Discovering a charming story or a superbly composed tune is at all times a tremendous day, certainly. With Toronto musician Andy Shauf, we discover each. Shauf’s final album, The Get together, was his first idea album and it raised fairly just a few glasses. It featured a set of song-stories revolving across the identical set of characters, all on the identical celebration on one night time. His most up-to-date album, The Neon Skyline (by way of ANTI-) listens like a novel, every tune a chapter. The musician’s second idea album follows characters like our unhappy narrator, his ex-girlfriend Judy and his finest bud Charlie all through the course of 1 night. The album takes Shauf’s storytelling and composition fashion to a brand new degree. Songs are wealthy with woodwinds, multi-textural melodies and distinctive vocal inflections that evoke a tragic Paul Simon really feel.
We talked with Shauf about his shift into the land of storytelling, the inspirations that led him there and a bit about his writing course of. Shauf shared, too, about coming of age in Regina, Saskatchewan and the way his musical stylings have shifted and proceed shifting in new instructions. After the jazz-kissed mild folks pop (dubbed “different”) Neon Skyline, what’s subsequent? “Disco, possibly,” he jokes. Who is aware of?
EARMILK: Everybody’s at all times speaking in regards to the storytelling in your songs. Do you might have a background in literature, or take sure literary affect in your story writing fashion?
ANDY SHAUF: No, not likely. The one time I actually began writing was once I began writing songs, and there was a protracted time period once I was writing actually like, introspective sort of issues; songs about my emotions. And I acquired sort of bored with that.
EM: What led to the shift? Any specific influences you heard?
AS: I used to be listening to a number of Randy Newman. I feel I learn an interview about Randy Newman, about how he makes use of an inconsistent narrator and he at all times tells tales and stuff in his songs. And I used to be like, oh man, that is a means higher thought than writing at all times in regards to the actually boring issues happening in my life. So, I began making an attempt to do story songs. It is a good problem. I actually take pleasure in making an attempt to jot down fictional issues.
EM: Did you consider the story as a complete first, earlier than writing the music and the songs, or how did you place this assortment collectively?
AS: For this album, I actually needed to have a plan going into it…a top level view and characters and to know precisely what they had been going to do. However I do not know the way individuals try this. I do not know the way individuals are that organized, so I simply began writing songs and the characters got here out of it. That is often the way it goes for me. I can begin writing a tune with out figuring out what is going on to occur in it and by the tip of it, there will be some type of story.
EM: So, is Neon Skyline speculated to all happen inside one night? Are there any nonlinear components within the narrative?
AS: Yeah, it is speculated to be one night time. There’s a bit of dream sequencey kinda half the place he is remembering again in time however yeah. That is one factor that for some cause I actually needed to make it occur multi function night time. There was some extent the place I used to be speaking to my roommate–I used to be telling him in regards to the songs sort of as I went along–and I used to be like, this tune does not work as a result of it does not occur on the identical night time. And my roommate was like, you are the one individual that cares that that is multi function night time! So, I am unsure why I needed it to be multi function night time however that is simply how my mind was working.
EM: How autobiographical is that this album? Are these songs primarily based in your experiences, or on experiences you’ve got observed?
AS: The character’s actually not too far off of me, I feel. There’s a number of this that is like, this stuff have occurred in my life earlier than. Like, the tune “Mud Youngsters” is predicated on once I learn this ebook about younger children remembering their previous lives after which I proceeded to drunkenly inform everybody about it on the bar. So, I made that right into a tune. That one’s fairly actual life-based. They’re all snippets from actual life and exaggerated moments.
EM: I used to be intrigued by your Christian pop-punk previous. How outdated had been you while you had been in Captain?
AS: That was throughout highschool and a yr or two after. I used to be younger; I actually appreciated enjoying the drums actually loud and breaking drums and symbols for some cause. I kinda grew out of that half, although. I grew up within the church and…once I was actually younger, like six or seven, I began enjoying drums with the church band.
EM: What do you suppose your mother and father or former church household consider your new album? Have you ever gotten any apprehensive suggestions or something?
AS: Effectively, I am fairly disconnected from the church lately, however my mother and father are happy with me. I feel they like this new album as a result of it is a bit of extra upbeat. I do know my grandma has at all times needed me to jot down some happier songs so. Hopefully this one is pleased sufficient (laughs).
EM: Rob Schnapf blended this album–were there any surprises within the studio? Creation anecdotes, both with Rob or within the music writing course of on the whole?
AS: Yeah, when Rob was mixing it I used to be largely sitting on the sofa enjoying video video games on my cellphone. (laughs). So yeah, he simply sort of made it sound good and requested me if I appreciated it. However so far as surprises? I used to be touring quite a bit whereas I used to be making an attempt to complete this final report and so the final time I acquired to go dwelling and actually end all the things up earlier than we despatched this to Rob, I felt like one thing was lacking tonally. My pal who additionally makes use of my studio, had an alto sax in there. And I might by no means actually performed sax, it is fairly much like clarinet however I’ve by no means felt assured in it however I made a decision to place that on a few songs and it really sounded okay! Made the report, and I used to be shocked.
