We asked Christopher Chu of On SoundCloud Premier Partner POP ETC, an indie rock band based out of Brooklyn, a few questions about their evolving sound and fans who keep them motivated to continue creating music.
Photo by Nina Westervelt
Please introduce yourself to the SoundCloud community.
The name of our band is POP ETC, and it consists of me, my brother Jon, and our drummer Julian. We’ve been living in New York for a few years now, but all of us were raised in California (although I was born in Japan). I’m not really sure what kind of music we make… we’ve been making music for almost 10 years now, and we’ve changed quite a bit over the years. We are the kind of band that always likes to keep moving, and we don’t like to repeat ourselves. Or maybe I should say, we get bored and can’t write songs if we don’t continue trying new things all the time, so we have no choice but to keep changing.
How do you use SoundCloud?
I think the most important part is just making music that you believe in before you even think about putting it up on the internet anywhere. Our audience on SoundCloud has grown very organically, just from posting our songs, and we feel really happy to have them. We do check our stats and comments, as we like to see who the most dedicated fans are, so we can follow them back or message them to tell them how much we appreciate their support- I think that’s really important. There is also a lot of great music on SoundCloud that isn’t available anywhere else. I pretty frequently find cool demos and strange versions of songs that I don’t think I would have ever heard otherwise.
Describe your creative process. What is your set up like?
Pretty much everything we work on starts and ends at home. I have a small Pro Tools setup there–a BAE 1073 pre (Neve imitation), a couple mics, a Juno 106, OP-1, Telecaster and an 1176 compressor. The room isn’t treated and it sounds like shit, but I’ve worked in it long enough to know what the weird low/mid-end frequencies are actually doing. It’s really a blessing to have a home setup because we like to work every day. And because we’re familiar with the setup, we can work really fast.
How have you reached certain goals or steps in your career?
We are kind of control freaks, so honestly, we try to do everything ourselves–whether it’s making/producing our music, videos, art, running social media, etc., we like to do it all! It’s super important to us that when we look back at an album we’ve done or a video we made or whatever it is, that we feel like it’s true to what we wanted to express. That’s why we like recording at home, and even before I had my home setup, I worked at a studio (Different Fur in San Francisco) so I could work on our record there at a natural pace. We have a ton of super talented friends, too, so if we need people to help us out, that’s usually who we turn to.
I think I’ll always make music, just because it brings me so much joy, but it’s really the fans that keep us motivated to be a band. Being in a band is a lot more than just making music–all the promoting, touring, etc., but whenever those parts start to feel like a grind, the love our fans show us always keeps us going. The letters we get from people telling us how much our songs have affected them… it’s really just incredible and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I just feel super lucky to be able to get to do this every day.
What does it feel like to become a Premier Partner? Where do you want to take your career next?
Right now we’re just really excited to be putting out “Running In Circles” and more new music!! As for bigger picture stuff… we just really want to keep moving and trying new things. Whether that’s writing new kinds of songs, or playing in places we’ve never played before, or collaborating with new people… there are so many different things you can do with music and I feel like we’ve just gotten started. As far as the immediate future goes, I’d love to start touring a little more. We’ve been in the studio so much the last year or so, we’re itching to get back out there!!
We are hoping through this relationship, we can continue to do what we love, and that’s make music!
Who or what is inspiring you creatively? Are there people that you’d like to collaborate or work with?
Of course we’re inspired by the music we’re listening to… but lately I’ve felt more inspired by visual stuff. I love everything Ridley Scott does… Someone To Watch Over Me and Blade Runner in particular… we love Louis C.K. and his show… we love Twilight Zone…. everything by Woody Allen…
The past couple years I’ve worked on music in a more collaborative way than I ever have before. I ended up producing and co-writing a handful of records in Japan–some with a rock band from Hokkaido, and I also got the opportunity to work with this amazing composer I’ve loved for years now named Yoko Kanno, on some incredible soundtrack stuff. I just finished working on like 7 or 8 songs with the California band WATERS that I’m super stoked on (there are a couple out now on their SoundCloud that you can hear). I started some rad stuff with RAC that I’m excited about, too!
Hear POP ETC’s newest track, “Running in Circles.” For more information on our creator partner program On SoundCloud, head over to on.soundcloud.com. To read more interviews from On SoundCloud Premier Partners, click here.