefully, I can keep independently releasing songs for a long time to come.
What are some of the challenges you face being in a band?
Like we just mentioned, finances are a constant struggle. It costs money to produce albums, so perhaps we'll scale it back to releasing more singles. Just finding the time to coordinate our schedules can be a challenge too, since we are all in different parts of the world. One of us is working while the other is sleeping! We take shifts!
What does it take to be successful as a band?
Passion and love for music. Being creative is not easy, and finding the time and money to bring it together and put it on the internet is what you have to do these days. The challenge is there are millions of other people doing the same thing. It's hard to get recognized without going viral, getting a song on Netflix or TikTok. It's a challenge to just go out and play music in public these days too. Artists need support from fans now more than ever.
How important is music theory?
I understand enough music theory to be dangerous! Luckily for me, Nate and Alessandro are literally master engineers and have high-level degrees in music. They can edit and refine some of my crude ideas and make them fit into the proper context. Cloudy also helps with song structure and what the overall textures should be. Though knowing a little about music theory does help me communicate better with Nate and Alessandro
Tell us about the releases you've put out to date
We have three official albums released to all streaming platforms. They are: Butcher's Daughter, Blindfold Sights and the most recent Way Out Robot. Alessandro is in the process of mixing our new EP called Blank House. We are also planning a compilation of unreleased material in the summer, titled San Mateo-Hayward Bridge. I have many archived tracks that will probably be released as singles each month or more EPs. We could actually do a vault boxset with all the extra songs. However, I don't think it's wise to release songs that aren't top-notch. For every good track we release, there might be 3 or 4 not-so-good ones. Music is subjective, so I'm not sure if all the unreleased material will ever see the light of day. I like to think our next songs will be our best songs.
What has been your band's biggest achievement?
Just having a presence online is a big achievement. Our Instagram is bringing in many new fans thanks to Cloudy, we have a solid presence on Spotify, YouTube and Bandcamp and all our music is available to stream on the big retail services. I never thought we'd get this far - I've come a long way from 4-track acoustic guitar bedroom demos!
How do you view the current state of the music industry?
The music industry is only around to make money. They don't really care if your music is good. All they care about is how much money it will make them. Fortunately, many legacy bands are still going strong and some really good up-and-coming artists are out there to discover. Most "pop" music I hear nowadays seems like one big television commercial. I'm not sure if it's really music anymore? It's a product. It sounds like algorithms and generic chords with the same person singing every song. It makes me sick.
What are you working on right now?
I'm working hard to refine the tracks for the Blank House EP so Alessandro can finish his final mix and master. Cloudy and I are developing our brand on Instagram and Nate is working with new artists for his Black Market project. My hope is we can all come together in the late summer or early fall and focus on brand new music.
What is your focus for the year ahead?
I want to build our fanbase and generate momentum for more new music. We will keep releasing material through the summer and see where we're at then. I'm excited to be working closely with Cloudy and marketing our brand. She is very talented and we have already had some nice success with getting more exposure and new listeners.
Thank you so much for dropping by the WeJam studio! Where can we follow your progress?