Harrison Fjord are one of my favorite bands right now. Dripping with psychedelic flair, each song they make is danceable, singable, and absolutely groovable. In fact, I have yet to hear a track from them that wouldn’t make Sly Stone smile. Formed in the mystic realm of Arizona, the band has been uploading a series of live performances to Youtube. Their latest? The rip roaring jazz bop “Viewmaster.”

I got to talk with Mario Robert Yniguez, singer and guitarist of the group, asking his thoughts on the future of the band, his favorite artists, and how Harrison Fjord came together. For me, his answers show how much he cares about this band.

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HG: Tell me about Chandler, Arizona. Does your environment influence your music in anyway?

MRY: Chandler is kind of a lot of things. There’s old money, new money, tons of cultural difference. Even just door to door really. It’s totally played a role in our music directly because of the music education programs in the Chandler unified school district. Its definitely how most of the members of the band got started. Even so, downtown Phoenix and Tempe, cities that have more lively music scenes, are really just next door. I think we’re based out of the perfect place right now.

 

HG: Your band is one of my favorite projects in years. Tell me about the first days you all jammed together. Around what time did the band fully develop into the powerhouse it is?

MRY: Wow, thank you so much. So actually, in the music programs I mentioned earlier is when most of us first met. So Taylor (guitar), Jon (bass), Matt (drums), and I have been playing together since junior high jazz band. But everyone was well involved in their own projects. Matt and Taylor and I were in a band called reggae ska-punk kind of thing called Two Verse. Jon fronted a couple different hardcore bands himself before we started hanging out and decided he should play bass (laughs). But then in high school, we all sang in choir together, we all sang barbershop together and getting close through all that is really what prompted us to collaborate musically. I put the group together just calling everyone up and then we played a little show together. Jacob Lipp our sax player came along a little bit later but he went to the same school as us and still is a senior right now! (laughs). We’ve just been going hard since.

 

HG: The “Approximately 906 Miles” performed at the Mogollon Rim reminds me a lot of Pink Floyd in Pompeii. Whose idea was it and what are your favorite memories from the shoot.

MRY: The whole thing was kind of a crazy idea of Freddie Paull’s (our videographer/photographer and manager.), who I believe is an absolute genius, he LOVES Live at Pompeii and would be flattered to hear you say that (laughs). We had a massive camping party the night after we shot and that was so much fun. I really loved playing all day on the cliff side, the acoustic quality of a 500 million year old cliff side beats my room any day. It was so hectic cause it was almost gonna rain all day and we weren’t even sure if we’d get to shoot. It was a blast though. 
HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.
MRY: I have had a ham breakfast burrito almost every breakfast of my life, so honestly I’m always content with that. But I definitely get down on quirky artisan breakfasts.

HG: Harrison Fjord has a great mix of jazz grooves and psychedelic rock. You guys love The Beatles, Snarky Puppy, Pink Floyd and so on. Are there any covers in your set lists? If not, who would you love to play live?

MRY: Coincidentally, we’ve wanted to cover Frank Ocean for a long time but I mean Dirty Projectors, Hiatus Kaiyote, Debussy… man there’s so much we want to get into.

 

HG: Why do you think it is taking Frank Ocean so long to finish his damn album?

MRY: Kevin (keys) woke up every day for a straight month after July and googled “Frank Ocean new album” (laughs). It’s been a sore subject for all of us.

 

HG: Where do you see the band going in the future? Your getting bigger by the minute on Spotify.

MRY: A full length record is absolutely on everyone’s mind, but it’ll be a little bit. One of my biggest goals is to leave the country to play. A Eurotour is such an exciting idea. But honestly, we’re just rolling with wherever opportunity takes us. It was awesome to see our hometown get knocked off the spotify chart. Most of our listeners our in New York which is mind blowing.

 

HG: (Tell me about making this video. What was the process like?

MRY: “Viewmaster” is definitely us heading into our more psychedelic realm and we got the appropriate crew together I feel. It was a chaotic blast of just hanging out and recording, eating posole. You learn a lot about peoples’ patience when you shoot the same one take video ten times in a row (laughs). We would take 5 in between takes or sometime no break at all just to keep momentum flowing. I really like working in positions like that. it’s just fun to be under pressure but at the same time, it’s just playing music so it’s not really pressure? It feels natural for everyone.

HG: Tell me how you got into singing. How long have you been singing for?

MRY: I started singing in this cover band in 7th grade. By high school I’d joined choir with everyone and really started to venture into voice with the help of our director Lori Lyford who is a barbershop hero of sorts (check out the Scottsdale Chorus). So she inspired everyone to really go hard on harmony and musicality in all honesty. I’ve been studying privately though for 4 years-ish and now in college. I teach voice now and direct a young men’s Acapella chorus called Sounds of the Mouth that many of the guys in the band are in. It’s a huge part of who we are.

 

HG: How did it feel to see so many first-time listeners love your music on Reddit?

MRY: That was the most redeeming and intense experience. I was looking at the views on our video one morning just go up by a few thousand every ten minutes and we just had no idea what was going on. It was thoroughly validating to hear what people had to say about it. Especially because most of them didn’t know A) it was the first song we’d ever written and B) that all our other music sounds pretty different. I believe it was a really interesting sampling for everyone to see.

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