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Q&A: Young Liars

Young Liars are one of the fresher bands to begin their ascent of the Vancouver music scene, having recently released their EP Homesick Future. An indie synth-lover’s dream, their music is composed with a throwback kick to New Wave while infused with a mix of contemporary pop and house music. Front man Jordan Raine (vocals and guitar) took the time to speak with The Cascade about the EP and life as part of a young band.

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By Joe Johnson (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: March 21, 2012

Young Liars are one of the fresher bands to begin their ascent of the Vancouver music scene, having recently released their EP Homesick Future. An indie synth-lover’s dream, their music is composed with a throwback kick to New Wave while infused with a mix of contemporary pop and house music. Front man Jordan Raine (vocals and guitar) took the time to speak with The Cascade about the EP and life as part of a young band. The rest of Young Liars is composed of Angelo Ismirnioglou (guitar), Wesley Nickel (Keyboards), Ty Badali (drums) and Andrew Beck (bass).

The whole story from your bio about how Young Liars came together in a dark Algerian bar in the streets of a rioting Paris had me going for a while. But how did the band really develop?

Well, we came together slowly over, I guess, six months. I was playing with the drummer and bass player in another band. And then our guitarist/singer decided he would leave and so we kind of just continued to jam for another six months or so, not really doing a lot, just coming and getting together and playing music. And then we were like, “Okay, let’s actually make a band … we’ll just replace the guitar player” and so we actually put out a Craigslist ad because we had pretty much exhausted anyone we knew who had the same vibe and same interest in music. And so we ended up connecting with Angelo.

We were rehearsing in Maple Ridge at the time, even though none of us lived there—Andrew’s aunt had a small studio out there—and so Angelo came out from downtown and I think we bonded over the fact that we loved the Bloc Party … then we continued with Angelo as a four piece, and then we brought Wes in to do some recording, originally, because he did some engineering stuff back in the day. And then eventually, as we did a couple demos with him … we were like, “Why don’t we get a synth player?” and Wes was a great fit – we all got along real well. And so, he ended up joining us … I guess that was in April of 2010.

How would you classify your sound?

I think what we usually say is something like “electro indie pop something.” We really have no idea. We tend to let people do that for us. I guess the EP is straddling those lines, kind of a little bit electronic, a little bit of pop – there’s not really a lot of rock in there, but there’s a little bit of that. But we like synth sounds, we like electronic sounds, and we like effects and glitching stuff out and things like that. But we also like really well laid out pop music. So, we try and blend that as best as we can.

I find you guys to be pretty synth heavy, and at times even a New Wave kind of sound from the ’80s. Are there any bands from that time period that have influenced you guys?

Yeah, I think we probably take a bunch of influences from that. I think we all kind of like the New Order, Joy Division, Talking Heads, that whole vibe and you know … less synthy but like the Smiths as well, but that really cool pop sound.

Have you guys ever tried experimenting with any other types of sounds?

Oh yeah, all the time … I find it actually a lot easier just to write random[ly]. You know, sit down at a piano … and just kind of go. Then it turns up sounding a lot more spacey and experimental, and then usually we’ll take that and we’ll bring it to the group … and then, “What are the chords here? Let’s change this, let’s change that.”

As far as making those tracks leap onto the album, we might end up doing stuff like that interlude-y stuff on the album. But we’ll see. We’ll see when we get there.

The Vancouver indie scene seems to really be kicking it into high gear with some really top notch bands right now. What’s it like being a band in a city that’s fostering such great music?

It’s really cool to see so many good bands coming up because it’s encouraging, and it’s challenging everybody … and the more we challenge each other and push each other, then the better the whole scene will get.

I think things like The Peak and The Peak Performance Project are encouraging people to get together and actually put [in] effort … and become a really interesting, unique group. There are so many resources out there now, too. It’s just really cool to see that.

When I was in high school there were not nearly this many interesting groups out there. There just seems to be, like you said … an explosion of really cool bands that are coming out in Vancouver now. I feel like, “Okay finally, it’s beyond metal, and it’s beyond the Nickelback sound.” We’re kind of moving and growing a little bit.

What’s life like outside of the band?

The life of a band these days seems to be: live a completely normal life, work a day job, and keep yourself super busy, and at night you play music and you play shows … I think a lot of bands are in a place where they’re not at a place where they can do their music full-time, but they just pour every last minute they have into it. And I think that’s kind of where we’re at right now.

The video for your single “Colours” is pretty sweet. How did that come about?

The idea came from the label. They said “okay, we want a lyric video” and we never thought of doing a lyric video before… I’ve seen a lot of lyric videos that I wasn’t a fan of. I think if you Google “lyric video” you can find a lot of pop/punk type videos, and it just kind of seems a little bit – not too interesting, at least not to me.

We ha[d] some footage from a previous shoot of us from a couple of concerts, and a music thing that never came to fruition. And so, that’s where you get the silhouettes look, and so we processed that, and in the back of all the lyrics is us playing music … I love that effect of text with video behind it … it’s really cool to have it out there.  I’ve got very, very quick and sometimes not the most understandable lyrics so people appreciate it – being able to understand what I’ve been saying.

What’s your favourite track on the EP?

It kind of shifts for me, usually it’s which[ever] is my favourite to play live. And I’d probably have to say my favourite is “Newton, Forgive Me.” I guess it’s something to play live for me, for whatever reason. I enjoy it.

Nettwerk is a very intriguing record label. How is it being signed by them?

They are really awesome to work with.  All of a sudden you sign on, and you’ve got this whole house full of people who are passionate about what they do, and they’re very good at what they do. And so we’ve got people doing all these things that we suck at – we’re not good at publicizing ourselves; we’re not good at organizing video shoots. You know, all this stuff that we aren’t really able to do on our own if we tried. It would take us forever.

And when can we expect a full album to drop?

We are hoping—let me be optimistic—and say out this summer for the full length.

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