Local band Hyena forges its own path to success
By Logan Broyles | Downtown News
From the very beginning, Michael Cooper and Bryan Stratman have always done things their own way. They tried their hand at playing with more traditional bands, but felt bogged down by so many voices in the creative process.
Instead they have left the beaten path with their band Hyena, a dance-centric, electro-indie hybrid that’s been making the rounds at various local clubs for the last two years.
It’s rare to see musicians manning instruments and mixers at the same time, combining advanced sound equipment with the raw energy generated by a real band jamming on the spot, rather than just spinning premade recordings.
Stratman works his mixing equipment like a man possessed and Cooper lays down steady beats on the drums, while they both belt out auto-tune enhanced vocals.
“When we play a show we’re just like machines out there,” said Cooper. “Between me drumming and singing and looping and programming, and him singing and playing bass and mixing everything, we’re always moving and there’s no downtime.”
Cooper and Stratman both grew up with music and started playing instruments at an early age. Both have bounced around in rock and indie bands since their teens, including Cooper’s stint as the drummer of TRANSFER.
Together, the multi-talented musicians mix and mash their instrumentals to create a unique style of music that blends the eighties pop of their childhood with the more modern DJ revolution era of dance music.
“Basically what it comes down to is I love women and women love dance music,” Cooper said, only half-joking. “It all started when I began going to parties with local DJs like Gabe Vega and Adam Salter and realized that people just want to dance and have fun. Being reflective and writing sad Country songs is cool but I’ve done it for so long that I want to do something fun with more of a party vibe,” he said.
The duo first met in 2009 when Cooper was brought in to play drums for a band that was recording at Stratman’s recording studio, Capricorn Studios in the East Village. Having access to their own recording studio has given them a level of creative freedom that few bands get to enjoy.
“Having played in bands since I was fifteen years old I know how rare this is. I do not miss being in a band with three or four other guys at all,” said Cooper. “It’s so much easier to get your input into the creative process when it’s just the two of us with our own studio to jam in. With me and Bryan [Stratman], it takes one phone call to make a decision and we both get to take the lead and make the music that we want to,” Cooper said.
After starting out in the indie rock world, neither one had much of a background in electro music before their latest project, but they’ve come a long way in a short time. They have opened for some top DJs and bands, including MGMT, Felix the Housecat, Classics, Diplo, and The Bravery, and the duo just wrapped up a show with LMFAO.
Bigger things are happening this year, with a new record coming out locally in March and globally this summer, coinciding with Hyena’s world tour.
“We’re picking a few markets around the world that we want to attack,” Cooper said, adding, “We’re going to have a huge release for the new record and then go on a global tour in some of those markets. Touring is what we want to do because it’s the best way to get our music out there and get new fans.”
Hyena will be playing at the Guesthouse at Stingaree on Monday, Feb. 6 and at the Casbah on Feb. 23. They also have regular residencies at Fluxx Nightclub in the Gaslamp.