Artist Spotlight: Corey Stroffolino, Everything's Real
Welcome to the first lighting of Bonfire, Stray Together's Arts and Adventure journal. In this series we'll be talking with various creatives and adventure junkies and letting them share their stories.
In this first episode, we bring you the "brooding, bass heavy" sounds of Rhode Island based musician, Corey Stroffolino. Corey plays guitar for American Rock band, La Dispute, and also performs as a solo musician under the stage moniker, Yoon Yung. In this interview we focused on his music as Yoon Yung and the creation of his first EP, Everything's Real.
When did you start playing music?
I started playing guitar when I was 13 I believe. Immediately gave up and put the guitar in the closet for almost a year. Then started again and really stuck with it. When I was a freshman in high school I somehow convinced a few friends that were the grade above me to let me play guitar in their already-great-without-me band, even though at that point I was horrible. We played for way too long at the battle of the bands that year and won for some reason. ha.
What would you say your music is about?
Well I used to write a lot about disillusionment with relationships and American-ized Christianity. Specifically with my old band called The Attending. Then in 2015 we put out a record that was heavily influenced by the death of my best friend. I'd say that on this particular solo EP, the music is loosely about my relationship with time at the moment. Maybe it's more about gaining perspective on time? I have this nagging sense of getting older and time running out on what i'm able to create musically, even though I know for a fact that it's all relative. It's a just a thing I have been feeling very strongly about the past year or two. I'm sure to a fault. That's putting it very broadly. Although, the focus on this EP was to be less hyper specific on purpose. Kind of zoom the lens out a bit and concentrate on vibe and themes rather than a detailed narrative. All of the themes creep back though. Heavy Ghost in particular has some of the religious stuff in it. Shake My Bones is definitely about time and the feeling that despite my best efforts things fall short. It comes from a sort of over-confidant voice. Like "I'm going to take control of this year". However, I'm not in control of everything and thats ok. I guess when I think about it all of my music is in some way about disillusionment and hopefully in some small way about hope and forgiveness.
Do you have any memorable songs you've written?
On this EP my favorite song is probably Heavy Ghost. It just incorporates all the things I am aiming for in a way that i'm really happy with. Both lyrically and musically. I love the whole brooding bass-heavy, vibe of the song. It's the track that probably incorporates electronic elements in a way that I think are the most fluid as well. The electronic percussion part was programmed by the drummer who recorded on the project, Nate Moore. The decision to have him also play real drums over the the whole song was very last minute. I think he executed it beautifully.
Also, there is a wild, distorted bass solo in the bridge. It might be my favorite moment on the EP. I wrote the first half of it as a sort-of joke. Then told Taylor Pelton, my bassist, to just finish strong on the second half. He really took it up and over the edge and delivered the insane run at the end that makes the song for me. My favorite stuff was written by other people on this one so it's probably my favorite due to the collaboration that went into it. Although not on this EP I think a song that is very personally important to me would be the song You've Known it All Your Life. It is off of the full length record my old band The Attending put out. You can find that one on spotify and things like that. It deals very directly with my feelings in the wake of my friend passing. It's also the first time I ever used a sample in a song I've written. I feel like a direct line can be traced from that song, which was created in the vessel of a full on rock, punk, grunge, emo etc. band, to the music I make now which is more groove centric and continues to bring in more electronic elements and marry them with the organic aspects of playing with real people.
What was the process like creating the EP? (What's the name of the EP?)
The EP is called the Everything's Real EP named after the last track. Creating it was a long long process. This whole thing was going to originally be a bedroom recording project. We had played one show in the spring of 2016, when there were only some demos of the music. It was supposed to be a one off show and art gallery opening for my wife Charity (who did the artwork for the EP), and a close friend, Barrett Kern. It was in the venue space of Machines With Magnets, a recording studio, music venue, art gallery and bar all rolled into one. The perfect place. One of the main engineers, Seth Manchester, was running live sound that night and after we soundchecked he casually suggested we record a record there. After realizing he wasn't joking, I decided to record the EP there and to have a little more collaboration between Nate, Taylor and I. Seth was very into the live band feel of the sound and encouraged me to incorporate that more prominantly, when my original thought was to have most instruments be electronic. Seth and this beautiful studio are the main reasons it sounds so good and organic. It was a dream recording there!
How did your music background influence the music you make today?
My music background has primarily been rooted in punk rock. More so than stylistically, it's an attitude thing. There is a Do-It-Yourself spirit that was instilled in me from the moment I started playing music that I think is the single biggest reason I am at all where I'm at. Years and years just hitting the road and crashing on peoples floors and not really making any money what so ever, got me used to the idea that you can't just wait to pursue your dreams. It's not going to land in your lap. If I didn't start touring when I was 19, I would not have joined any of the bands that I have been able to travel the world with and meet people through. All which have led to bigger opportunities. I wouldn't be playing guitar in La Dispute, if I hadn't toured with them playing bass in a band called Defeater. The line traces back over a decade through various groups I've been lucky enough to be a part of. All of which inform my ability to make this music.
All right Corey, a speed round before you leave:
If you could create music with anyone, who would it be?
Probably Donald Glover. I'd create anything with him. Music, comedy, food. Anything, he is just insanely creative.
What have you been listening to lately?
A lot of great music got released recently! I'd say top five things I've been listening to right now are new records from:
Open Mike Eagle
and St. Vincent
What have you been watching lately?
Atlanta just hit hulu so Charity and I watched all of that. We also finished The Leftovers a little bit ago. I think that is the best drama I can ever remember watching.
What food(s) have you been enjoying lately?
Taco's always. Korean food always. And pasta always. I am a food fanatic. It's a problem. A good problem.
Where can people see more of Yoon Yung?
We are looking to play out as much as possible, so very soon is the plan.
What is next for you?
After this release comes out I want to do a few other unique releases. I have a few acoustic leaning songs that I want to release as split singles. One side being the acoustic track, the other being 4-6 minutes of my standup comedy. I also have a more electronic leaning project I have been collaborating on with my brother, who is a great producer. Be on the look out for all sorts of weird stuff! Then it's just gigging as much as possible, both as a musician and a stand-up comic.
Corey tells us that Everything's Real will be released soon. You can listen to Heavy Ghost, a track from Everything's Real ,below.
( This link has been removed and will be updated soon)
A list of Corey's upcoming comedy shows here.
Make sure to tune in next week for the next edition of Bonfire!
- Stay warm
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