FROM: Austin, Texas
SEE: Outside Lands, Sound on Sound
Don’t bother asking: Kyle Dixon of minimal synth outfit S U R V I V E and one-half of the composing team behind the music featured in the Netflix series Stranger Things can’t tell you anything about the show’s upcoming second season.
“I can’t really say much,” he says, feigning exasperation. “There are some new characters…[and] it takes place one year later.”
“It’s not really dance music, but you can dance to anything.” — Kyle Dixon
But Dixon and his bandmates—including Stranger Things partner Michael Stein, plus keyboardists Adam Jones and Mark Donica—have plenty going on outside of the ’80s-influenced science fiction show. In 2016, the Austin, Texas, band released their second full-length album, RR7349, on Relapse Records. Though its foreboding analog vistas share common ground with the duo’s soundtrack work, influenced as it is by the music of John Carpenter and Tangerine Dream, it’s often even spookier. This summer, the band has the unique challenge of adapting the kind of sounds you might imagine listening to on giant headphones in a wood-paneled basement to festival crowds of kids wearing bikinis and shorts.
“It’s not really dance music, but you can dance to anything,” Dixon says. “Some people decide to do that, some people want to sit there and enjoy it.”
While the band doesn’t make traditional pop music, there’s a songwriting logic at work that’s helped them gain ground with the kind of listeners unconcerned with pared-down synth aesthetics or even the VHS-fueled horror/sci-fi underground that’s embraced them. He doesn’t consider S U R V I V E a pop group, per se, citing influences like French electronic duo Space Art and German Krautrock group Amon Düül, but says S U R V I V E strives to streamline those influences into a more economical format.
“We like a lot of prog music from the ’70s, but…there’s like five songs in one,” Dixon says. Instead of aiming for that same theatrical sprawl, S U R V I V E distills the most driving progressive rock tropes, creating a soundtrack to balmy festival nights: something that’s equal parts dread and euphoria. FL
This article originally appears in the FLOOD Festival Guide presented by Toyota C-HR. You can check out the rest of the magazine here.