PHOTO CREDIT: Nelson Mouellic
Jasper Sloan Yip
I am excited…
because, in three days, Jasper Sloan Yip unleashes the new album, Post Meridiem. It is the third album from the Vancouver-based artist - who is now part of a seven-piece band - and is an extraordinary work! In the Living Room is the new single: it follows the awesome The Day Passed and the Sun Went Down - and announces the Canadian musician as a force to watch. I ask about the latest album and the themes tackled throughout; how the music has progressed through time – and what Vancouver is like when it comes to new, ambitious artists.
He talks about his band – and how they all found each other – and whether there are tour dates coming before the end of the year; the single album the Jasper Sloan Yip counts as most important – and the new artists we should all keep our ears open for.
Hi, Jasper. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m exhausted - but no complaints.
Last night, I wrapped up two weeks of shows and promo for Post Meridiem in Eastern Canada. I attended a conference in Toronto this weekend - put on by Folk Music Ontario - which was a lot of fun but it wiped me out. I never really got to bed last night: just went to the airport at the crack of dawn and came home...
Pretty good week, overall.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hey everyone. I’m Jasper and I’ve been recording and performing my evolving brand of music since 2009. I began my career as a solo artist - playing what most people would call ‘folk’ music - in and around Vancouver, Canada. Over the years, I gradually put a band together and now we’re a seven-piece Art-Pop band - set to release our third L.P., Post Meridiem, this month.
In the Living Room is the new single. What is the story behind the song? Can you reveal the themes and inspirations that go into the record?
This song, like the entire album, does not have a story behind it - so much as it is a small piece of the larger narrative of Post Meridiem. The songs are a series of intimate vignettes about a young couple at home.
In the Living Room comes right after a song called Put Up Your Hair; in which our couple is contemplating their future. That song ends with this exchange: “What should we do honey? Where should we go?”...“Baby, let’s go out. Put up your hair while I put on our song.” (Clearly, the question is referring to the larger picture of their relationship). The responder chooses to avoid this potentially painful subject and opts for short-term gratification - by suggesting they go party; instead of actually dealing with their situation. In the Living Room picks up the narrative, a few hours later, as they begin to crash (“Oh, nevermind, let’s just get out of here. I’m getting tired and we’ve had a lot to drink.”).
PHOTO CREDIT: Nelson Mouellic
The rest of the song follows their long, sleepless night spent coming-down from their party together in the living-room. Vice, substance abuse; isolation and escape very prevalent themes on this record - and they all come to a head on this song. The upbeat, happy sound of this song masks the difficult and uncomfortable feelings it contains; much in the same way that our couple deflect and avoid confrontation throughout the narrative.
I’ve tried very hard to put together a vivid depiction of two people struggling with themselves and their relationship - and I’ve tried to do this all through suggestion and implication. My hope is that people can listen and see some part of themselves in this world I’ve put together. If you say things to explicitly, you alienate people who cannot relate to the exact context you put forth.
The track is already getting a lot of love from British sources. How does that make you feel?
I make music to connect with people and I am so grateful to be alive and making music - at a time where sharing it with the rest of the world has never been easier.
This will be your third album. How has your music developed and changed since the 2010-debut? Have you noticed yourself changing as a songwriter?
Absolutely. To be frank, I have a hard time relating to the songs on my first record. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, either: quite the opposite, actually: it’s healthy to outgrow our younger selves. Every Day and All at Once is not a bad album - and I’m proud of it. But, I know that the music that has followed it is - for lack of a better word - better. I write exclusively about myself. I can’t help it. So, in that sense, no…I have not changed all that much.
But, I’m doing my best to find better ways of telling these stories with every song.
You are a self-taught musician. Why did you take a one-way trip to Paris before your debut album? That sounds like a risky move!
I went to Europe just for the sake of going.
I had spent two unfulfilling years at university and I needed an adventure. Prior to that trip, I had not travelled - aside from a few small trips around Canada and the United States. I was hungry for independence and new experiences and, thankfully, Europe was where I decided to start making it seriously.
Tell me how you came to meet your band. Let me hear a little bit about each member?
I met my band very organically...
I knew our drummer, Graham, a bit growing up but I serendipitously ran into him at a gas station about a month before I was set to record Every Day and All at Once - and I asked him then and there if he wanted to join…and he’s been with us ever since. I met Stephanie at an open mic (night) where I got my start. She started joining me on violin at the mic - and then joined full-time. I met Marcus (Bass) and Alex (Cello) through bands we shared bills with. I met Owen (Keyboards) when I was trying to find an old Wurlitzer 200a - and he happened to have one to sell.
Lastly, Devon joined up during the Foxtrot tour. We were touring with our good friend Skye Wallace with whom Devon was playing the violin. Skye’s run on the tour ended about halfway but Devon stayed on to play with us - and has been a member ever since.
PHOTO CREDIT: Nelson Mouellic
What is it like performing together on the road? How much fun is it being on the same stage together?
Playing music with these people is a dream-come-true. These people are my family and I feel so lucky to get to make music with them. They are all wonderful people and tremendously talented musicians. I am, far and away, the least capable musician in the band (and I like it that way).
Vancouver is your base. What is the city like for a musician? How inspiring is it to you?
Vancouver is tough: the cost of living makes it tough for artists of all kinds.
The other major issue is the lack of venues. Our mid-sized rooms and small clubs are all shutting down and new ones aren’t opening: the city just isn’t very venue-friendly. We have some very dated liquor laws and other bylaws that make opening new venues difficult. That said, I’ve lived here my whole life and it will always be a part of me. This city has informed everything I’ve ever written - even when I was away. When I was in Europe, I wrote about Vancouver quite a bit.
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
Check out Sam Tudor’s new album Quotidian Dream. He just released it: fantastic work. Signature voice, great lyrics.
Also, check out Peach Pit. Great Indie -Rock band from Vancouver and pretty great people, too. Their new album, Being So Normal, just came out - and it’s terrific.
PHOTO CREDIT: Nelson Mouellic
If you had to select the album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
My ‘desert island record’ has been Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot for a long time. I referenced it heavily on my last record, Foxtrot. I could talk about this album forever; it’s almost too much to tackle! Suffice to say, I’ve studied it extensively and, what makes it so special to me, is that I always find new depths to it with every listen.
Even after listening to it all these years, it still affects my emotions ins new ways - and I don’t know what that is exactly… but that’s what makes it so powerful.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Make art for yourself. It’s really that simple.
I didn’t always make music for the right reasons but I do now - and it changed everything.
Where can we see you play this year? What dates do you have coming up?
This has been a big year for me already.
I spent all of May touring Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands and, like I said earlier, I just got back from two weeks of shows in Canada. At the moment, my books are pretty open but I’m aiming to be back in Europe for early-2018 with my band.
We’ll definitely be booking shows in Germany, the U.K.; the Netherlands and, potentially, Italy, as well.
Christmas is not too far away. Do you all have plans already - or will you be busy working?
This year has been nuts; so I’m really looking forward to spending Christmas in Vancouver with my family - and getting started writing our next record.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
How about Quotidian Boy by Sam Tudor!
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