Date Posted: October 10, 2011
Print Edition: October 5, 2011
Blind Horses is a mood and melody-first garage rock band from Vancouver, B.C. Their music is often both ethereal and meandering, imbued with a sense of knowing wonder that characterizes their otherworldly vision of urban life. Injected with guitar-work that recalls Pavement and song structures that reference the Velvet Underground, Blind Horses have been releasing music independently on their own Moravia Records since 2009’s debut EP Colourful Noises. The creative duo behind Blind Horses, Peki Hajdukovic and Danny Majer, have been playing guitar together since elementary school, finally deciding to get serious about making original music when they realised they were no longer content simply covering The Beatles and Radiohead. They recorded their first EP the summer before twelfth grade and released it as Colourful Noises the following November. The band has since added bassist Jack MacDonald to the line-up with a rotating mix of drummers (including Jack’s brother Will) filling in on their recording projects. The Cascade recently had the opportunity to ask Danny Majer what the band is up to these days:
What’s next for the band?
We are deeply involved in developing our writing at the moment. Putting together a good amount of material that we are excited to start performing live.
What’s your creative process like?
Constantly changing. We are always looking for new ways to write. Most recently we have locked up in our rehearsal space, hit record and began improvising. After of month of doing that, we went over the material that we had recorded and whatever really stood out began to form what is our latest material.
Blind Horses embarked on a cross-Canada tour last fall, a tall order for an independent band. What was your experience both on the road and the planning stage of trying to book gigs?
A learning process. Our first cross-Canada tour was great simply because we survived it. Booking shows is not fun.
What was the reception like back East?
We did three shows in Eastern Canada: one in Toronto, one in Kitchener and our final show in Montreal. Every show was totally different, but the fans we [found] made it all so worth it. You just don’t really know what to expect going into these towns you’ve never visited but they were great over there.
In April, you released your first piece of vinyl, a 7” single [“Broken Bridges b/w Medium Sized World”]. What was that process like? Do you plan on releasing more vinyl in the future?
Our first piece of vinyl was inevitably a very exciting thing for us. We had booked this show at Red Cat Records on Record Store Day, so we were under huge pressure to get this thing done before the show, and we’re still pretty happy about how things went over, partially because our producer Craig McCaul has been really good to us. All of us being huge vinyl fans made it really special for us. We officially promise to never stop releasing vinyl.
You seem to use a wider variety of overdubs on “Broken Bridges” (what sounds like accordion and a toy piano for starters) and “Medium Sized World” than on last year’s Colourful Noises EP. What prompted this decision to open up your sound this way?
Constant experimentation. We’re not afraid of doing overdubs and trying to throw what we can at a song. Some things stick and some things don’t. Whatever ended up sticking is only half of what we experimented with. When we did Colourful Noises we were still with our drummer that we started the band with and we were still a solid three-piece, so that’s how we played the songs. But since we lost our drummer, the writing process has become just myself and Peki so we don’t see any reason to restrain ourselves to that three-piece garage rock band ideal we had back in high school. We wanna do what’s best for each piece of music, and that may include 40 overdubs, or two. Approaching a song has become more challenging in a sense but has also it’s allowed us – for lack of a better term – to think outside of the box.
What makes a great venue?
A regular crowd of people that come to enjoy music. When we first started playing live we found ourselves in restaurants and bars. We don’t really find ourselves in those settings anymore, but since the beginning have had some great opportunities of playing at venues that cater just to fans or people looking to simply hear a live band, not hungry, thirsty patrons. We’re not picky when it comes to the acoustics of a place and all that, although sometimes it can be a pain, we just like a place with great atmosphere and you know you’re there when you’re there.
What’s the best venue you’ve played?
The Zoo Zhop on Main St. Amazing vibes, amazing people, very relaxed and a total departure from any of the seemingly unnecessary formalities that come with booking a show and doing sound check, etc. The Marquee Room in Calgary is also a really cool place.
Would you rather be recording or performing live?
We’re learning to enjoy both. The more you do either one the more you learn what works and what doesn’t. I’d say we’re far less comfortable with playing live, we get the nerves sometimes, but that’s what ultimately makes it fun for us. So I don’t know. We’re really enjoying our time recording right now, because we feel like there’s a lot we have to say about ourselves musically and a lot of new stuff is coming out of these sessions. But while this is going on we can’t help but be excited for when we get to play the same material live.
What have you been listening to lately?
Last thing I listened to today was Aphex Twins’ Richard D. James album. I love the mood he manages to create using this insanely electronic approach. Last night our producer [Craig McCaul] told us our new material reminds him of this old instrumental band called Tortoise, so me and Peki were checking that out earlier. Last thing Peki put on when we were at the turntable was Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song,” single on vinyl. Jack and Will McDonald are always playing some good stuff, like Keepaway and I think I heard some Com Truise last time I was at their house.
What are your favourite record stores?
Red Cat is always going to be a special place for us; those guys have been good to us and the selection is really killer. We’re actually very fortunate to have such awesome stores around Vancouver. I was very impressed by the free beer I received at Zulu the last couple times I was there, and we also got to catch No Gold perfoming live. Zoo Zhop is also awesome when it comes to local music.
Aside from playing and listening to music, what other pursuits take up your time?
One of the reasons me and Peki became friends was because we were always both really into astronomy; we’re actually planning on taking a trip to the space centre sometime this week. Science is rad. Peki is taking up school at Nimbus this year which is going to be awesome. Jack has been working on a TV show and Will is in school. As for myself, maybe I’ll take a plane somewhere soon.