In an empty room formerly occupied by patients of the Camarillo State Hospital in Camarillo, Christopher Yanez and Lizett Evangelista gaze through closed windows, pace and twirl around the empty floor, and fade in and out of existence. The pair make up Astreyas, an electronic-infused rock outfit from Oxnard, and this is the video for their debut single, “Anomaly.”
Long Live Analog
Yanez and Evangelista created Astreyas in 2018 when the pair’s interests crossed paths. Yanez, who had previously appeared in various shoegaze-tinged bands ala My Bloody Valentine, met Evangelista when she approached him about helping her find a unique sound to go along with the ideas she had floating in her head.
Yanez immediately rejected the idea of using computers to create the amalgamation that would become Astreyas’ sound.
“What if we brought back this more analog sound with actual hardware?” said Yanez, at the onset, pulling from his collection of vintage analog equipment.
To that end, Yanez brought with him a Clavia Nord Lead 2X Virtual Analog Synthesizer and Eastwood DEVO Bob1 Signature Whip It Guitar, just to name a few. All instruments are hand-played and synced electronically, with acoustic tracks synced with drums and so on.
“It gives it a more lively feel which ended up being a trademark of our sound, because it has more of an organic feeling because of those live drums,” said Yanez.
Adventures in Songwriting
Both natives of Oxnard, the pair make a unique duo themselves. Yanez grew up playing music, locking himself in his room with tabs from The Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness until he perfected the sound. Evangelista’s family was involved in her church’s choir. As Astreyas’ vocalist, she brings with her a love for singing, though she never partook in church activities and instead found her voice on the karaoke stage.
Evangelista also serves as primary lyricist for the band, describing her songwriting as an artistic endeavor.
“When I do music it’s more like a painting,” said Evangelista. “It’s a feeling that I go off on an adventure with.”
Working backwards once Yanez has developed the sound, Evanglista says she draws from it the mood and writes lyrics based on where the song leads her.
“Once I hear the song, in my head, I start building the story and feeling,” said Evangelista. The pair meetup and discuss their feelings regarding the track and then “meet in the middle.”
Reaching for the stars
Both members of Astreyas hold day jobs on opposite schedules, Yanez’s work taking him into the early morning hours. Most of his songwriting takes place between the hours of 2 a.m. And 4 a.m., said Yanez, alluding to the album Muzik for Insomniaks by Devo’s Mark Allen Mothersbaugh. Yanez also points to Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode as early influences.
“Astreyas” in Spanish is “star,” chosen specifically to allude to the band’s lofty goals of making music for space travelers. The debut single, “Anomaly,” kicks off with strings and rockets toward a late ’90s techno-rock hybrid with raging guitars accompanied by upbeat dance chords, Evangelista’s Shirley Manson-esque vocals as haunting as the location chosen for the video.
For Astreyas’ next album, Evangelista is aiming for a heavier, darker sound.
“I was surprised the EP didn’t come out as heavy,” said Evangelista, hoping to add more grinding guitar. “For my taste it came out a little too poppy.”
Astreyas’ debut self-titled album can be found on Spotify, Apple Music and other digital streaming services, as well as in limited physical formats available at Salzer’s Records and Amoeba Hollywood. For more information on the band, visit www.facebook.com/astreyasmusic.