On the Rise: Astronauts, etc.

"Supermelodic pulp/arena pop"

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Astronauts, etc.'s Anthony Ferraro
Guardian photo by Keeney + Law Photography

It'd be easy to resent Anthony Ferraro, the force behind Astronauts, etc., if he didn't seem like such an agreeable guy. In the months following his graduation from UC Berkeley last summer -- a time when many of us are flipping coins to decide between the barista job or the unpaid internship -- Ferraro had just become Toro y Moi's new keyboardist, and was juggling prep for their international tour with writing songs for his second solo EP. The latter project will be released in the next month or so, but the first single, "Sadie," a happily hazed-out, keys-focused electronic number that sounds like a love ballad on Vicodin, has already charmed the entire chillwave-loving Internet.

A classically trained pianist who has the French composer Hector Berlioz tattooed on his arm, Ferraro now directs his energy toward making music that sounds like it was sent from the future, though he describes it simply as "supermelodic pulp." He's supported by Scott Brown on bass, Derek Barber on guitar, and Aaron Gold on drums, "all incredible musicians who can play circles around me, and often do," he says. The resulting sound is lush, dreamy, and so full that it doesn't quite feel right to call Ferraro a bedroom producer.

The music's also definitely collaborative; he's part of the Non-Market collective, a group of Oakland friend-bands that all seem to be growing in one way or another, including Waterstrider, Bells Atlas, last year's On the Rise band Trails and Ways, and this year's Goldie winner The Seshen. (Members of Waterstrider and Bells Atlas are part of Astronauts Etc's live band as well.) And while his highly anticipated EP isn't out yet, Ferraro's just begun demo-ing tracks for an LP he plans to record in the summer or fall. Long story short: Get used to hearing his name.

Weirdest thing that's happened at a show?

Probably the Toro y Moi show in Columbia, S.C., where someone lit a bunch of scraps of paper on fire and dropped them on us from the balcony. I think he had a cape on, too. He got escorted out, and we somehow didn't miss a beat.

Bay Area food item you couldn't (metaphorically) live without?

The $4 bánh mì at the Vietnamese place around the corner from my house. When you're in that final stretch before you get paid from tour, those start to look real good.

How do you survive here as a musician? What's the best and worst thing about being a musician in the Bay Area?

It's not as much a national musical hub as places like Brooklyn or LA, but the Bay is such a welcoming place for artists of any sort. The beauty of it is that everyone survives together, not in spite of each other. Maybe the worst thing about it is that it's easy to get stuck here, but then you realize that that's not such a bad thing after all.

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