Sam Axelrod (’16), who is often in the library’s quiet room during the school week when he is not in class, can also be found moonlighting in Brooklyn band Future of What, which recently put out their first album on Jan. 13. Pro Dreams, which debuted at #61 on the CMJ top 200, was streamed before its release on Consequence of Sound. Now, it is available on their Bandcamp, Spotify, and iTunes.
Future of What is a trio comprised of Axelrod, Blair Gimma, and Max Kotelchuck, who have been performing together since 2012. Their sound is somewhere between dream pop, synth pop, and electro pop. When asked to describe it to someone who is both blind and deaf, Axelrod hesitatingly said the band tasted like “mango sorbet” or “maybe a piña colada.” The press release for Pro Dreams says the album is “for daytime and nighttime. It’s a makeout record and a breakup record. It’s headphone music for a walk or a train ride. It’s a getting-ready-for-work album as much as a getting-ready-to-go-out record. Casual enough to listen to while cleaning the house, yet emotional enough to die to.”
Axelrod, who commutes to Sarah Lawrence from Brooklyn three times a week, came to SLC through the Center of Continuing Education in January of 2012. Axelrod says, “2011 was the first year in my life I wasn’t playing in a band since about the mid-nineties.” Axelrod met Gimma through mutual friends after having liked her solo album from 2010, Die Young, which she made under the eponymously titled project, Blair. Kotelchuck, whom Axelrod knew through his sister, joined what was slowly becoming a group project soon after.
Axelrod was previously in Chicago-based band The Narrator from 2002 until 2008. The two albums The Narrator put out, All That To The Wall (2007) and Such Triumph (2005), scored a 7.2 and a 7.5 on Pitchfork respectively.
Axelrod says it was “the right time” to come to SLC in 2012. “I had been encouraged to check out the continuing education program. I wasn’t thinking like, ‘I am going back to school.’ I just was going to try it, so I went to the orientation in November, and by January I was enrolled in classes. It was right at the same time I started playing in Future of What.”
Though he takes primarily writing classes, Axelrod has also taken literature classes, history classes, and psychology classes. Pro Dreams’ opener, “The Rainbowed Air” is named after a line from Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. “I tried to read Moby-Dick in 2007 when I was on tour in Japan with [The Narrator] and I just couldn’t get through it. I took a summer class with Ilja Wachs in CCE and I read Moby-Dick for conference.” Axelrod says he is more of a stickler for song titles than his bandmates. “Songs go through various stages,” says Axelrod. “Some songs get names before they even necessarily deserve one. That can go on to dictate the lyrics or the vibe of the song.”
Future of What also struggled to come up with a band name while recording their 2012 EP Moonstruck, very shortly after they had started playing. Axelrod says, “We couldn’t agree on anything and I was sitting there in the studio going through my iPod, looking for words and phrases I liked. I gave the ones I picked out to Blair, and Future of What was the one we picked.”
Though they have a Blue Room show in the works, Future of What has played SLC before. In 2013, they played 4/20 Fest to “five people” on the South Lawn. “It was supposed to be on the North Lawn,” Axelrod explains, “but it was moved under a tent on the South Lawn because it was supposed to rain. But it turned out to be 72 and sunny and everyone hung out on the North Lawn and would only walk over when their friends played. We had no friends.”
Future of What are expecting a bigger crowd at their album release party, which will be Feb. 8 at Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.