Techno Squirrels is an electronic music duo based in San Francisco, California, USA consisting of producers Lisa Eriksson and Ryan Harlin. They have released 3 EPs and a full-length LP to date, been featured artists on KCRW's Sounds Eclectic with Nic Harcourt, BBC's Radio 1, XM Satellite Radio, MTV's The Real World (Sydney), The Real World (Hollywood), Road Rules Challenge, and Sci-Fi Channel's Regenesis. Recently they released their first video. The track "Love Comes First" charted on Nr 1 on Sirius Satellite Radio's Top 40 (Channel 35) in November 2007. The track was also included on Om Record's Chill Compilation (Volume 2). A remix of the track "Love Comes First (Styrofoam Kid Remix) was recently included on Paul Van Dyk's 2008 Ibiza Cream Compilation.
"Who plays what?" It's an odd question to pose to an electronic band like Techno Squirrels -probably a relic of the pre-computer days when bands consisted of musicians who focused on the contribution of their single instrument. For Lisa and Ryan, the lines are much more blurry. So who plays what in Techno Squirrels? "I don't know how to answer," says Eriksson, "I play Reason 3.0, Pro Tools, and Abelton Live." Perhaps one could more easily say that they both play the computer as their instrument. More specifically, you could say they play the mouse and the razor blade, cutting up and rearranging sounds and textures to form their brand of pop-friendly electronic music which has as much in common with club trance as it does with top-40 pop.
"If you listen to our music, it's easy to assume Lisa sings and I make the music since her voice is out in front. But that's so far from the case," says Ryan. In fact, for a band comprised of two music producers with formal educations in the field of audio production, their roles as dual creators of the sounds, samples, and beats that populate their music is on very equal ground.
"We both have our strong-suits and thankfully they compliment each other. Lisa's very technical and adept at beat-making and sound design. If either one of us is going to hole up in the studio for 2 days cutting up sounds and creating layers of noises, it's probably gonna be Lisa," says Ryan of his producing partner. "I'm a little more macro oriented. I'm always working out structure and song development."
The Techno Squirrels have released 2 EPs and their first full-length LP to date, they've begun licensing their music to national and international Television and film works, and they've built up a sizable group of fans from around the world - leveraging social sites like myspace to connect with people on a one-to-one level.
Lisa grew up in Sweden - a country known for its long winter nights. But where there are long nights, there are long raves and Lisa quickly found herself immersed in Sweden's techno scene. "Fluke, Underworld, Bjork, and the Chemical Brothers," says lisa. "That was my awakening. I instantly traded in my collection of Black Sabbath vinyl for a Korg MS-10 and a Roland 606 drum machine." Not content to merely listen to others make this new music, Lisa got her hands dirty making it herself. She was quickly digging deeper and deeper into the new production techniques afforded by a computer-based studio. Ultimately, Lisa would go on to earn a Masters Degree in Audio Production from Westminster University, London.
"In the process of production I love the payoff you get from time spent creating custom samples," says Eriksson. "All samples used on our new album were created by me recording random sounds like a squeaking door or a treadmill, and then distorting, reversing, flipping, and otherwise destroying the sound on the computer to create a wholly unrecognizable texture or accent for a track."
Ryan is no stranger to production either. As a producer and studio owner in Philadelphia in the 1990s, Ryan was embracing electronic music production techniques which have become common-place today. "It’s almost difficult to remember how out-of-the-ordinary it was, but I was using Pro Tools version 2.0 to record bands and telling my colleagues how nice is was to use computer functions like ‘cut’ and ‘paste’ in music production," Harlin recalls. For Ryan, the challenge of making music with Techno Squirrels has been avoiding the pitfalls of electronic music. "Technology has a powerful habbit of dating itself. Just watch anyone talking on a cell-phone in a movie that’s just 5 years old," says Ryan. "The same is true with sounds made by technology. You have to choose electronic sounds that will hopefully keep you from cringing in 5 years."
It was in Liverpool, England while both studying sound technology that Lisa and Ryan met, but it wasn't where Techno Squirrels started. Lisa and Ryan continued working on their own projects. Lisa became one half of the Euro-Art-Rock band, Schulte/Eriksson - where she played the electric guitar, did live sampling and sang. Their single eventually found its way to legendary BBC DJ John Peele. She also lent her voice to Ladytron's breakthrough single, "He Took Her To A Movie." Ryan, however, took a break from music as a co-founder of Emo Riot Productions.
After moving to Los Angeles, Lisa worked on new beats she would regularly show Ryan her latest ideas. Meanwhile, a third party made regular appearances outside the window - a friendly neighborhood squirrel whose fear of humans was outweighed by his taste for organic hazelnuts.
The ideas Lisa shared with Ryan quickly became collaborative projects - Techno Squirrels was born.
"a less weird Bjork"
Techno Squirrels is a "Carbon Neutral" band, meaning carbon dioxide offsets have been purchased to counteract the emissions generated in manufacturing and promoting their releases. For information on how to become "Carbon Neutral" yourself, visit www.carbonneutral.com