On the Rise: D.C.’s Experimental Pop Collective The North Country
September 10, 2021 @ 2:00pm
In early July, when venues began to open and the Delta surge was still weeks away, the six-member experimental pop collective The North Country performed at DC9 Nightclub to a packed crowd. Spanning several genres and styles, their music filled the room and the band delighted the crowd with their verve and whimsical sound.
If wondering what an experimental pop collective is, you are not alone. Lead vocalist, guitarist and synthesist Andrew Grossman invented the term to describe their one-of-a-kind musical style.
“My goal for The North Country is to be entertainment with ideas,” Grossman says. “I want the music to be inviting, fun and accessible, but to also play around with more interesting musical or lyrical ideas.”
Each song performed lived up to Grossman’s intent. The band’s lyrics, which Grossman writes, often dip into existential dread or poke fun at society — but then are buoyed by bright, mystical music and synthesized flourishes. Their song, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job,” perfectly captures their compositional balance.
“I find my lyrics are best when I don’t try to make them into anything,” Grossman explains. “But rather get out of my own way and just write; not try to sound like anyone, but just let myself be myself.”
Grossman finds inspiration from a range of artists from different genres and decades, including St. Vincent, Solange, Beethoven, Radiohead, Japanese Breakfast and Fleetwood Mac — to name a few. The North Country’s most recent album, “America and Afterwards,” pays homage to multiple musical influences and results in no two songs sounding alike.
Prior to Covid shutdowns in 2020, The North Country prepared for a big release of “America and Afterwards,” after playing several successful single-release shows up and down the Mid-Atlantic. They were also set for a three-week tour leading up to performing at SXSW Festival. Then the pandemic hit.
“Covid forced us to cancel the whole tour and lockdown two days before we were set to leave,” Grossman says. “We were all heartbroken.”
But the lockdown cancellations created new opportunities for the band, whose members live in both D.C. and Philadelphia. Along with Grossman, the band consists of multiple multi-talented individuals, including Jon Harmon (guitar, electronics), Kirk Kubicek (drums), Margot MacDonald (vocals, loops), Laurel Halsey (keys, vocals) and Austin Blanton (bass, vocals).
“The whole experience bonded us together,” Grossman recalls. “We still had all this pent-up creative energy, and it just put us into new modes of collaborating. We ended up making this really cool collaborative lockdown record, written and recorded entirely remotely from our homes.”
The upcoming release of the lockdown album — which Grossman excitedly hints sounds nothing like what they’ve done before — is currently being discussed with several labels.
As for returning back on stage, Grossman along with his bandmates are excited to perform live to audiences once more.
“I loved just being around people — which I suppose is somewhat of an odd statement for an introvert like me — but it’s true. I missed seeing my bandmates in person and rehearsing. I missed seeing our fans from the stage. Just being in the room when music is happening is such a special and magical thing.”
Listen to The North Country’s music on multiple streaming platforms, including Spotify. They will be performing next in Brooklyn at Gold Sounds on November 20. To learn more about The North Country and their upcoming performances and album, visit thenorthcountrymusic.com // @thenorthcountry
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