The two young brothers in acoustic-pop band Minor Soul have a bit of a complicated background — I’d tell you where they’re from, but I’m still not quite sure. To be honest, I’m not entirely certain that they even know for sure. What I do know is that Jack and Max Wagner were born in England, grew up in Hong Kong, and now live in New York. To spice up their bio even more, the two brothers even made a few pit stops along the way, including one in Los Angeles, where they joined forces with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) at Henson Studios to record some songs. Later that year, Minor Soul released a video for “Beneath my Skin”, a song that came out of these sessions.
These days, Minor Soul is staying extremely present online by releasing videos on YouTube, as well as posting tunes that might one day end up on an official Minor Soul release. But, before they release an album, the guys are keen on making an impression on their latest city of residence — New York, New York. Their latest song/video, “Streets of New York”, was produced and co-written with renown hit maker, Toby Gad; whether you’ve heard Minor Soul play before or not, the catchy number is a good briefing on where the band is in 2012, both literally and figuratively.
The winding road that brought Minor Soul from England to New York seems to have inversely defined the band — almost like a photo negative — and added a layer of perennial transience that would paradoxically give them a sense of belonging to the notion that they might not actually belong anywhere. “We really do have a complex background,” admits Jack Wagner. “It’s probably why we always end up having excessively long conversations with people who just ask us: “Where are you from?” But this feeling we have of not belonging to any one country or city really affects how we see the world, our existence, and therefore, our music.”
Getting a chance to work with Dave Stewart was no doubt a good push forward in Minor Soul’s young career, something they are quick to acknowledge. “That whole experience was pretty surreal,” says Jack. “Dave approached us out of the blue, after hearing our demos online. We were both so nervous before we first met him, but he turned out to be a really friendly and inspiring guy.”
“We learned so much recording with him,” adds Max. “Not only about the songwriting craft but also about this crazy music industry. Dave also wants us to develop ourselves, so he didn’t streamline us to overnight success.”
Though Jack and Max, 20 and 18 respectively, grew up discovering music together, each has his own influences. “He worships Bon Iver and Radiohead,” Max says about Jack. “While I have always preferred pop music and love seeing the different ways pop can be expressed and created. This is why a song like “Streets of New York” can be seen as both pop and original or creative. Minor Soul is the area between us, which is what I really love about our songwriting process.”
As young men of the digital age, Jack and Max have an understanding of the industry that somewhat exceeds what would be expected of guys their age. “I don’t think that free music is really a problem for bands, because labels have always taken most of that money,” says Max. “And it does seem that labels are becoming less and less vital for bands who want to become household names — going viral can happen whether you are signed or not.”
“The main way bands can make money is by playing shows,” adds Jack. “And I think that’s a great thing. In the end, fans will pay a lot of money to see their favourite band play, and it encourages bands to become great performers, not just in the studio. We work on our live show every time we play for that very reason.”
For now you can catch the boys playing in New York City or wait for their next video, but the wait might be a little longer for an album or tour. “Right now we are just focusing on releasing songs and music videos,” says Jack. “We definitely hope that an album comes out soon, but there are no official plans for that yet. And as for touring, we are still working on becoming a top band in New York.”
Get more on Minor Soul on their official website www.minorsoul.com