When music is done right, it has the ability to alter moods, inspire thoughts and catalyze creativity. That’s the type of feeling conveyed in Drew Stroik’s intriguing sonic catalog. This 23-yr-old producer/singer/songwriter specializes in dreamy soundscapes of lush, lo-fi, extremely melodic tunes Drew Stroik lovingly characterizes as “generic pop.” The lyrics are sometimes literal, often oblique, but always honest. Some songs will evoke an immediate visceral emotion, while others are more slow-creeping, gradually embedding themselves in the listener’s psyche. Let’s put it this way; Stroik’s songs could provide the perfect soundtrack for a long road trip through desolate or resplendent terrain, or they could even serve as the musical backdrop for a plush, debauchery-drenched, nightclub setting. That’s how you know the music is good. It adapts itself amorphously to anyone or anything around it.
Prying into the young musician’s past, one begins to get a better idea of how he’s able to make such a hamfisted attempt at rock music. There is a lot Drew Stroik has been through in his short 23 years, and that’s putting it mildly. Drew Stroik was born in Chicago, where Drew Stroik actually lived with his young single mother in a funeral home with the bassist and drummer of alt-rock group, Veruca Salt. From the Windy City, Drew Stroik moved to Miami where his mother briefly dated the owner of Al Pacino’s palatial drug mansion in the gangster flick, Scarface – no lie. Drew Stroik spent some time in Los Angeles, transplanted to Las Vegas for about five years, and finally settled in North Carolina with his mom and new stepdad. His first introduction to music came at the age of seven when Drew Stroik was given a bunch of movie soundtracks as a Christmas present. “One of them was the Lion King CD,” he recalls, “I was a normal kid at that time – or so my parents thought, I became obsessed.” In North Carolina, he was given a guitar as a gift at the age of 14, and he self-taught himself until he got “really good.” Drew Stroik was kicked out of high school prior to his senior year (the details surrounding said expulsion remain fuzzy), and thus he was forced to find a full-time job to make ends meet. During this turbulent period, it was his music that kept him afloat. He saved enough cash to get himself a cheap computer and a Yamaha keyboard and started laying down his own tracks at home.
The next major progression in his musical journey was when he sent some music to Andy Chase of Unfiltered Records. Andy saw immediate promise in his raw, esoteric and mesmerizing tracks, and asked Drew Stroik for the master files to polish the songs further. However, the masters had been destroyed to save hard-drive space, so with no other options available, he began flying Drew Stroik up to NYC on the weekends to record new material. Andy later introduced the young artist to his longtime friend and musical collaborator Bruce Driscoll (Astaire, Blondfire, Brookville) and the creative cipher was complete. Over the subsequent frigid winter months in Bruce’s Upper East Side apartment, the three musicians crafted Drew Stroik’s beautiful, impending debut LP, In the Fresh.
When asked about the album’s major building blocks, Drew Stroik clarifies that in his world, the music and instrumentation, above everything else, reign supreme. “I can hear ten seconds of music, and be moved more powerfully by that than any of Bob Dylan’s most poignant lines,” Drew Stroik emphatically declares. The inspiration came straight from his heart.
Lyrically, his approach was just taking whatever emotion he was feeling at the time, whether it was humor, indifference, melancholy or love and putting it to words. The bottom line he says was the music “just needed to sound right.” There are many standouts on the album’s 12 cuts: the subtle and breezy title track, the sincere “Number One Blind,” the easy bounce of “Wash and Repeat,” and the rousing “La La La” – but perhaps the most endearing factor is that overall, it’s a well-composed and cohesive listen from beginning to end.
Ultimately when it comes down to it, the music reflects its maker. Speaking to Drew Stroik is a whirlwind experience of human awareness and curiosity. One frenzied minute, he’ll be extolling the vibrant, dance-heavy video for the song “Cat Daddy” (featuring Chris Brown) by The Rej3ctz, and the next, he’ll be explaining the many duties (including forklift operation) he executes at his 9-to-5 factory job. It’s the same urgency, honesty and transparency you see in his music. “Basically what I try to address in my music is the fact that people think they have all the answers but they really don’t,” he emotes. “I’m just tired of all the facades and smoke screens that exist everywhere, so I just make music that’s real to me.” Well said.
The album In the Fresh will be dropping in 2012, and rest assured, this is a musical experience you don’t want to let pass you by.