Jesse Clasen and Jacob Michael, the masterminds behind Foreign Air, have been surfing through the waves of the alternative electronic music scene, racking up 100 million streams before ever releasing a full-length album. With 10 years of musicianship under their belts, the duo demonstrates that passion and catchy melodies can go a long way, as they’ve shared their music to a world-wide audience through their global advertising campaigns for Samsung, Nike, Vodafone, Microsoft, and more. Now, the D.C. and L.A.-based indie-rock duo has released their debut album, Good Morning Stranger, out today on all streaming platforms.
Presented in a 16-song collection of indie-electronica packed with sultry grooves, interwoven interludes, and chant-worthy choruses, Good Morning Stranger represents the official coalescing of Clasen and Michael’s sound as Foreign Air. Written and recorded throughout the country, Good Morning Stranger blends an intoxicating collection of indie, hip-hop, and electronic pop through vintage synthesizers and hypnotic beats.
While wide-ranging in terms of genres and moods, Clasen and Michael walk us through their songwriting process and production of Good Morning Stranger. Read below for the duo’s personal take on each song on the debut album as you listen through.
“What Will I Be?”
“The intro track is the first of four trippy interludes that were made to tie Good Morning Stranger together. We wanted the interludes to lean a little bit heavier on sampling and effects as opposed to the rest of the album. This is one of my favorite tracks and we were definitely inspired by J Dilla and Pink Floyd. If you listen closely at the big section at the end you can hear laughter panning from left to right and playing at all different speeds. The opening lyric I sing is, “You’re gonna be one of us,” so it’s like an initiation into the album.” –Clasen
“We really love the sounds in the Italian Western soundtracks from the 60’s. A lot of the songs in this song were inspired by Ennio Morricone’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” –Michael
“Lyrically, it’s obviously about a breakup…sorta foreshadowing what was coming in my life I suppose. The music video for this song was done spur of the moment in my living room using my iPhone to frame the shots. It came out pretty good especially for not really planning it at all.” –Clasen
“The Apartment” – Foreign Air
[Video: Foreign Air]
“Inspired by Can’s ‘Vitamin C’ song. Lyrically, it touches on someone dealing with bipolar disorder and how sometimes you are your own worst enemy. Musically, we wanted it to feel just as manic with extreme highs and lows.” –Michael
“The verses are big and bombastic and the chorus shrinks down to this single mic acoustic guitar and vocal that feels very intimate and strange. It definitely comes out of nowhere.” –Clasen
“I remembered growing up in Maryland and seeing the Believe signs all over Baltimore as a kid. That has always stuck with me. This song is about seeing the good in each other.” –Michael
“The drums for this song were recorded at the iconic Barefoot Studios in Hollywood. It’s the only song on the album where we rented a studio to record drums, which was a lot of fun for me since I can’t fit a drum set in my current studio space. –Clasen
“Heavily inspired by Sister Nancy’s song, “Bam Bam”. The song is about giving up the toxic things in your life so you can go out and be the best version of yourself.” –Michael
“We really went crazy with the autotune at the end which was a lot of fun. I’ve always wanted to do that but haven’t found the right moment until now.” –Clasen
“I wrote this interlude when I was living in Brooklyn. I was inspired by the late night train rides. There’s something eerie about sitting on a bench underground waiting for the subway to pull up. That wind rushes in before the train is even in sight and the rats scurry along the tracks. This song is about all the creepy business deals that go down in New York and how money can really change people. I wanted the vocal to shift pitches as I was singing to signify the morphing of the antagonist in the story. You can tell something’s not right when he’s speaking to you…the darkness is slowly rising to the surface.” –Clasen
“The first song we wrote for the album three years ago, but also the song that took the longest to finish writing. We had the chorus but could never seem to get the verses right until a few months ago.” –Michael
“This is definitely a horror movie anthem…about all the strange people out there that you may run into when out on the town. I hope we can release the alternate versions of this song at some point. This song probably had the most changes to it over time and I actually enjoy each iteration.” –Clasen
“Illusion is about obsession and how the human mind can be intensely consumed by a single idea. We’re always looking for patterns in the world to help us understand it. Losing yourself is great and necessary but life can get strange if you lose yourself for too long, follow the wrong ideas, or find yourself in the echo chamber of social media’s algorithm.” –Michael
“We wrote this song in New York. It was inspired by the notion of being in a city where you can be constantly surrounded by people and still feel completely alone.” –Michael
“The music is a bit of a juxtaposition when compared to the lyrics. The music starts off with this Mellotron harpsichord, it reminds me of an opening scene of a Wes Anderson film. It sounds super happy”. –Clasen
“Ultra Mega Love”
“‘Love somebody if you love somebody, gotta give to get some’ is the message. You can really hear the Spaghetti Western influence on this one. It opens up with the epic lap steel guitar. We were inspired by a lot of the 90’s music we grew up listening to as kids. The verse lyrics are more about painting a strange picture as opposed to telling you a story. That’s one thing we loved about the 90’s with artists like Beck and At the Drive-In.” –Michael and Clasen
“Don’t Use My Name”
“We wrote this song after the album had been finished and represents a lot of what we had been going through and had to overcome in order for us to finish making the record. It’s meant to be a self empowering anthem about pulling yourself up when it feels like everyone around you has counted you out. It’s a reminder to the both of us that as long as we stick together we can overcome any obstacle. The bridge vocal, ‘I’ve got my eyes on you’ is one of my favorite moments. We recorded it at a very slow speed so when we played it back it sounded like an old sample.” –Michael and Clasen
“This interlude was written in Los Angeles before I moved there. We were crashing at our friend’s band’s apartment, GoldenSuns, while they were out of town. This track is all about escapism. ‘Warm up the car, let’s drive to Mars. I’ve got to celebrate this time. I’m only here for so long’. We wanted this one to be super immersive, like you’re getting lost in space and all your memories are floating in the ether while you fly your Tesla through the galaxy. Our good friend, Walker, played the sax for us on this one too.” –Clasen
“Don’t Tell Me What To Do”
“We wrote this song with our friend, Max. We just wanted to have fun on this one with no boundaries. It has this post punk attitude and out of nowhere, there’s this Queen-esque bridge with operatic vocals. It’s one of my favorite moments on the album. ‘Don’t tell me what to do, I’ll do it anyway’. Need I say more? Haha.” –Clasen
“Life Goes On”
“We wrote this song at an Airbnb in Nashville. Around the corner from the Airbnb was an amazing music store called East Side Music Supply. I bought a Korg Rhythm 33 and a couple of the meris pedals there one morning. We ran the drum machine through a pitch shifter / delay and bit crusher pedal to make the beat for this song.” –Michael
“Ren and Stimpy was my favorite cartoon growing up. That’s where the lyric, ‘Happy Happy Joy Joy’ comes from. This is the last interlude on the album.” –Clasen
“We had this really beautiful ballad of a song that was mainly focused around the vocal and piano. We wanted to mess that up a little bit so we added chopped up vocal samples that Jesse did on a Line 6 M9 pedal. I then added a big gritty m83 sounding Serum synth lead to the chorus and some other more rhythmic vocal chops to take it out of that original ballad world and into some place new and different.” –Michael
Stream Good Morning Stranger by Foreign Air on all streaming platforms here or listen via the Spotify player below. For more information, visit the Foreign Air website.