Young Galaxy, are a band originally from Vancouver (Stephen Ramsay & Catherine McCandless), officially forming after the completion of the self titled record, and are now based out of Montreal, where they met the rest of the band to be (Stephen Durand, Stephen Kamp, Liam O'Neill). Their sound is a mixture of melancholy, clashing with dreamy undertones and lush melodies. Stephen (R), was kind enough to give us some details into the creative process of the band that is known as Young Galaxy.
1. So you were Stars touring guitarist? For how long? How did you get involved with Stars? I know the whole Broken Social Scene/Arts & Crafts label is very involved/tight knit with each others bands, have you played with BSS?
I toured with Stars for almost two years in support of the "Set Yourself On Fire" album. I was close friends with Torq Campbell of Stars' wife for many years before we started hanging out with them in Vancouver on a regular basis. He asked me to join after many whiskey-sodden nights together. I have never played in BSS - I would say standing behind the drum riser with a tambourine doesn't really count!
2. How was Young Galaxy formed? Was it a side project during the time you were in Stars? Was that the deciding factor in leaving Stars, or was it a more open door policy..where you could work around tours/shows?
Stars was a full-time commitment. Young Galaxy was my focus from well before my time in Stars, but it was mostly just a bedroom computer-based project. There was no band. I had no experience prior to playing in Stars of being in a proper band, so I knew touring with them would be a crash course in whether I really wanted to get serious about forming a band around my own music. Stars supported me in my project and I gave them my time on tour. When it came to leave, they were very understanding. They are still great friends of mine.
3. What was the original formation of the band? Was it a 2 piece originally?
It was Catherine and me only to begin with. The record is essentially us and Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas of The Besnard Lakes messing around in the studio, with other people just dropping in and lending a helping hand when it was convenient for them. We formed the band after the record was made.
4. Where is the band from? Is everyone based out of Vancouver? Was the move to Montreal imperative for the creative process and/or otherwise?
Most of the band are from out west, I'm from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and Catherine is from Vancouver - but we all met in Montreal with the exception of Catherine and me. I think the move was essential. I didn't know anyone in Vancouver who was doing music other than as a hobby. It's expensive, and the neighbourhoods are spread out there. Here, the cost of living is lower, the musicians all live relatively close together and all the facilities and venues are much closer together as well. People actually go to each others' gigs here. It's a very supportive, vibrant community in my estimation. It's inspiring to be around musicians of all types who are actually making a go of it - you end up becoming valuable resources to each other. In the end, whether you love their bands or not, you end up respecting people for having made the decision to come here in the first place. It's an inspired environment.
5. You'd mentioned some of the songs were written 4-5 years ago, was any of it changed or completely scrapped to fit what you may of been feeling at the time? How was the songwriting process, did the band contribute with it as well, or did they join once the record was already completed? And if that's the case, how do you feel they could have contributed had they been involved at the time?
Some of it changed in the studio, for sure. For instance, 'The Sun's Coming Up...' ended up being very different from the early version, which was much faster and groovier. It was Jace who suggested we slow it down and play up the melancholy in it. We loved the result. The album was made based on the demos, so there was very little rehearsal time put in before we recorded. Our motto is 'by any means necessary', so we used a lot of tricks and layers and things to make it sound as dense and epic as a band that had been together for years. That was the goal - to make it sound sophisticated despite the limitations of not being a band at the time. As I said, the band joined after the record was made, but had the band been involved, I imagine it would have yielded different results. We would have done a lot less looping and Pro Tools editing - it would have sounded that much more organic.
6. What was the difference in recording the EP as opposed to the full length album?
Two of the songs off the EP were from the album. The only track that wasn't, 'The Golden Coin', was done in Vancouver on my very first studio demo in 2003, so it represents a totally different time and place musically for me. I had yet to get most of my 'chops' playing live with Stars, and Catherine had only just become involved in the project recently, so her contribution was very small then.
7. What are some influences that you feel may of reflected the tone of the record? And some maybe not necessarily considered influences, but bands you listened to during the process?
I think the goal was to create a hyper-creative studio environment first and foremost, where we could do away with the conventions of the regular band approach. We did lots of noise experiments.. so in that regard we looked to bands like My Bloody Valentine as an influence, but never overtly. It would have been a waste of time to recreate what they did, we wouldn't know where to begin in the first place! We listened to a lot of psych music - Jace and I would compile what we were listening to and bring it into the studio for listening sessions. There was a lot of Aphrodite's Child (Vangelis' first band), Skip Spence, Moby Grape, Can, David Crosby and Tusk-era Fleetwood Mac - older stuff. We wanted to infuse our poppy-ness with otherworldly weirdness.
8. How did so many Steve's get involved with Young Galaxy?
Why, I went to the annual Steve Convention held in Las Vegas each Spring. Surely that's obvious.. Haha!
9. What's the best part of touring?
Being out of your comfort zone is the best part. You experience strange things on the road when you are in tune with that. It is unfortunately the best part and the worst part of touring! It is good to be thrust into present-mindedness as a general rule, but having few real responsibilties from day to day can be challenging. There is always a fine balance to be struck when touring.
10. What are some bands you are currently listening to?
Cass McCombs' - Dropping The Writ
Selda Bagcan - Selda album
Anything by Baxter Dury - particularily Flooshow
Studio - Yearbook 1
The Happy Mondays - Bummed
The Mary Onettes - S/T
Some old favourites/favourite records?
Talking Heads - Remain In Light Neu! - Neu! 2
Roxy Music - Avalon
Bruce Springsteen - the song Badlands (devastating!)
John Cale - Vintage Violence
J.K.&Co. - Suddenly One Summer
Ian Matthews - Journeys From Gospel Oak
The Black Angels - Passover
The Bardots - Eye Baby
Aphrodite's Child - 666
Skip Spence - Oar
Anything you're looking forward to being released?
New Spiritualized album
Last cd/vinyl/digital purchased?
Can't remember - it's been a long time!
Last movie and/or show you saw?
There Will Be Blood - genius, in a weirdly unenjoyable way...