Interview With Denver Band Eldren

Interview With Denver Band Eldren

Hooray! I was able to do another socially distanced interview with Denver band Eldren last week. Band leaders Nasir Malik and Tyler Imbrogno jumped on the phone with me to talk about their new single, “Fell In,” their video series of cover songs, and how COVID is going in general. Not that anyone is having their best life right now, but I love how this band is jumping past technical challenges to put out music that not only makes us all happy, but is supporting people of color.


Interview With Eldren


Aimee:

I feel lucky that I have known you guys as friends and as a band for a long time but for those who don’t know, how would you describe Eldren?

Nasir:

I would describe Eldren as a group of people that convene semi-regularly to create music and musical experiences for their fans.

Aimee:

I feel like there’s been a long and winding path for the band. You’re five members now, but I remember seeing you live and there was like a bazillion people on stage. Is that intentional or is it just… How’s that gone?

Nasir:

I think it’s just been a part of the process of growing and kind of focusing our sound and our music and our social circles kind of honed in a little, I wouldn’t say closed, but maybe gotten a bit more focused. When we were younger musicians and in the scene, I think we were more outgoing and nowadays we tend to kind of confine ourselves to, especially since the pandemic started, obviously, but even before that, I think we’ve confined ourselves to more focused recording and writing and getting better at recording ourselves and not relying on other people as much.

Tyler:

I think that’s part of it. In terms of the amount of members or people on stage or people recording, I feel like it has always been collaborative, but at the heart of it, it’s really Nasir and I writing songs both individually and together. I think we experimented with different instruments in having other people play with us, especially in the live setting early on. I’d say we continue to do the same thing. We do have other musicians record with us, too.

Nasir:

That’s true. Yeah. There’s a whole cast of Denver people in there.

Tyler:

To me, I feel like it’s still a part of it and I still work with a lot of other musicians outside of Eldren producing their music and so I still very much feel integrated with the community outside of our band. But, yeah, I think what may have evolved is having a more concise and precise stage show with the amount of people and in terms of having more of a core performers.

Aimee:

It’s just one of those things where I feel like that you guys are really open to change and I imagine that would continue, but for me, whenever I hear there’s a new Eldren song coming out, I never know what to expect. And I think that’s a good thing. I mean that as a compliment.

Tyler:

Totally. I think we take it that way as well. I would just say, I think what may have changed was a lot of guest members onstage with us, which leads to unpredictable things in good and bad ways. And of course, right now, live shows haven’t really been an option for us. We’ve kind of turned down a couple of the newer opportunities to play under these COVID circumstances, just because we don’t know if we’re ready to be responsible for gatherings or anything.

Interview With Eldren - Denver Local Music Scene

Aimee:

And then you have your new song “Fell In” come out about two weeks ago. Can you talk about about how that came together?

Nasir:

Yeah. I started writing “Fell In” in my personal home studio, I don’t know, a year ago maybe, just right around a year ago. And I started with a drum loop and some like organ and synthesizer and just wrote the lyrics and developed it a little bit more and then brought it to Tyler. And then we started fleshing it out a little bit more. And at a certain point I feel like we were pretty much done with it. And then we made the decision to add real drums to it. And then after adding real drums to it, it spiraled out of control and we basically replaced everything I originally recorded with all real instruments.

Tyler:

It started as a simple song and it was basically Nasir’s verses and very simple synthy kind of electro feel. And we started fleshing out the format and the new parts and it just grew and grew and became a bigger thing with a lot of elements. Obviously the full band playing on it. And trying to get to a point maybe to a point where it was almost too much to contain. We tried to get the perfect balance of being epic, but not chaotic.

Nasir:

The song is a maybe an analogy for Eldren itself.

