Montreal-based band, Young Galaxy, has set out to take listeners on a whole new aural journey with their upcoming third release, Shapeshifting. Shipped off to Sweden and sonically repackaged by Dan Lissvik of Swedish electronica band, Studio, guitars and drums have been replaced with keyboards and reverb so that their once signature, artful rock sound has become sleek, spacious and decidedly lithe. Catherine McCandless (vocals/keyboards) talks about the band’s ongoing reinvention and their recent, bold shift toward a new sound.
How did you choose Dan Lissvik to produce Shapeshifting?
It came out of being huge fans of his band, Studio, originally. Earlier, we’d sent him Invisible Republic to see if he could do some remixing, and loved what he did…but it wasn’t the right feel for that record. Actually, it wasn’t that it wasn’t right… we loved what he did so much we thought we’d rather have him produce for us. Later, when we started writing tracks for Shapeshifting, we knew we wanted them to be more organic and re-thought a little and knew he’d be perfect for that. He was totally into it, so we were happy. It was mutually enticing.
Is it true that you sent your music off to Dan and he simply returned a finished version nine months later?
It wasn’t entirely ‘no strings’ where we sent it off and abandoned it. We’d have conversations via Skype and discuss the shape the songs were taking. He’d play us samples and sounds, but it definitely wasn’t the typical recording or production scenario where you’re sitting in the studio together saying, “more of this” and “less of that.” We knew we loved his music with Studio and the remixes he’d already given us, but we didn’t know what our music would inspire in him. It was a very… calculated risk.
You’ve been compared to Spiritualized, Slowdive and Galaxie 500 in the past, but this record is different. Have new comparisons begun?
To be honest, I don’t read our press, so I don’t know what people are saying about this one. Steve [Ramsay] was totally willing to make our sound change and make that move away from the guitars all the time. He’s the composer of our music, really. And he was very ready with Shapeshifting to get more into atmosphere and different sounds.
So would you say this is a reinvention of Young Galaxy?
I feel like we’re in a constant state of reinvention – and that’s more of a natural state. We’re writing what we know and what we know is change. Half of it is who we’re inspired by, but the other half is where we are personally and what’s going on in our lives. We never know what our writing process will reveal but we’re always shooting for the right energy and for the melody to be right. We definitely nailed a lot of bittersweet melodies for this album.
You sing more on Shapeshifting than you have in the past. What’s the reason?
Again, Steve was ready to focus more on atmosphere and keyboard sounds and to give up certain things – like singing. I’m not trained and I don’t practice very much (laughs) but I love to sing. I feel tapped into something very…elemental. I was contributing melody and lyrics and I just felt like, “Okay, I want to contribute my voice.” So basically, the songs I wrote I was singing, or Steve would write something and hear my voice on it.
Besides your upcoming tour, what else is planned for 2011?
It’s going to be a productive year. We’re writing some material for [Swedish artist] Hanna and we’re talking about soundtracking a friend’s film. We’re really interested in working from home in the spring because I’m pregnant right now… so we’re doing the tour for a month and a half. The baby is due in May and we want to have time at home to keep writing material and not feel like we’re losing the plot. Hopefully in the fall we’ll start touring again – maybe Europe; we’ll see – but it’s all going to be really interesting…a really good year.
Shapeshiftingwill be launched February 8 on Paper Bag Records. For a complete list of the band’s North American tour dates with label mates, Winter Gloves, visit www.paperbagrecords.com.