“This music is our heart and soul”
It all started with a little bit of Hall & Oates. Tyler sat at the keyboard and played the chords to “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”. Noah’s face lit up immediately with excitement. “I’ve wanted to jam this forever” he said. “Dude, this is happening.” That was it, so they say. Three weeks later over 20 songs had been written. One of the very first of these was ‘1979’, a throwback to the days when disco was king. Boyd waxes on its conception: “On this record that song, along with California, I think really says what we are all about. It’s funky, simple, and infinitely danceable. It’s got this larger than life hook that will bounce between your ears until the sun comes up, and it’s just so much fun to sing.” The track also contains deeper elements that one can’t help but be drawn in by; complex harmonies, perfectly executed transitions, and layer upon layer of beautiful sounds that seem to never end.
It’s late January of 2016 — four months have passed since Boyd and Monckton wrote their first verse. ‘Liftoff EP’ is in the final stages of post-production as the world awaits its release with great anticipation. “We’re so incredibly thrilled to finally unleash our precious grooves upon the Earth” says Monckton. “I am endlessly proud of this record. The pleasure I experience listening to — and living — these songs simply cannot be matched.” Who can disagree? Certainly not Quinn Bates, the superlatively talented crooner who contributes a powerful soul-laden lead vocal to ‘Run to You’. The dance-pop ballad, fused around a staggering synth riff, is the record’s second track. “Working with Quinn was a great honour. It’s as if somebody took Beyoncé and put her into the body of a ecstatically jovial young man. His voice is just incredible, and I’m pleased beyond words with his contribution; it totally makes the track.” said Boyd.
While Boyd and Monckton work together extensively in their creative process, occasionally one will compose a song entirely on his own, providing a distilled insight into the individual forces that make this duo so special. Enter ‘Broadway Boogie’. Beginning with a “call to dance” as Boyd says, it quickly jumps into a nu-disco foot stomper. “Broadway is a great crossover piece, for me personally. I started out making electronic music in the vein of modern day greats like Justice, Sebastian, Breakbot — Ed Banger guys. The track is a freight train from that past which heads full speed into the pop, funk, soul, and disco influences that I have found my way to now.” Tenor Saxophonist Andrew Greenwood features heavily on the latter portion of the track, hammering out a massive post chorus riff which erupts shortly into a full blown ‘hot sax’ solo. “While this one is Tyler’s baby,” said Monckton, “it’s Andrew who really locks it up. This track is like drugs. It just takes you somewhere else.”
As a young man growing up on the wet and more often than not dreary west coast of Canada, Boyd couldn’t help but dream of a brighter world somewhere south of the border. With all the hopelessly perfect romanticism Hollywood injects into us of the Sunshine State, how could he not? ‘California’, the closing track of ‘Liftoff EP’, explores the fantasy of actualizing this dream. Centered around an earth shaking hook-in-itself baseline and mirrored guitar that somehow manage to restrain themselves during its verses, it explodes into a massive chorus of the songs title. “California, like 1979, is what we’re all about. It’s endlessly groovy, with a tight verse and a huge chorus. That’s us in one sentence.” says Boyd. “It’s also a perfect example of our process. The verse bass line was all Noah; the best I have heard him play yet. I took it home and wrote the chorus and hook. Fast forward a week of production and we have this monster on our hands. I’m so proud of it. It’s enormous.” The chorus features a string counter-melody which channels the romantic flavour of Europe’s disco heyday. The group worked with violinist Brittany Iwanciwski for three of the records four tracks. Monckton said of her collaboration “Having live strings on the record is so important. Although we have electronic and synthesized elements in our sound, we knew when we had to keep it old school with live instruments. We did a three hour session with Brittany and she killed it. We were simply blown away by her work.” One thing is for sure; this track will be a mainstay of every happening playlist this summer.
What’s next for Airliners? “Live shows” says Monckton. Almost in tandem Boyd overlays “More records.” The two exchange a silent glance before bursting out in laughter. “I love making records” says Boyd. “Noah loves making them too, but he’s a performer through and through; he has to perform in order to come back and be creative and productive. I’m a producer at heart, so it’ll be an interesting road forward balancing our priorities. I’m definitely excited to get up on stage and belt out these songs. I can’t wait to see how people react to what we’re doing.” Even the most sublime of harmonies occasionally hit sour notes. Working through them is part of growing as individuals and partners, says Monckton. “For me, and I think for Tyler too, we really just want to get out there in the world and see what we can do.” Boyd nods in agreement. “We’re young and we believe in ourselves. This is what we want to do, and we do it because we don’t have a choice. We have to share our love and our art with everybody, everywhere.” They both seem to wear a look of eager hopefulness that yearns to someday morph into one of earnest satisfaction. The future looks bright for Airliners. With Liftoff approaching, let’s hope it’s blue skies for this emerging young duo.