As the dust of Canadian Music Week settles, Montreal’s unique brand of shoegaze and psychedelia departs town in the form of Suuns. Releasing their first LP, Zeroes QC, back in 2011, they’ve been looked to for an equally eclectic mix of electronic and rock sounds in their follow-up. On March 4, Suuns released Images du Futur, their most accomplished effort, produced by Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes. With a spray of noise rock laid out across their expanse of hypnotic rhythms and murky vocals, Suuns remained a band capable of keeping control of their sound, no matter how chaotic, in forming one of the critical Canadian releases this year.
I managed to catch up with Joseph Yarmush, Suuns’ guitarist, as he navigated the frantic streets of Montreal, before heading to Toronto. He discussed the nature of the band’s unique sound, enlightened me on some of the noises sprawled across the new album, and recalled the story of the band’s harrowing encounter in the Portugal club scene.
Anthony Boire: Coming into Images du Futur after Zeroes QC, how did you change your songwriting?
Joe Yarmush: A little bit, I guess. I think it all just got a little bit better. All those songs [on Zeroes QC], they were kind of roadtested, before we had recorded them. So we had been playing them a lot live. So we kind of knew them inside and out. With Images, we basically started from scratch. We recorded a bunch of songs that had never been played live. It’s just a different thing. You’re not really sure, what will work, and what won’t. It’s tiring, because you’re just in there for hours making sure everything sounds the way you want it to.
Anthony: How did you come up with the riff in “2020″? It’s got some noise elements but somehow definitely gets stuck in your head.
Joe: That one wasn’t me, but if you’re just playing one note on the bass you’re pretty free to do anything. [Laughs] I mean, I was doing a lot of slide. Like on “Pie IX”, live I always used a slide even though on the album we didn’t. Originally it was called “Son of Pie IX”, I think. That was the working title [for "2020"].
André Allen Anjos, aka RAC, has made a name for himself by creating some of the most evocative and creative remixes in the music world. Each remix he puts out masterfully grasps the most important aspects of the original song, all the while giving it an entirely fresh and fluid sound. It makes sense, then, that Anjos is finally venturing into the realm of original content, the first taste of which is his debut single ‘Hollywood’. The song, which features vocals from Penguin Prison’s Chris Glover, was a seamless evolution from the remixes RAC has been making for the past several years, taking those experiences and applying it to a made-from-scratch song. The result is an incredibly catchy and wholly indelible piece of music, one that, from start to finish, is tirelessly enjoyable and simply fun to listen to.
During his recent tour, RAC made a stop in Vancouver, performing at the city’s famous Waldorf Hotel. Before the show, Adrian McCavour of Some Kind of Awesome and I had the opportunity to chat with Anjos about all things RAC: his approach to remixes, how he has applied that to original content, his singing abilities, and future releases.
Adrian McCavour: Each remix you put out, carries the intent of the original song, but takes it to a whole new level with a more fluid sound. What approach do you take when creating a remix?
André Allen Anjos: With the remix, it’s kind of like writing a new song. I know that people don’t perceive it that way, or people don’t think anything is original, but it’s kind of like taking out what makes it that song – whether its structure, or a hook, or one of the main things – and then building around that. It’s really about what’s important in that song, and changing the rest, because the rest is irrelevant and interchangeable. That’s kinda what it is, on a practical level it is a lot of time just listening to the song and figuring out what’s important.
Alec Ross: When making a song on your own, is the approach more difficult? Is there anything different in the process?
André: The only real difference is how much pressure I put on myself, because with remixes, normally you’re working with ridiculous deadlines and a lot of the times you just wing it. Sometimes it’s kind of crazy to have a remix I listen to and think “Oh man I wish I had more time for that”, but it doesn’t work out that way. With this it was different because I had all the time in the world and I didn’t have deadlines and I could do whatever I wanted. It was really fun, it was just more pressure on myself. Working with Chris [Glover] was great, that was the easiest part of it.
Welsh septet Los Campesinos! are currently on the North American leg of their tour in support of their fourth album, Hello Sadness. Intrepid Ca Va Cool correspondent Kevin Kania caught up with guitarist Neil Campesinos! before their show at London Music Hall in London, Ontario to discuss growing up with fans, destination recording, and the pains of making a music video.
