Grand Forks-based band, Project : Constellation, hits the road with new music
Husband and wife duo Project : Constellation, made up of Christina and Santiago Silva, released a new EP, titled Psychological Hands on Jan. 3 and has already hit the road with their new music, playing shows in South Dakota and Nebraska.
GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks folk punk band Project : Constellation is back on the local scene with new music and a handful of shows across the Midwest.
The husband and wife duo of Christina and Santiago Silva released a new EP, titled "Psychological Hands," on Jan. 3 and has hit the road with their new music, playing shows in South Dakota and Nebraska.
The Silvas describe "Psychological Hands" as their most high-energy album yet, with sounds influenced by bands like Blink 182 and Sum 41. The EP was written and recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic. One song, titled "Toilet Paperpocalypse," was inspired by Christina’s experience working in a grocery store early in the pandemic, when toilet paper supplies were stretched thin.
“Santiago writes most of our songs, so it takes me forever to do any, but this one came out easily because I work at a grocery store,” said Christina.
Pre-pandemic, Project : Constellation toured around the country, and even had some international opportunities, like a trip to Georgia (the country) in 2019 .
“Since everything shut down in the rest of the world, we’ve mostly been in the Midwest,” said Santiago. “We used to go to Canada, and in 2020 we would have gone all over the country, but they all got canceled.”
Touring is how the band makes money. Project : Constellation is registered as a business in North Dakota, which makes keeping track of finances easier, says Christina. Most venues have set rates they pay bands to play, and the Silvas also sell Project : Constellation merchandise.
“It does play for itself pretty well,” said Christina.
Most of the band’s profit comes from playing shows and selling merchandise at the shows. Project : Constellation is on Spotify and other online streaming services, but Santiago says live performances make up 90% of the band’s income.
“We haven’t done good when it comes to all the online and streaming, plus it got saturated really quickly during the pandemic,” said Santiago.
When touring was extremely restricted early in the pandemic, the band found other streams of income. Christina is an artist and writer. In 2021, her fantasy book “ The Chronicles of Soraya Thenayu: Darkwood Academy ,” posted on Wattpad, a website where writers can share their work with readers, gained popularity and was on the shortlist for the website’s annual awards.
She sells artwork through commissions, and many customers are from the writing community she has found through Wattpad.
“That was part of how I kept the business alive,” said Christina. “Our shows were canceled, but this still counts as art and I tied that back in.”
Christina still takes commissions, but not as many since venues have opened up for shows. Now, the Silvas are back in their comfort zone — in person, talking with people.
“To use old-school business terms, the vacuum cleaner salesman approach is still the best,” said Santiago. “I think when you can see the product and the band speaks a lot more than 40 ads on whatever social media du jour.”
Project : Constellation has a number of shows planned across the Midwest over the next few months, including three dates in Grand Forks. On Feb. 5, the Silvas are playing at Empire Arts Center. Then, on Feb. 22, they will be playing at Urban Stampede and on March 25 at Archives Coffee. All shows are posted as events on the Project : Constellation Facebook page.