It might seem like ASTR came out of nowhere, but that isn't the case. Lead singer Zoe ASTR comes frop hip-hop royalty, although she won't tell you that herself. Her father, Tom Silverman, is the founder and CEO of Tommy Boy Records. Beats maestro Adam ASTR has been the man behind the curtain for a number of major projects in film and music. Their Varsity EP, released earlier this week, has captured imaginations by blending singer Zoe's R&B-style hooks over classily constructed beats that are as spacey as they are grooving. Their sound flits from atmospheric to poppy and is as catchy as it is progressive. Equal parts Rihanna and Purity Ring, they occupy a space between pop, hip-hop and indie-electronic that renders them a truly exciting proposition. We managed to have a few words with them several days after the release. First things first, check out the lead single from the EP, "Operate".
Your music is an interesting confluence of progressive, electronic and pop elements. Was this a conscious thing or....?
Zoe: After working together for a while, we carved away and got back to our roots of what we love in music. It's a combination of R&B, hip-hop and house music.
Adam: It's not intentional. We like what we like, we have a bunch of similarities in taste, and it just works out.
How do you guys put your tracks together?
Adam: Some people like to do tracks. We do that sometimes, but typically the production is an afterthought to the song. If I give Zoe the craziest track in the world, it might be so busy that she wouldn't know where to begin.
Zoe: Absolutely! It's better to leave space to build on - potential. We've both evolved. Adam helps me with melodies and lyrics. I don't necessarily fuckin' go full-on with the production, but if I hear something in a song that I like, that's the kind of direction I'll give.
Zoe, tell us about growing up around the Tommy Boy family.
Zoe: There was never a dull moment! I've seen some pretty epic after-parties. The framed record of "OPP" was on my grandmother's wall. I don't think I can do anything so weird that my grandparents would disapprove of it because my dad had already done it all. There was a lot of crazy shit that I wasn't supposed to see at a young age. I'm a spaz! I'm definitely a product of all that. It got me into hip-hop when I was young. My dad DJ'ed at my 5th grade dance. I was embarrassed during my whole childhood, basically. It was super embarrassing. I just wanted normal parents.
Your EP came out a couple days ago and the reaction has been great. Have you noticed any changes in your life since then?
Zoe: There's a suspicious amount of reaching out from old friends from high school and summer camp.
Adam: Yeah, which is both cool and kinda creepy. It's like, "Yeah, I missed you too, buddy. I just don't know if i'm ready to hang out yet."
Versus! I'm gonna pit artists against each other. You gotta tell me who wins. First: Drake vs. Diplo
Both: Drake (in unison). We're huge Drake fans. We have a cover of one of his songs.
Purity Ring vs. Rihanna
Both: Rihanna (in unison).
You guys have definitely taken pop and hip-hop over electronic.
Zoe: You just named two artists that we fuckin' love…if it was a different one, maybe.
Okay fine, what about Purity Ring vs. Aaliyah?
Flosstradamus vs. Lady Gaga
Adam: Here's the thing: we're gonna opt for the act with the better songs.
It's 4 a.m. in New York. Are you more likely to get a bagel or pizza?
Some New Yorkers you are! I thought you all loved bagels!
Adam: Not at four in the morning, though. That's when they're making the new ones...for when we're hungover the next day.
Coachella or EDC?
Check out another of our favorites, "R U With Me." They take a John Hughes-y '80s vibe and rev it up with modern production and slick vocals. We're definitely fans.