EM: Good shock! Which songs have alto?
AS: “Neon Skyline” and “Issues I Do.” It sort of simply seems like a clarinet however I do know it is a sax.
EM: Did you do highschool band or are you a self-taught musician?
AS: No, I did not do highschool band. My mother purchased me a clarinet in all probability about ten years in the past now. Proper earlier than the album earlier than The Get together she purchased me one and I sort of found out tips on how to play it. Having yet another factor to make a textural distinction on songs was good. So yeah, I caught with that.
EM: So clarinet was your first woodwind instrument?
AS: Yeah. I feel it is the best one. However I do not wish to say that to actual clarinet gamers.
EM: Have you ever ever picked up a flute?
AS: I’ve one now. And it is laborious! I feel it is hardest one. Having to regulate your entire posture. I actually wish to study a brass instrument, possibly a trumpet or one thing however I feel which may really be the toughest. I attempted to play a trombone earlier than and it simply seemed like somebody spitting via a pipe.
EM: You already know, I used to be curious to listen to your talking voice. It seems like you might have an accent while you sing–but you do not actually! Is that inflection simply the way in which your ear follows the music? Is that this a bizarre query?
AS: No, I get it. Folks at all times inform me that I’ve an accent once I sing. And, I imply, the way in which that I sing now to me is pure. However I hear the weirdness? I feel it is only a product of holding out vowels actually bizarre once I sing. I’ve this trainer pal who mentioned that she thought it was as a result of individuals with quiet voices, after they attempt to project–the means that they’re going to train you tips on how to do it’s to carry out vowels. And I feel that is what occurred. Like, reveals with shitty displays and you’ll’t hear what you are doing and you find yourself holding out the vowels actually bizarre. And now it is regular and everybody asks me why I sing so bizarre! And, I do not know! I am not making an attempt to.
EM: If you talked about Randy Newman earlier I used to be like, oh possibly that is the vocal affect. Is there anybody else you are listening to proper now or, while you had been making this report had been you listening to a number of something particularly?
AS: I used to be listening to a number of seventies folks stuff. I actually wish to make a folks report, with simply guitar and vocal and actually easy. So I used to be listening to Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot, and I discovered this actually cool album by this man named named Allan Wachs. He made this one report known as Mountain Roads and Metropolis Streets that is actually cool. He was by no means actually profitable, however I simply discovered his album by clicking instructed issues to hearken to (on-line). And that one was a giant one for me once I was making this report.
EM: Is he nonetheless round? Does he learn about how he is influenced you?
AS: Yeah, my supervisor reached out to him a pair weeks in the past. And yeah, he is nonetheless round. Nonetheless doing stuff.
EM: Did rising up in Regina, Saskatchewan affect your music writing or progress? What was it like for you rising up there?
AS: I moved there after highschool, I used to be in actually small cities earlier than that. Then after highschool I moved to the large metropolis. It is like 200,000 individuals possibly? There is a fairly good punk scene there (in Regina). It was like, hardcore music at that point–early 2000’s hardcore…a giant DIY scene that was actually about group. It was actually welcoming. I performed a number of shows–I might be the acoustic man opening u for all of the metallic bands. Everybody was actually supportive, although, it was place–a good scene–to develop up.
EM: Are you engaged on one thing else but or are you beat?
AS: Yeah, I am engaged on some songs. It will in all probability change 1,000,000 instances earlier than I get round to the ultimate model of no matter that is going to be. I am at all times engaged on one thing, although.
EM: Curious when you’re keen on exploring folks extra, or when you may head in a brand new path?
AS: I do not wish to make the identical report once more, so I have been sort of exploring the disco world. So we’ll see if that is the worst concept that I’ve ever had.
EM: Or, the very best. Get your trombone, bust into the disco.
AS: Yeah, precisely. The brand new instrumental-only disco trombone report.
EM: What sort of totally different decisions do it’s important to make for all times performances?
AS: Effectively, I sort of inform the gamers to maintain to what’s on the report however clearly they will interpret issues a bit of bit otherwise and there is a totally different really feel that comes with totally different gamers. As soon as all of us get to play the songs collectively it is nice–it provides the songs a brand new dimension, which is an thrilling a part of it. On a recording I can play no matter I would like and put no matter I would like into it, however while you carry it to the stage and there is six of us enjoying it, it is like, it’s important to work out how we commerce off on totally different components. Who performs what. It is a complete, thrilling course of. That we have not began but (he says with what seems like a smile).
EM: Andy, how would you describe your self outdoors of your music? A few of these tales paint you in a sure means. Simply curious when you’re a sort of joke round, dry humor kind of individual or a quiet type–who are you in nature?
AS: You already know, I really feel like I get painted quite a bit as like, unhappy man. However, I’m not unhappy. Largely, I hang around with my pals and make silly jokes and that is about it. Do not get too severe.