Kevin: You played Letterman last week, was that your network TV debut?
Neil Campesinos!: We played a show in Los Angeles a few years ago and they filmed it for Carson Daly, but that’s not as big a deal, is it? [With Letterman] we were absolutely petrified, it was without a doubt kind of like a highlight, felt like a big deal, we were just so nervous, you load in, rehearse in the morning, go away, and then you come back ten minutes before you’re on, and then all of a sudden, “and here’s Los Campesinos!” you play, and it’s all over in a flash. I was just shaking for the whole thing with no recollection. It was surreal. It just flew by, it was crazy.
Kevin: Gareth made some comment to Dave, I didn’t quite catch it.
Neil: He had a scarf on the stage for a sports team called the Welton Rovers, and David Letterman was like, “Oh, Football!” and Gareth’s like, “Well, soccer.” David said that was a little condescending. It was all in good spirits.
Kevin: Football does seem to be of huge importance in your songs.
Neil: We actually really wanted to get a foam ball for venues like this. They’re amazing to play in.
Tags: Los Campesinos!
It’s been a busy few years for Hey Rosetta!, Newfoundland’s premier indie music export. They’ve become a fixture on the Polaris Prize shortlist and toured their ambitious Can-rock virtually non-stop, though judging by their multiple sellout crowds at the cavernous Phoenix in Toronto this week, the country is still in the mood to hear more. In that spirit, I joined frontman Tim Baker and cellist/guitarist/utility outfielder Romesh Thavanathan on one of the band’s rare days off for a traditional Toronto burrito lunch. Read on if you’ve ever wondered about the hidden gems of the St. John’s music scene, or how to start a rock band without owning an electric guitar, or what kind of burrito a true Newfoundlander enjoys.
Josh: First things first. What kind of burritos did you get, and why?
Romesh Thavanathan: I got the large halibut, because I’m a baller.
Tim Baker: I got the small halibut, because I’m not a baller, or at least less of a baller.
Josh: With a couple days off in Toronto before your next show, what are you getting up to?
Both: Recovery. [Laughs]
Tim: It’s been a long run and a long time since we’ve had any days off. I think the last time we had a few was a month and a half ago, when we got to Australia.
Tags: Hey Rosetta!
Who are Library Voices? They are a seven-piece pop group from Saskatchewan whose new album Summer of Lust should be popping up on a number of Best of 2011 lists. They are fun-loving literary types who will probably kick your ass at shot chess. They write with one foot in the 1960s and the other in the not-too-distant future. In short, they’re a bit like Vampire Weekend, except that they’re Canadian and don’t give you a mild urge to punch them in the face.
As they endeavour to spread their name (memorably misremembered by a friend-of-a-friend as “The Shushing Librarians”), the live act should help. Library Voices bring serious weapons-grade energy to every show. Eoin Hickey-Cameron (above: top centre), for example, isn’t a bassist out of Central Casting lurking in the corner in a hoodie. He’ll jump up on a monitor or kick drum, get soaked with sweat by the end of the third song, trade stupid faces with the sax player, flop his hair back and forth like a really gross shampoo commercial—and there are seven of these guys. The notoriously dance-averse Horseshoe crowd at their recent Toronto show even showed moments of bopping and swaying, if not, you know, actual dancing.
I sat down with 28.6% of the band, namely songwriter/synth player Mike Dawson and guitarist Brennan Ross (above: far right and far left, respectively), to talk about audiobooks and how to get kicked out of one’s apartment.
Josh: How’s the tour been so far?
Brennan Ross: It’s great. It’s hard to really tell when it started—it’s been sort of perpetually going on. We went out to Victoria and Halifax and back, we’re starting to go into the States.
Josh: How do you find it touring in the States as a Canadian band?
Mike Dawson: It’s sort of like starting over. We’ve been feeling really well accepted when we meet people down there, when they discover our band, but people aren’t aware. In Canada people are a little spoiled because having access to bands from the States is second nature. They might as well be from down the road. It’s not the case the other way round—because there are so many incredible bands in the States, they’re not always so aware of what’s going on in Canada. So in that capacity it sort of feels like a first tour sometimes, building crowds and meeting people, sleeping on the floor at the sound guy’s house. With his six roommates. But it’s awesome. It helps you keep yourself in check.
Tags: Library Voices