We had a great opportunity to send a quick email interview with our current obsession of the year(if you couldn’t tell) Young Galaxy. They’re currently on tour with Austra and are giving away the remixes they’ve done for bands such as Junior Boys, Austra, The Sounds, CFCF, and many more for free here. I suggest you download it and listen during the reading, some really great stuff here. They are rereleasing their epic ‘Shapeshifting’ album on December 13th, go get it if you haven’t yet!
Hi Guys! Such an honor to get to interview you as I’ve been incredibly obsessed with Shapeshifting for the past few months. First off can you introduce us to the band members and let us know which role they have in Young Galaxy?
Stephen Ramsay – guitar, keys, vox
Catherine McCandless – keys, vox
Stephen Kamp – bass, vox
Matt Shapiro – guitars, keys, vox
Andrea Silver – drums
What I really love about you guys is that your sound is very modern yet familiar. I hear an influence by progressive music from the 70′s and 80′s that has been incredibly overlooked by the media as important. Am I wrong in seeing this connection? What are some bands that you feel are under appreciated that deserve more love?
Why thank you. I think you’re absolutely right, but I’m kind of surprised when anyone picks up on it. For instance, we really love krautrock – bands like Neu, Can, Cluster, Ash Ra Tempel and Kraftwerk really opened our minds musically. Though they were lumped together because they were German bands, they were quite diverse musically. What ties it all together is a sense of experimentation that really appeals to me, but with Kraftwerk for instance, there was this incredible precision and attention to detail too. They heavily influenced people like Eno, Bowie and David Byrne, who are so influential today – it’s hard to call those guys under appreciated!
There are bands like Aphrodite’s Child, Vangelis’ first band, who were very heavy, largely unknown know and have this epic, progressive, almost mystical sound that also betrayed some great tunes (check out ‘The Four Horsemen’). Lately I’m loving the mutant disco and psychedelic dance music from the 70′s and 80′s. Arthur Russell, the 70′s/80′s avant-disco figurehead is currently a big influence on me. I tend to listen to a lot of music that pushes the envelop sonically from within the pop and dance format for inspiration.
Rest of interview
Tell us about the album Shapeshifting, what inspired it and what was the process like writing it.
As Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips put it, the reason ‘The Soft Bulletin’ happened is because hovering above abject failure meant they could do anything they wanted creatively… this is how we felt about the band at the time we were of Invisible Republic, our second album. We had gone out on a limb and released it ourselves, and we simply weren’t up to the task… that, coupled with the two years we waited between the debut and Invisible Republic, killed the momentum for us. We lost members, were broke, you name it… We needed a fresh start, new creative momentum to re-ignite the band. I had been listening to Studio, Dan Lissvik’s band, obsessively and really wanted to work with him so I reached out. The timing between us was good – he was wanting to try something new as well. The writing of the album was very fragmented, very computer based. We rarely worked together, we pieced it together over months in our spare time. We spent maybe 1 week in a ‘real’ studio because we had no money. Most of the ideas were worked out in our spare room at home. We kept wondering, ‘can we make this credible?’ But in the end we trusted it would be good mostly because our biggest goal was to make it sound different. That was literally the sole purpose of our agenda.
The album sounds like you could have a whole orchestra behind you, what instruments are on the album and how do you guys manage it live?
We used a ton of soft synths – a combination of artificial sounds and samples. I played very little guitar, which was always what I focused on previously on our albums. We manage it live in a very organic way. So many bands rely on backing tracks because their records are so computer based. Luckily for us, the band we have is the best live incarnation yet. We have real chemistry as players, so we let that dictate our live show rather than the backing tracks. This means the songs are interpretations a lot of the time, but what you lose in exact replications of the record, you gain in visceral, organic chemistry. I’ll take that any day, in my opinion…
You guys have been playing a lot of shows, and have a lot more coming up. Fill us in on a normal day on the road with you guys?
Having a good cry in the shower when no one’s around, followed by stealing a bottle of corn syrup from the motel kitchen for breakfast, followed by passing out from a sugar overdose in the van while driving, but miraculously waking up two hours later to find out you haven’t driven off the road, followed by more silent crying so the rest of the band doesn’t notice, followed by iPad Jeopardy!, followed by an iceberg lettuce salad covered in melted cheese, followed by driving in a snowstorm, followed by sound check, followed by looking at pictures of your friends’ cats on Facebook, followed by show, followed by eating a 1700 calorie ‘snack’ at 2 in the morning, followed by a shower with no water coming out of it at your former-seniors-care-facility-turned-motel, followed by getting into bed in your jeans and crying yourself silently to sleep. A pretty full day in anyone’s books, right??
What should one expect from one of your shows?
A cross between an episode of Game Of Thrones and Thanksgiving Night at your grandparents.
What is one of the best gigs you guys have played and tell us some of the details.
Honestly, they’re all important to me – touring is a luxury, not a given. But I suppose playing far from home and having people come to see you is extra special. Our recent show in Iceland was a highlight – we played Airwaves festival – foreign bands only get invited once, so you know the chances of going back to play are slim since it’s so isolated, and the entire country has only 300,000 people. You’d have to be national heroes to play there again really. It’s an incredible place, like stepping into a fairy tale on the moon…
What would be your guys dream tour?
Arcade Fire opening for us.
Now a more personal getting to know you, name a few of your:
Favorite bands currently
Rustic Italian, Indian
That new Rihanna song, expensive single malt whiskey and sneakers, celebrity gossip blogs.
Favorite holiday movies
A Christmas Carol (Alistair Sims version)
It’s A Wonderful Life
The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2)
December 1 – Toronto ON – The Phoenix Concert Theatre +
December 2 – Montreal QC – Cabaret du Mile End +
December 3 – Ottawa ON – Ritual Night Club +
December 4 – Waterloo ON – Starlight *
+ with Austra