When did you realise that your project/band had the potential to be a career, or long-lasting idea?
I don’t know if it’s fair to say there was ever a realization. I think I’ve just chosen to keep going. I was in bands for years, it’s a lot of fun but it’s a totally different dynamic when you have to work together with other passionate people. As a solo artist I feel its a lot easier to invest what I need to and when. I can work on my music as much or as little as I like and the only person it affects is me; I think that’ll add a lot of longevity to this project.
When did the first glimpses of your latest release come together?
I’m fortunate to work with a really excellent producer in Vancouver named Braeden Rangno. One of the things that makes working with him so great is that he treats my music as if it were his own. He doesn’t just do the work, he uses his skills in the studio to add to the creation in incredible ways I would never have even considered. My recent release, The New Queen, was in a great state when I sent him the stems. But when he sent back that first draft my jaw hit the floor. What he had done with it was incredible. The creative use of delays, effects, unpredictable but cool mixing choices really made the production pop. It was immediately clear what the final product would be and was extremely exciting.
What really inspires your music?
It has taken me quite a while to come to a description of the style of music I create. The best I have come up with so far is “Expressive Alternative”. Being a drummer by trade, rhythm and energy are usually the most important factors in good music for me; lyrics being a close second. I usually begin writing a new song with the drums or percussion to define a feel. From there I take time to think about all of the things that have been going on in my life that tend to otherwise be hard to express verbally; things I’ve been feeling, thinking about but maybe struggling to articulate… I then pick one of these ideas that I think fits the energy of the track I’ve put together so far. I build the rest of the instrumentation to fit the tone and timbre of the idea I’m trying to express. Finally, I then find lyrics that don’t describe the feeling I’m trying to express… but demonstrate it. I want each of my songs to be about something. A concrete idea that I can name but allows the listener to have their own experience with. For example, the first track of my recent album “Exit Conditions” is titled Wisdom. It is about the exchange that we all make: the time we have left on earth, for the experience we gain. It’s a sort of transaction we all make throughout our lives, but affects each of us differently. I want each listener to reflect on their own transactions: how it shaped them. The instrumentation underneath is driving yet jagged, much like the ups and downs of life.
Can you tell us a bit about the lyrical process for a song? How does it normally work?
Though I prefer to, I don’t always start with a concrete idea for the lyrics. Sometimes, (a lot of times I would say actually) it’s not until I have a pretty solid track put together that a sense of what the lyrics should be about start to percolate to the top. I’ll usually loop over my chorus and just wander around my studio humming/singing gibberish trying to find a good melody. As I hone in on one, words will start to fill the rhythm I’m playing with. As the words start to form I’ll start to put them together to try to express some concrete idea that’s been sitting in the back of the mind. It’s a very natural process that I think often results in pretty relatable lyrics that don’t feel forced. The downside is that sometimes the melody or lyrics just don’t materialize. I have a great track I’ve been stuck on for months because I just can’t find a good melody or lyric idea; so it’s a trade off.
What’s the most rewarding moment in your creative process as a band, and why?
Hearing other people sing along, especially if they don’t know you’re around. I was at a party, on a patio once. I overheard a girl on the other side of the deck mindlessly singing one of my songs. Nothing is more rewarding than that and I think of that moment often.
Who produces your music, and what are they like to work with? (If you produce the music yourself, what do you love the most about working that way?)
I went through a few producers until I was introduced to Braeden Rangno of Vancouver, as I mentioned before. I can’t sing his praises enough. Some producers just do the work without any personal investment. Braeden is different. Every track he works on he treats as his own. He doesn’t step on your toes as an artist. He takes what you’ve done so far, figures out what you’re trying to achieve and amplifies it multiple times over.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your live show? Particular memories that stand out to you?
I’m not performing at the moment, I’m focused on working on writing and recording for now, but I used to do the festival circuit a lot in western Canada. Anyone who’s done it will tell you two things. One, it doesn’t matter who you are, you sometimes get scheduled terrible times on terrible stages. It’ll be raining, no one will be there to watch/listen… things happen. Second, some of the best friends you meet are other artists camping in the artist section alongside you. There is no better feeling than having one of those terrible sets and seeing that one guy you met around the fire the night before dutifully supporting you. That sort of comradery is often hard to find in the music business but for some reason the festival atmosphere seems to generate it; which is why small festivals will always be my favorite stage to be on.