Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
I live in Vancouver, BC, in a neighbourhood called Kitsilano. You get the impression that it’s where the hippies used to congregate, but now it’s a lot of athleisure stores and younger, upper-middle class families shopping for interesting glasses. Vancouver has a lot of isolated music scenes which makes for deeper genre exploration. The best band we have is called lié. There’s not many good venues, though, and when bands come from out of town it feels like they’re not having a great time.
What have you been working on recently?
I just made a music video with my friend Connor McGuire (connormcguire.com) that’ll be out now or very soon. I’m also working on the songs for a new record that I’m hoping to get out this year.
You’ve just released your new EP ‘Green’ what influenced the sound and songwriting for Green?
I tend to write songs with more impressionistic lyrics. Songwriters that trend towards ambiguity are typically more interesting to me, but I’m also deeply impressed by writers with strong themes and ideas that speak a little more clearly. I tried to navigate the line between those two types of songwriters. The sound of the record is an attempt to blend my more traditional folk and country guitar-based influences with the more experimental bands I love.
Where and when did you record?
I recorded the EP in my apartment from November 2018 and into the start of the new year. We had tenants move in upstairs not long before I started recording, and they argued all the time and left around the same time I finished the EP. You can hear their voices at the very end of “Fever Song” – they sound exasperated. They were positive about me making music in the building, though.
Who did you work with?
For the actual recording, writing, performing end of things I was by myself. I play all the instruments on the EP. Those aren’t real drums. Connor McGuire helped with the mastering and Adam de Souza (kumerish.com) did the art. They’re amazing and I want to work with them forever.
What instruments and programs did you use to record and produce Green?
Everything was done with just a couple microphones into my laptop running Pro Tools. I used a nice interface and tried to record everything as cleanly as I could while still trying to capture the spontaneity of “performing” in a recording environment. My primary instrument is the guitar and I think it acts as another voice on almost all my songs.
How did you go about recording and producing Green?
I would play the song into Garageband on my phone, then went about programming the drums in a way that sounded natural. I’d then take those drums and start layering bass and guitars in Pro Tools. Sometimes I would just take the guitar part from the phone recording because it sounded a little more wild or unrehearsed. It wasn’t the most efficient process, I admit. It was definitely fun.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I’m obsessed with the new record “Quiet Signs” by Jessica Pratt. It’s minimal and lush and the songs are perfect. I also keep going back to Damien Jurado’s record “The Horizon Just Laughed” from last year. The lyrics are dense and feel so different from anything else I’ve heard.
How did you first start playing music?
I asked for guitar lessons when I was 10 years old. My parents both listened to a lot of songwriters and bands from the 70’s and I think that music still informs a lot of what I do now. I was performing at open mics when I was 12 – but all I did was Bob Dylan songs.
What do you like to do away from music?
Reading, movies, spending time with my wonderful cat. I studied film in school and that’s the field where most of my jobs have happened.
Any secrets that you care to share?
Nothing particularly interesting. The working title for my new record is “Gloom of the PNW”. It might stick.
What do you have planned for 2019?
A new record, a short film, and seeing my favourite band, Wilco, at their Solid Sound Festival this June.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Mr. Red Cafe – a Vietnamese restaurant in my neighbourhood – is the best. I’m addicted to their salad rolls. Tacofino is another Vancouver classic and I love their cauliflower and spinach burrito. Red Cat Records is maybe the place I “hangout” the most, but it’s better to go in, not talk, and enjoy the music they’re playing while calculating how many John Fahey records you can buy.