Interview With Eldren - Denver Local Music Scene

Aimee:

That sounds about right! I also saw that you were donating a portion of the streams to social justice causes. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Tyler:

Yeah. We want to be vocal about things we believe, and as we all have a platform to do that, musicians and everybody, I think it can be hard to put that out there. I don’t see us as a political band specifically, but we decided that we wanted to stand up.

Nasir:

We think helping people that who are unable to afford counsel or proper defense and especially in this case, people of color, was an important thing for us to do.

Aimee:

I am sure that means a lot more to you given Josh (Lee, an Eldren band member)’s situation in the past?

Tyler:

Yeah, we do have a personal connection with how maybe unfair or difficult it can be with what Josh was facing – what I would consider unreasonable and unlawful detention because he wasn’t a citizen.

Aimee:

It was terrible. So, thanks for doing that. OK, on to a happier question – I love the Separation Sessions and which is a video series where you’ve been doing covers of songs. How did you pick the covers that you did?

Nasir:

Had a big dart board?

Aimee:

Really?!?

Nasir:

Yeah. We had a big dart board and we kind of wrote down our options and we would just throw darts at it. But that came later. Originally, we just had a couple of songs that we really wanted to do. We got started with an Elliot Smith song and then Bill Withers passed away and we decided to honor him with “Ain’t No Sunshine.”

Tyler:

Yeah. But essentially I think our choices were both informed by partially just what songs we like, what sounds we’ve always wanted to cover, what songs would be a challenge or how can we present this song in a different way. As well as with a couple of them, which ones felt appropriate for it for current events in the world. I think it was a combination. Some was just fun. Some was curious and some was…

Nasir:

Some were. Please don’t quote Tyler speaking like that.

Tyler:

Some of the decision was.

Nasir:

Oh, okay.

Tyler:

Whatever, it doesn’t matter. She’ll fix my grammar.

Aimee:

Ha! So, you recorded it separately, obviously, by the name “Separation Sessions.” How did you accomplish that?

Nasir:

It was, it was a pretty big exercise in learning how… It definitely forced me to get better at recording myself in my own home studio. And then also Josh for violin. He got an interface and a computer that could record and he learned a lot as well. A lot of it was kind of new territory for us because for the longest time it’s been, if we want to record something, we go to Tyler’s studio, which is where we do the meat of all of our recording for Eldren. We do it at Daymoon Studios, Tyler’s home studio. This is a learning period for all of us to be able to record ourselves and send that in. Then later on, as kind of restrictions were lifted a little bit and we felt a little bit more comfortable…

Tyler:

But really only around each other. Nasir and I started working together in person after some restrictions were lifted. Everything in “Fell In” song was done to some degree across multiple places that had to be transferred over the internet. So we had the ability to drop files, videos, share it, just using the internet for what you can do with it. So, trying to use the internet for good, instead of a lot of the negativity that sometimes gets associated.

Aimee:

What a cool thing to… What an exercise of technical skills to figure that out. I know I’ve been lucky to be working from home for almost 10 years, but at the same time, even now I’m still figuring out new things that I can do these past months.

Nasir:

Yeah. It’s a crazy time. I know a lot of friends of mine who are out of work that work in a service industry and it’s just a scary time to be figuring out how make a living or how to continue creative work. It’s pretty difficult right now. And I think more than anything, we wanted the Separation Sessions to exist as something that people could look forward to biweekly.

Tyler:

You mean every two weeks? It was twice weekly.

Nasir:

Twice weekly, whatever the word for that is.

Aimee:

You can tell that you guys have been in a band together for a long time.

Nasir:

Yeah. We don’t talk to each other like people who would be worried about offending each other.

Tyler:

On that note, I also wanted to say in naming the “Separation Sessions,” it not only implies our separation from each other, but also being able to bridge the gap of separation from what would be our live audience or be able to do something like that and stay connected in a little bit of a different way. I think that was part of our goal with the entire thing. That was also just a good way to have some fun with other people’s music and learn a lot in the process.

