INTERVIEW: A CLOUD with a Silver Lining
by Jennifer K Johnson


Meet CLOUD, a unique trio melding their exceptional talents into something truly beautiful. The group consist of three individuals: James Vadner, Ashley Bergquist, and Ryan Smith. The Minneapolis locals sat down with SIMshows and talked name, inspiration, and dreams.

How did you come up with your name? 

James: Well, I came up with it because of Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy. It actually started two years ago because I was going from Oblivion to CLOUD. I just wanted to be under that name because I liked that name more…and I was a huge fan of Final Fantasy.

At the same time, Ryan and I had Space Robot Project, which is what it was called. And then after a year of doing different styles of music, I wanted to incorporate everything under one name…At first it was Ashley and I as CLOUD, and then Space Robot Project was Ryan and I. I thought it would be better and less stressful to just combine everything under one [group]. So we kept the CLOUD name.

Your group is a bit unique, having the three of you versus two or one. Each of you must bring something to the table. What are your “roles” in the group?

James: Ryan and I make all the music. We’ll sit there and bounce these ideas off one another. We’ll make stuff solo, and then we’ll just show each other what we started, and go off that…if we even like the song.

Ashley: James will produce something and send it to me; I’ll listen to it over and over until an idea for vocals pops into my head. Usually it’s easier for me to hear a melody or verse before actually putting words to it. But we’ve also been able to flip flop roles, like with our song “Scream” I wrote it on my keyboard and sent it to James and said “Hey, make something cool out of this.”

You guys don’t just DJ, but you produce tracks, too. What’s more difficult, producing or DJing?

James: I think producing original tunes is harder. It takes a lot more time, and you have to come up with everything on your own. And with DJing, you’re just playing music. There are technical things that are hard with DJing, like beat juggling and scratching…trying to use DJing as an instrument is hard. But I still think producing original tracks is harder because you have to come up with everything on your own.

Ryan: I guess it really depends. Sometimes music comes out like nothing. Other times it’s difficult. You can probably DJ without thinking about it, but yeah we’ve been playing mostly our own music.

How do you find inspiration on an original track? It’s gotta be hard making something new and exciting that no one’s heard before!

James: I try to choose a good portion of the day to just sit down and start writing stuff. And basically, you can either get inspiration wherever you are if you just think of a melody, or something cool. Then you quickly write it down and save it for later…that’s what I do. Inspiration can come from other people or tracks. Like you’ll hear a track, and you’ll think in your head “Oh maybe it’d sound cooler if I did it my own way” …there’s a lot of different things. What do you think, Ryan?

Ryan: Yeah, pretty much the same…Though sometimes I just mindlessly hit my keyboard for hours on end, and record it.

What is the best part about playing live?

James: My favorite part is when we play stuff we made, and people are enjoying it.

Ashley: It’s always a good feeling when the crowd reacts to the live vocals, either they are going to love it or hate it, and so far they’ve reacted in a positive way.

What is your ultimate dream situation? Open for anyone, play for anyone, play at any festival?

James: If there’s any festival I would like to be booked for, it would probably be EDC Las Vegas.

Ryan: Playing somewhere warm at least once a month would be awesome.

Ashley: I was lucky enough to go to Holy Ship this year (edm festival on a cruise ship) I would consider playing on that the ultimate honor.

Growing up as a kid, I assume you went to some shows. Was there one that stood out to you as some monumental, life-changing show? In other words, the best show you ever went to? Something that made you go “Hey, I want to do this!”

James: I have one of those… My first show that I probably had the best time was called Bipolar, and that was thrown by Ryan’s crew at the time. And that was what inspired me to do everything that we do now.

Ryan: It was Platypus live…I think it was in St. Cloud back in the 90s. That was a pretty incredible night.

Now, in one word, some up CLOUD with one word.

James: Different


These three really are brilliant. Just check out their latest track, “World At War”!

It’s good, right? Check out more at their SoundCloud page, and don’t miss your chance to see them open for Benny Benassi at Skyway Theater this Friday! Get your tickets here. You do NOT want to miss this show!