Feature Band: Seattle’s Antonioni

– by Wendy Morley –

Seattle band Antonioni works collaboratively to turn an idea into something great.

Formed in 2016, Seattle band Antonioni consists of Sarah Pasillas on vocals, guitar & keyboard; Austin Dean on guitar, keyboard, vocals & violin; Kyle Todaro on drums and percussion and Ben Dorcy on bass.

The band has just released its second EP, The Odds Were All Beating Me – a departure from its earlier offering that “dives into harder hitting, psychedelic grunge pop territory.”

The Odds Were All Beating Me was produced and mixed by Rick Hoag and mastered by Levi Seitz (Jenn Champion, Pearl Jam). Inspired by sci-fi literature, surrealist films, and personal mythology, the EP consists of five songs carefully examining the internal peaks and valleys of coping with anxiety and uncertainty in a chaotic world. The record is the band’s first fully collaborative effort.

Antonioni performing at their EP release in January

Wendy Morley: Sarah, you are the face and the literal voice of the band — are you the songwriter? How much of a combined effort is this and how much of it is “your” band? You’ve got some history in Seattle’s music scene.

Sarah Pasillas: Yes, I have been writing and performing solo music for over ten years. I started as a teen, but didn’t record my solo album until about six years ago. I actually met Austin about four years ago at a solo show where he was the booker and bartender.

Antonioni usually works this way: I have a song idea, so I write it and record a quick demo at home. Then we spend hours and forever working on it together to turn it into something great. Some of the songs end up places where you wouldn’t even recognize them from where they had started.

Sometimes we keep only a sliver of what I had come up with because together we can make it so much stronger. I write all the lyrics, but the others help me so much with writing parts; Austin latches onto a song immediately and has the perfect ear for writing intricate and tasteful guitar parts, which I think partly stems from his background studying classical music; Kyle has a way of seeing music that I could never truly describe, and he has a very keen feel for structure, atmosphere, tension and momentum. We are constantly giving each other honest feedback and suggestions because we all have the same goal: find what is best for the song. So yes, it is my band and my project, but it is a hugely collaborative effort, and I can’t imagine working with another set of musicians—it just wouldn’t be Antonioni.

Sarah Pasillas started Antonioni with some solid experience behind her in Seattle’s thriving music scene

WM: Is there a way you would describe your sound? Is there a particular feel you’re going for? What do you want your listeners to experience?

SP: Sound description: According to music reviewer Brenna Beltramo, “somewhere between indie and grunge rock”

The feel we go for is layered and thoughtful texture with expansive space and purpose. We want listeners to connect with the music, vibe or lyrics in a way that is genuine and meaningful for them.

WM: Is there a difference between what you want your listeners to get from a recording vs a live show?

SP: We approach a live set as a cohesive unit, or as Rod Serling from The Twilight Zone would put it, “an experience not only of sight and sound, but of mind.” But really, we do treat our live shows as experiences to get immersed in.

WM: Here’s a tough one: How the hell does a musician/band make a living these days? I personally know a number of people who are saying, fuck that. I’ll play for fun on occasion and that’s it.

SP: We don’t make a living off of music, to put it bluntly. We all work full-time jobs, even though this band is a full-time job in itself. We’ve learned that nothing will happen unless you make it happen, which has meant a huge portion of our free time is now dedicated to bettering ourselves as musicians. We all make a lot of sacrifices in order to make this band what it is.

WM: Given the realities of the previous question, what drives you?

SP: What drives us is the process of expression and creativity, and the hope to communicate and connect with others, to hopefully share with others what we’ve needed [and received] from music.

The band’s second EP will offer up three videos as the band records its first full album

WM: Can you tell me anything about your new EP and any marketing plans for the release?

SP: Our second EP The Odds Were All Beating Me was released January 10th. We have three really awesome and unique music videos we’ve made ourselves to coincide with singles. The next video is set for release in February!

WM: What does the next year hold in store for Antonioni? Any touring?

SP: After the EP release is pre-production for our first full-length album, which we will be recording in March at The Unknown in Anacortes. We will be playing Look Up Fest in March, as well as playing shows in Portland, Olympia, Port Townsend, and Seattle this spring, including some in-store record shop performances, and a live set at KPSU in Portland.

Find more Antonioni here:

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