Nasir:

Yeah. For years, we’ve talked about the prospect of doing a cover series or a cover album, and we will be moving forward and releasing Separation Sessions on a streaming platforms as well.

Aimee:

That’s good! And along those same lines, we have such a great music scene. Do you have any suggestions on how a fan in Denver or anywhere else can be supporting musicians better right now?

Nasir:

Tuning into their live streams and donating to them via PayPal or Venmo. I think a lot of artists are doing that right now.

Tyler:

Yeah. This also obvious, but buy band merch. A big majority of the money we make is from live music. Also, we’re going to be starting a Patreon type thing account to get involved with our close fans. So, I would say, if you want to support local music, those are definitely the ways.

Interview With Eldren - Denver Local Music Scene

Aimee:

Right. So here’s a fun question. What are your COVID guilty pleasures?

Nasir:

I got really into the Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Aimee:

That’s a good one.

Nasir:

But I think also a bunch of us have been trying to be more healthy and exercising a little bit more. I know Josh got a gym membership and it’s like kick box training and I’ve been exercising for the first time in a long time. I took the pandemic as an opportunity to cut back on the bad habits. I stopped smoking. That was a guilty pleasure that I gave up.

Aimee:

Good job!

Tyler:

My guilty pleasure is getting rid of all my bad habits. Ha. No seriously, my guilty pleasure is looking at and probably buying too many guitar effect pedals.

Aimee:

Yeah. Unfortunately Instagram has figured me out and puts the exact right ads in my face at 11pm.

Nasir:

Oh yeah. Yes. I think, I feel like that’s happened for everybody where everybody’s done panic shopping or boredom shopping and all the algorithms have really honed in on the thing we like to look at.

Tyler:

And there haven’t been any huge bar tabs.

Nasir:

I definitely, I’ve saved a lot more money than I’ve saved in a long time throughout all of this.

Aimee:

I was pretty shocked when I realized how much I used to spend in bars every week.

Nasir:

Yeah. And also the benefit of the quarantine was a lot of people who were just going out to bars and drinking every night had to sober up or just start binge drinking alone, which is… That’s when you have to really face your inner demons. Maybe we shouldn’t talk about this.

Aimee:

OK, topic change! Who would you love if you could pick a band that you haven’t – I know you played with some pretty cool people – but somebody who haven’t played with yet?

Nasir:

Tenacious D.

Tyler:

Yeah.

Nasir:

I mean, obviously I’m going to name the greatest and best band in the world.

Aimee:

Well, the point is that you actualize it, let’s say it, and let’s put it out there in the world and then hopefully it’ll happen someday.

Nasir:

Yeah. Jack Black, if you’re out there and for some reason you’re listening to this, we’re here for you, man. We love you. We’ll do whatever you want, man. We’ll be there in a heartbeat. We’ll give up our whole lives.

Aimee:

Yeah. Nasir will even start smoking again.

Nasir:

If he asked me to.

Aimee:

Kidding! So, what’s next for Eldren?

Tyler:

We’re going to be releasing another single on the video soon. We’re kind of figuring out how we want to do that. Obviously just on the internet, but I don’t even think we can do an album release show. It’s not really something we want to do in COVID times.

Nasir:

Yeah. We were approached by a bunch of talent buyers in Colorado and the Denver area to play a show in Denver around right now. And we’ve basically told everybody we’re going to wait and see. Our biggest concern is we don’t want to make people feel like they’re obligated to risk their own safety and health in order to support our band. I don’t like having that decision being on my shoulders, but it’s a big decision we have to make. So if there’s a way for people to support us, just subscribe to our YouTube page, click the little bell icon, turn notifications on, stream our music on Spotify, buy our albums on iTunes and go to our soon to be redesigned website and buy our merch.

Aimee:

Sounds good.


Connect with Eldren on their site, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

Interview With Eldren - Denver Local Music Scene

Also check out my other interviews and posts about the local Denver music scene.

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