'Maude Perrin In the early- to mid-2000s, propelled by the global successes…
- Posted on Jan 7th 2011 11:00AM by Melody Lau
"That was the idea, to flip the script," singer-guitarist Stephen Ramsay tells Spinner. "We really set out to put our money where our mouth was."
The track, a snippet from The Montreal outfit's upcoming full-length, 'Shapeshifting,' sees the band cast aside their dream-pop aesthetic in favour of a smokier, more seductive dance vibe. The album title itself also reflects the shift. "It seemed like the obvious choice given the nature of the record," says Ramsay.
Pared down to the trio of Ramsay, his girlfriend and co-vocalist Catherine McCandless and bassist Stephen Kamp after the departure of keyboardist Max Henry, Young Galaxy are eagerly anticipating what fans will say about their new direction. "It's hard to say," says Ramsay. "I'd like to think that people who liked the first couple of records would like this one; there's a lot of things about it that are like the band before. But it's a totally different approach."
After spending last January recording at home and, in part, at Breakglass studio with their friend (and Besnard Lakes frontman) Jace Lasek, the band sent their raw material overseas. Having never formally met producer Dan Lissvik of Swedish electronic duo Studio (Young Galaxy has yet to meet him in person, still), Ramsay and his bandmates stood by as this relative stranger took the reigns to the project.
"We were trying to get him involved even for 'Invisible Republic,'" says Ramsay. Scheduling conflicts may have prevented Lissvik from signing on back in 2009, but it didn't stop Young Galaxy from scheming. "We knew even before we began recording that he'd be involved and the way that he would be involved."
Watch Young Galaxy's Video for 'Come and See' Off of 'Invisible Republic'
Despite being a continent apart during the nine months it took to mix and complete the album, the band built a strong friendship with Lissvik through weekly Skype conferences.
"He kind of became the voice of our computer, in a weird way," laughs Ramsay, who admits the working arrangement was less than ideal at times.
"It was sort of stressful. He would describe to us what he was doing to the music but he wouldn't let us hear it; he kind of held it really close to his chest."
Being big fans of Studio alleviated some of their unease, but it was ultimately the bond they formed through the Skype chats that convinced the group Lissvik would ace the job. "We were getting to know each other, and knowing that that would inform the music kind of made it a more intimate process."
"I don't think many bands would do that because you're losing a lot of the control you have over the final product," he adds. "When Coldplay said that they were going to work with Brian Eno, and that it was going to be an experiment, you were like 'Oh my God, I can't wait to hear this! This is going to be crazy!' But then it was just like Coldplay with more keyboard -- this is very different."
When the finished record finally did arrive, Ramsay found listening to it to be a novel experience. "It was just strange because you're usually sick to death of it, and you can't really have any perspective anymore, but this was really fresh. So I was able to listen to it over and over again."
Watch Young Galaxy Perform 'Pathos' Off of 'Invisible Republic'
"I could look at it a little more objectively than I've been able to in the past," he continues. "My first reaction wasn't like, 'Yes, this is amazing! Let's ship it off to the masses now.' I had to get to know it, too."
Ramsay suspects that 'Shapeshifting' might take a few listens to fully grab fans, which, he explains, is actually a bonus. "I think growers are some of the best records. Records that hit you immediately are often like crack. I want this record to be more than that. I don't want it to feel like crack cocaine!"
Young Galaxy hope to work with Lissvik again, but will have to let schedules and timing dictate future plans. In the meantime, though, Ramsay and McCandless are already working with him on another project, a "Robyn-style solo artist" named Hanna, who the couple write songs for.
As for touring, the band will hit the road in February with labelmates You Say Party! -- and that means bolstering their lineup in all likelihood to offset the loss of Henry, now fully occupied with another Montreal band called Suuns.
"He just sort of outgrew the situation with us," says Ramsay of the split. "We still love him and I think he has a very bright future as a musician, but in the end, it was probably easier. You know that show 'Big Love'? It was like that for Max, he was just feeling the pressure."
The shift is just one of Young Galaxy's many natural transformations over the years, he adds.
"We're like a mini Broken Social Scene."