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Power Man and Astro Girl to the rescue: Kristjan Eastman’s psych-pop salvation

by Myk Brazier

photo courtesy of Kristjan Eastman

If you’re in the mood to sway in your lover’s arms after eating delicious waffles on a beautiful Sunday morning or get super mellow with your friends around the campfire this summer then look no further - Kristjan Eastman’s got your soundtrack covered. His latest release Power Man and Astro Girl is a psych-pop journey that shimmers with catchy hooks and original style. I caught up with him on a crisp April evening and while the fire crackled in my wood stove we chatted about what’s going on in his world. 

We started our conversation by talking about the release of the new record which came out on April 5th: “It’s been finished for a while and it just seemed like now is the right time to do it. The content of the record lyrically with a song like ‘Power Man and Astro Girl’; It’s kind of an anti-war, anti-violence song and is apropos with everything that’s going on right now in the world. ‘Power Man and Astro Girl’ is talking about these two superheroes but really what we’re talking about is ourselves as individuals. How we can make the difference - how we can make our voices heard to bring resolution to some of these conflicts.” Eastman shared. The prescient allegory of the title track will not incite a revolution but rather have you bopping along into an evolution of peaceful self empowerment.

Eastman utilizes a stream of consciousness approach to his song writing. He explained: “If I get an idea for a song I’ll just sit down with GarageBand (recording program) and bang out the chord progression. As I’m doing it I’m thinking of a melody to add to the chord progression and a lot of times I’ll just start singing whatever is in my head.” By building up a musical framework the lyrics take shape and are refined through each successive play-through as Eastman pulls them from the ether. “With lyric writing, for me, it’s kind of the best. You’re not really putting any pressure on yourself to think of anything. You’re just allowing it to happen naturally.” This approach gives Eastman’s lyrics a playful yet surreal quality which creates a dynamic synergy with his dreamy soundscapes. 

SJ Kardash (Bloodlines, Reignwolf) was enlisted for his production and engineering talents. He also produced Eastman’s first album as well as playing bass on both records. “I had 22 or 23 songs that I sent him to listen to and we narrowed it down to eight. Pretty much everything on there I did myself except bass and drums and a couple keyboard and guitar parts.” Eastman continued “I do the demos and I give them to SJ and he really has an ear for putting the right parts in at the right times to just push them over the edge where they need to be, for example the lead guitar part on the ‘The Sun is in my eyes.’”

Besides a world wide release of the new album Eastman plans to have videos for the songs “The Sun is in my eyes” and “Power Man and Astro Girl” out in early June. A variety of live performances with various iterations of his ensemble are planned for the summer and fall. Being of Cree and Icelandic roots Eastman also has a collaboration planned for some live recordings with musicians in Iceland to honor his Nordic heritage.

Eastman’s last record Sigurlin fared well on the indie charts with basically no promotion and he’s hoping Power Man and Astro Girl will reach an even larger audience. Not one to rest on his laurels, he already has another album in the works and is hoping to push his musical boundaries into uncharted territory: “You know when David Bowie was making a record he would say it’s like walking out into the ocean as far as you can and you’re on your tiptoes and the water is up to your nose and you almost can’t breathe…then you know you’re in the right spot.”

We also talked about Eastman’s love of literature and how it has informed his work: “Whether you’re reading Mark Twain, Charles Dickens or George Orwell - any of those guys. The way that they use language can really influence how you use language.” He’s always been an avid reader and recalls particularly enjoying Hermann Hesse’s “Steppenwolf” in high school. He continued “People are talking now about George Orwell’s 1984 how the Government had cameras everywhere and was watching everybody and lo and behold that’s exactly what has happened.” Hopefully Power Man and Astro Girl can hold off the police state for a few years yet.

Music has always been in Eastman’s blood, he recalled: “When I was young I would be visiting family and I would just sit at the turntable with headphones on and just sit there and listen to records all day. I loved the melody and I loved the lyrics they were singing. It touched me on a certain level and it made me think ‘I can do that’'' Kristjan Eastman is following his lifelong passion making music and putting out records, when I asked him if he had any advice for his fellow earthlings this is what he shared:

“I think that we live in a society where we’re so worried about making money and doing this and doing that. We’re missing life as it’s going by us. Everybody just needs to follow their dream.”

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