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An Interview with Winterstate

WINTERSTATE is led by singer-songwriter Kelvin Killmon (Seattle, WA) and multi-instrumentalist Alex Ortberg (Rochester, MN). The pair met as students at Berklee College of Music’s campus in Valencia, Spain and have continued to write and record new songs together inspired by feel-good bands like The Killers, Mae, Anberlin, Incubus and Foo Fighters.

Read our full interview with them below.

For those who don’t know, how long have you been making music and how would you describe your style?
We met at Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain in 2015 – and we’ve been making feel-good rock music together ever since. We’re inspired by a lot of the energetic bands we grew up listening to, like The Killers, Mae, Incubus, Foo Fighters, and Jimmy Eat World.

Winterstate-Band

Could you briefly describe your music making process?
Our creative process is pretty unique. We work long distance most of the year, and co-write online. Sometimes I (Kelvin) come to Alex with an acoustic song, and he arranges and produces the instrumental. Other times, Alex has an entire instrumental track recorded, and I contribute the melody and lyrics. It’s been really essential for us to have that collaboration and feedback from each other during the writing process. When we perform our songs live we work with a rotating lineup of very talented musicians who join us on stage.

What can you tell us about your latest release, “Technicolor”?
“Technicolor” is our sophomore album, and I think we struck a good balance between fun sing-along pop rock songs and some more serious and introspective material. There’s definitely an underlying political message to the second half of the album. We’re trying to encourage people to get out and make their voices heard through activism. I’ve tried to address issues related to social justice and the climate crisis through my lyrics without being too transparent or heavy-handed.

We’ve also included interludes in three different languages throughout the record. The only way to understand the entire message is to connect with people who can translate those sections for you. We hope it encourages our listeners to reach out and connect with a broader community.

For our album’s lead single – “On Top of the World” – we enlisted the help of legendary Grammy Award-winning mix engineer Chris Lord-Alge (responsible for classics including American Idiot – Green Day, The Black Parade – My Chemical Romance), and mastering engineer Ted Jensen (Come Away with Me – Norah Jones). It’s been amazing working with industry heavy-hitters like that, and I think we’ve learned a lot from the process.

If you could collaborate with any artist, past or present, who would you choose?
I know Alex would probably want to collaborate with Switchfoot. We’re both big fans of their music. Personally, I’d like to work with more artists from outside our genre. On our last record we featured a rap section from our friend Brail Watson, and I think it added some great variety.

What do you have planned creatively for the upcoming year?
Along with our release, we are hosting a contest through January. Anyone who would like to cover or remix one of our songs can enter to win a cash prize of up to $500! It’s a fun way to give back to the indie music community, and hear some interesting new takes on the music we’ve written. To enter, check out the rules posted on https://winterstateband.com/contest


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