Welcome to the first installment of Roland Cloud's new Artist Spotlight series, an episodic journey that will showcase inspiring artists from across the musical spectrum; from masters of their craft to up and coming artists. In this series we'll be interviewing and sharing the view from the people who are shaping music today.
In this episode, we're excited to bring you one of our favorite contemporary artists. She's a stellar producer, captivating musician and performer, master-class educator, and one-half of the powerhouse duo AKYLLA.
Roland Cloud's first Artist Spotlight is excited to focus our attention on Sherry St. Germain. You may know her from her work with EDM sensation AKYLLA, her collaboration with legend Steve Aoki, her work with Snails and NGHTMRE, her master-classes for popular DAW software or even from her over 15 years of musical work in television and movies. We knew all of this, but of course, wanted to know more. We recently caught up with Sherry and took a deeper look at this musical inspiration and focused on one her primary motivators, combining learning, music and ulitmately sharing both.
In the DNA
When trying to understand someone as complex as Sherry St. Germain, it's important to do a bit of DNA analysis. Sherry comes from a family with strong ties to both music and education, having a mother who was a teacher and a father that played music 6 nights a week, had his own television show that aired every Sunday for 14 years in Canada, and was in the Country Music Hall of Fame. "My brother and I would be sitting on the knees of our uncle, who'd be showing us a jazz lick on guitar at 7 years old," Sherry laughed. "We grew up in the scene that I find myself in now, pretty much."
As a result of her childhood enviroment, a common and consistent thread in Sherry's career has been recognizing the interplay between music, learning, and teaching. Sherry discovered the electronic music scene when she was 18 and was consumed with soaking in as much as she could. "Back when the rave scene was still underground, I would go to raves and use what my mom taught me: she taught me to listen to a song and understand numerically what was happening. I could listen to a song and go 'that's A 1 to A minor 6 to A flat 3 to A 4.' I'd go to these raves and I would find napkins at the raves and write down the changes that I could hear in the music. I would obsess over the changes in the music, they would do something to me, so I'd be writing down theory notes like a crazy person on whatever I could find. Then I would go back home and try to figure them out."
Now that she's carved a name for herself on the modern stage, she has some interesting observations around sharing her insights and knowledge. "I'm all about sharing secrets, you know what I mean? A lot of the time production people hold their secrets dearly to them. And I get it sometimes, because that's like 'your sound,' but at the same time, no one can really replicate what you do. They can try. You can give them the secrets, But people are still going to know that person ripped off another person's sound. I am all about giving away information for free, for the soul growth and the brain growth of like-minded individuals. I feel like when I trade secrets, I get it back."
"I learn so much when I teach" she added, emphatically. "It really goes hand-in-hand, learning and teaching. And it's in me, because my mom is a teacher, it's in my DNA. It's something that, you know, it's not the thing I want to dedicate my life to, but when Akylla isn't touring, I'm definitely going to be going to schools, doing masterclasses, working with kids, trying to develop their confidence and teach them through electronic music, music they want to learn."
Let's fast-forward a few years to Sherry's latest musical endeavor with partner Sara Saratonin, the powerhouse duo AKYLLA. Sherry informed us that AKYLLA started initially as a teaching exchange, and then fate stepped in.
"Sara was walking out of the studio, I was walking in, and we looked at each other and kind of tilted our heads and went 'huh,' almost like we felt we knew each other. We just started chatting. She's a DJ and I'm a producer, so we decided we'd trade DJ lessons for production lessons and just see what would happen. You know, girl power. Then she came over to my place and we just jammed. It was instant chemistry." Sherry continued that Sara's daughter posed the question "When are you going to do the band?" The rest, as they say, is history.
Check out AKYLLA on SoundCloud