Trapdoor Social

  • Trapdoor Social
  • 2019-02-19

Environmental activist musical collective Trapdoor Social have a record of fundraising and supporting sustainability, even producing outdoor solar-powered concerts around the USA. The Los Angeles-based independent rock band with a mission have a new single - ‘The Move’ ahead of the release of an album in spring. We caught up wtih Skylar Funk, who provides the vocals and guitar, to find out more.

Let’s call it indie alternative rock with dark, rich sonic twists and a bright, optimistic message.

First up, tell us bit about yourselves - what led you all to forming Trapdoor Social?
I met Merritt in college east of LA in 2008. We were both in the Environmental Analysis program, learning about some serious problems facing our generation, and finding solace in the music that inspired us both to become songwriters. Around the end of 2011 we founded the band with the mission of doing as much as we could with our art to make the world a better place. Namely worried about climate change and promoting solar power power to fight it.

Who did you take inspiration from?
Our influences vary from band member to band member, which makes the creative process very interesting. There’s some nice overlap and as we explore we are very excited to come upon new directions that we all dig. Louie is a real rock dude, loving the Strokes and Cage the Elephant, etc. Merritt likes Britt rock and moody alternative - he just turned me on to Hælos - and I’m all over the place with folk, brass, hip hop, musical theater and everything from my past lives… Writers like Ben Gibbard, John McCrea, Stephan Jenkins, Ben Haggerty… These guys have changed my life.

Why the name ‘Trapdoor Social’?
We were pretty into this idea of an underground meeting of the minds, like maybe a handful of our favorite thinkers and writers, past or present, somehow all hiding out playing cards or talking. That’s where we wanted to be, and perhaps where we hoped the music would take the listener.

How would you describe your musical style?
Let’s call it indie alternative rock with dark, rich sonic twists and a bright, optimistic message.

You’ve been dubbed an ‘environmental activist musical collective’. Do you agree? What does that mean to you?
We have put a lot of work into this over the years… so yeah, I’ll happily take that. However I think we’re excited to be exploring new ways of doing this and, at least for now, leaving the old ways behind. We’ve done fundraisers with our music (like solar for Homeboy Industries, which was finally just installed!), and then Sunstock Solar Festival was a huge part of our lives for the last three years… but it was just too heavy. Too time-consuming and we were still losing money.

So now it’s time to focus on music… If we can send our message and inspire people to leave the place better than they found it, just through our songs… I guess we have our work cut out for us. But in retrospect, it seems this challenge, plus running the festival, was just not likely to work out anytime soon. It was just too heavy.

If you could collaborate with any living artist or band, who would you choose?
I would personally go work with Justin Vernon AKA Bon Iver. Just simply my favorite artist these days, and such a creative producer. Each of his albums has taken hold of me for like, years at a time. I feel like I should go try to be part of that for a moment.

Tell us about your new single ‘The Move’. What’s it about?
The Move came out of a writing session with the boys, starting with a nice guitar riff by Louie. It had this groovy vibe, got me feeling like a badass, and I started singing high notes. Woo baby! A few months later all I have is a voice memo of our progress after the first day recording, and I’m biking around downtown listening and just… dancing! It really made me groove. Ok! This is something new.

The songwriting is this: an invitation to find your movement. There are some amazing organizers out there, making shit happen, making noise in the streets. Some really worthwhile messages to send to the world. I encourage you to find that movement and dig in, and you’ll make a difference. The chorus: “You too can be part of the move[ment]”

Another lyric, in the first verse… A while back we were negotiating with a record label which shall remain unnamed. These guys put out a rotten deal, just hoping we’d screw ourselves by taking it. I remember feeling that excitement turn to disappointing and thinking ‘to hell with this’… We were working on Sunstock and new music and we believed in what we were doing and I figured we would find another way.

At the time of writing this line rolled out: “We don’t need your money, so get off of it / We’ll just keep on running, til we’re all the way”. It was just such an inspiration to do it our own way, and do it better.

When did you write ‘The Move’, and where did you record it?
I wrote the move late 2017, and recorded it with our regular producer, Curt Schneider, of Studio City Studios. For a long time it went by the working title “Tropical” because that was the kinda vibe we got off it in our first writing session. Weeeeee!

How does ‘The Move’ represent your style?
This song is honestly more an exception to our style than a representation. Though, we are looking more and more these days to break out of our own mould, try new things and have fun with the music, which has led in a lot of cool directions. We have dark, cinematic sounds, and folkier vibes, and even some rapping… And in this case, it led us to this groovier, more poppin jam.

What are your hopes for ‘The Move’?
I hope some people dance to this tune while riding their bikes past traffic. That’s when the song made the most sense to me. Haha!

What are your plans for 2019 in terms of further releases and touring?
No tour planned currently. We do plan to keep releasing songs for a while. Collaborating with new people. Keep reinventing our strategy and trusting our instincts. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Watch the video for ‘The Move’ on YouTube below. For news and tour date visit the Trapdoor Social Facebook page.

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