Interview with Murray McKenzie from Gold & Youth
Gold & Youth are a Vancouver-based band, formed from the ashes of The Racoons, and adding previous Gold & Youth backing vocalist Louise Burns as a full-time fourth member. With a new line up and a female presence, the band followed up their strong singles with their debut album, released just two weeks ago. If you didn’t check out the album stream, add it to your To Do List (after ‘writing love letters to Pete at PeteHatesMusic’). Or, you know, buy it.
The day after the release of Beyond Wilderness, and after some telephone difficulty (dunking my iPhone in my coffee didn’t actually help the reception), PeteHatesMusic caught up with Murray McKenzie to chat about their recent release, the thinking behind the tracklisting, and how future Gold & Youth songs might sound.
PeteHatesMusic (PHM): Congratulations on the release of the album yesterday.
Murray McKenzie (MM): Thanks a lot.
PHM: I’ve listened to it a few times and I really like it. I have a question about the release. I know this isn’t uncommon but the album was streamed a week in advance. I assume this is an Arts and Crafts decision, and are you guys cool with that strategy?
MM: Oh yeah, for sure. Its more about finding ways to get people to listen to it is the goal. I think the more buzz that you can have surrounding the actual release, the better. I don’t think there’s any more exciting moment than when it actually comes out.
(note: I’m pretty sure an interview with PeteHatesMusic the day after the release is up there)
PHM: City of Quartz is the album opener as you obviously know. How do you determine the track listing and sequence? Is it a difficult process for you guys?
MM: It was kind of a rough idea over how the album would progress, being book ended by City of Quartz and Time to Kill. We were kind of intending a sort of warmth to cold or a light to dark, summer to fall kind of thing. Just a way of organizing it, which is coming back into importance with vinyl and kind of making sure that, as opposed to the old baseball analogy of all of the songs right in the 3-4-5 position or something.
PHM: So Cut Lip is the fifth hitter in the line up. It’s primarily an instrumental song. Are both of these things strategic? I don’t have the vinyl, but does that end one side?
MM: Yes, that closes Side A. And the idea with that song was, which over the course of the song you hear the album shifting into the second half, it begins this sort of warm, synthetic piece that then opens up into something a little funkier, a little more night time.
PHM: Cool. You guys were just announced to play North By Northeast, which we will be covering. What have you guys heard about it and what are you looking forward to about the week. I think you’re playing towards the end of it.
MM: Yeah. It’ll be, I think, our third time out there. It’s great, it’s a lot of fun. It’s nice to be in Toronto (note: way to suck up, Murray!) at the beginning of summer. I haven’t seen what the showcase we’re playing is. Of course, we’re doing the Arts and Crafts festival earlier in the week. I think it’s going to be a great time. We’re going to get out and do some other southern Ontario shows while we’re out there, too.
Gold & Youth – Jewel
PHM: Awesome. I just saw that you released a video for Jewel. It’s a pretty cool video. How did the idea come about? Did you guys have any input or was it a director’s call?
MM: It was something that Louise really wanted to do. This concept of a woman sort of freeing herself from an unhealthy relationship, but then also sort of finding it through self expression and through art, and in this case, dancing. Yeah, that was the vision that Louise sort of had and as soon as Natalie (Rae Robison) approached us about doing the video, she kind of wanted that right from the beginning. I think Natalie really nailed it; the video is really visually striking.
PHM: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. What’s the best or worst ban name related pun you guys have heard?
PHM: You know how headline writers like writing stupid things, like “They hit solid gold with this release!” or something dumb like that. Have you come across many regrettable headlines?
MM: You know what – I haven’t seen a good one yet. Maybe we’re not as easy to work with. Definitely some youth stuff. No one has picked up on the G.A.Y. acronym yet, so you could take that and run with that.
Gold & Youth – Time to Kill
PHM: (laughter) The only thing I thought of is when I said your band’s name, someone thought I said Golden Youth instead of Gold and Youth, so I wasn’t sure if that tied into it at all.
MM: There’s actually a character in Mad Max named Golden Youth, which is the original idea, but we wanted to break it up into something a bit more.
PHM: That’s cool. I read when some of you were writing the songs, you worked alone with the demos, and then sent them to the other members to kind of get their feedback and such. Was that difficult to not have that immediate response and dialogue of ideas with the full band or do you prefer working that way?
MM: It was a circumstance kind of solution I think. Because when we worked on it, for most of the record, Louise was living in Toronto. We had no other way to include her.
PHM: Yes, of course.
MM: But actually, the majority of the record was done – it was compartmentalized in the sense that everyone would kind of write their own little bits and pieces and bring in little elements and such. But the best parts of writing were when we had the chance to sit together, and everyone was together and could sit around the table with a laptop and kind of assemble the songs over a bottle of wine or something like that. You’re kind of assembling everyone’s pieces into a whole.
PHM: That’s interesting. Now for the question bands sort of hate. I know your album literally just came out yesterday. But do you have any idea how future songs will sound?
MM: Ummm. Well, I think some indication might be that Jewel is the last song we finished on the record. There’s another song – Come to My Eyes (confirm) – these are the only two we wrote where Louise was actually a member of the band.
Gold & Youth – City of Quartz
PHM: Ah, okay.
MM: I think having her influence will change things a bit. But collectively I think we’re sort of all moving into a darker kind of phase. A lot of the record was made in the summer of 2011, and it has that sound to it. I think darker, electronic stuff could be the future. At least right now, if we made the record tomorrow. Which we won’t.
PHM: Final question. If you ran PeteHatesMusic for a day, besides changing the blog’s name, what band and song recommendations do you have for our readers?
MM: Are you guys Canadian focused? (note: no need to be coy, Murray, I know you’re our number 1 reader)
PHM: Well, we kind of do everything. We’re mainly indie focused, with a slight lean towards Canadian and UK acts. Hit us with anything you’ve got.
MM: Let me think. (turns to Matt to ask his opinion). Oh yes, Diana. We’re really excited about Diana from Toronto.
PHM: Yes, we saw them open for CHVRCHES during Canadian Music Week.
MM: Oh yeah? Cool. I haven’t even seen them yet. That’s what we’re championing right this minute – Diana.
PHM: Cool. Well, thank you very much for your time.
MM: Thanks very much for having us.
There you have it – the latest from Vancouver G.A.Y. band. Murray and the Gold & Youth gang (Matthew Lyall, Jeff Mitchelmore, and Louise Burns) will be playing the Arts & Crafts Field Trip festival on June 8 in Toronto, as well as a handful of other dates that you can find on their Facebook page. Be sure to check them out.
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