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Planets Interview and Review

Planets, the debut LP from saxophonist, composer, producer, and Kalamazoo native Stratøs is here (well, it will be tomorrow)! In contrast to his previous work on the project DiE - created during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and focusing on isolation, Planets takes a collaborative approach featuring some of Stratøs’ closest friends and mentors. The album brings together the many genres featured including jazz, hip hop, electronic, classical and more through one cohesive narrative. We sat down with Stratøs himself to learn a little more about the project in the following interview.

What was your inspiration for this album?

I wanted to make an album that was really "collectible" for lack of a better word. I really like collections. The 8 Planets, the 12 months, etc. Gustav Holst is perhaps most famous for his 7 movement suite "The Planets." While I quite enjoy this work, it wasn't necessarily the inspiration behind this album. However, also being a fan of lineage, I tried to pay homage to his melody from "Mars, the Bringer of War" in my track 'Mars (feat. David Binney)." I wanted to best find a way to encapsulate the past 6 or so years of music I've been doing in a complete standalone set.

How was it collaborating with so many people on this project during the pandemic?

It was an interesting yet fulfilling challenge collaborating with so many different people for this record. I had to write the tunes differently than I normally would. A lot of my music is based in Black American music of the 20th century, which heavily utilizes improvisation. Collective improvisation is better when you are playing with people in real time, so I had to rethink how the tunes would work. I couldn't rely so much on raw improvisation so instead I focused on composition and production, and tried creating elaborate landscapes for people (and myself) to improvise over.

What is your favorite song on the album and why?