CANADIAN band The Crowleys tell me about their…
new single, Midnight Blue. The Hamilton clan discusses working with Evan Bond on Midnight Blue’s video; whether there is new material coming; how they all got together in the first place; if there is an active and productive music scene around Hamilton/Ontario – and whether they will favour the U.K. with their presence next year.
The guys talk about the artists who have impacted them most and new acts to look out for; some of the albums that have shaped who they are; what has been the highlight from a busy and ever-moving year – and whether the band will get a chance to rest this Christmas.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
The past little bit we have taken a lot of time off playing shows to get these new recordings done - and work on writing new material. But, we were provided with the opportunity to play little shows that we couldn’t turn down this weekend and last. These shows, coupled with working hard to promote the new single, has resulted in quite the whirlwind of a week.
We love it though - and the shows went extremely well.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
We are The Crowleys; four musicians from Hamilton, Canada that play Psychedelic music - and we work really hard at trying to make you dance.
Midnight Blue is the new release. What is the story behind the song?
Our drummer wrote the first iteration of the song a couple years ago…
The lyrics were about how your mind drifts when you can’t fall asleep and that endless cycle taking you into a deep pit - or a so-called ‘midnight blue’. Writing out the lyrics were, in a sense, a type of therapy for that happening and, to be able to put words to it creatively, was very helpful. The song was sent to our guitarist and he immediately knew what he had to put over it. We then started recording but quickly ran into one big issue with it. The song has seen a key shift down and a rewrite of the vocal melody - just because we could not get the singing down in a way that felt right. It was actually when the idea came about to scrap the song during the mixing process that gave some creative freedom to it - we had nothing left to lose.
Michael Keire, the mastermind behind Threshold Studios where we record, suggested a vocoder pedal on the vocals. It took the melody to a different level that finally worked for the rest of the song. What was once the weakest aspect of the song had become the best thing about it! We all love this song now but it is definitely a change from our usual stuff - which is why we saved it for our second single.
I am interested in the animated video! Whose concept was it? Do you think it fits with the tone and feel of the song?
Evan Bond directed and animated the music video. When we first met up with Evan, we pitched him a very basic idea of what we were thinking of for the video. After that, we gave him total freedom as to what he wanted to do with it. Evan did a fantastic job of portraying the emotion of the song, in just a short amount of time, with a minimalistic animation style.
Given the new single looks at insomnia and the mind wandering; did you get inspired following the release of the song? Did that state of mind compel new direction?
All of us in the band have had that moment of intense inspiration for writing music that pops up when we are just about to fall asleep, or during sleeplessness; like you can finally begin to think creatively after your brain has purged the information that you've been bombarded with throughout the day.
When you lie in bed unable to sleep, it is meditative in a way. So, it makes sense that you can get ideas flowing with little distraction from the outside world. This type of creative output is also very organic - because you aren't sitting down and forcing yourself to write lyrics or a melody; it just comes to you.
What are you working on at the moment in terms of future material?
Since we’ve introduced a synth to our practice space, we’ve become pretty prolific with songs ideas. We have a lot of progressions and ideas in the works and we are really excited to take them into the studio and see what comes of them.
They are kind of more R&B-chill vibes than some of the heavier psych music we’ve written in the past…but we will see what happens.
How did The Crowleys get together - and what was it about each other that meant a band forming was inevitable?
We were teenagers when we first got together.
I think the feeling you get when you are in the middle of a jam and everyone is on the exact same page is addicting and, with the four of us, that happened very often. Without explicitly stating what we wanted, our songs seemed to come up with a sound pretty quick. Now, we just continue to craft that sound and expand. We have a lot of love for each other - and playing in any other band would be very strange.
Is there quite a big music scene where you are in Hamilton (Canada)? Do you have enough opportunities to perform there?
We’ve got a great little scene going on in Hamilton...
There are a lot of other hardworking and creative musicians that inspire us to be great. Like many urban centers, we’ve experienced gentrification and the closing of music venues that made the area desirable in the first place. We’re lucky enough that we’re established enough to play some of the bigger venues that still exist in the city.
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of venues that are small enough to take a risk on a smaller band first starting out - and we think that’s a problem.
IN THIS PHOTO: Father Christmas/PHOTO CREDIT: Brittany Lucas
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
A few acts from Toronto are great: Father Christmas, Jaunt and Charlotte Day Wilson. We play with Jaunt every time we get the chance and two of the musicians in Jaunt make up Charlotte Day Wilson’s band.
IN THIS PHOTO: Charlotte Day Wilson
If you each had to select the one album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
It’s hard to say an album that has meant the most to us over our lifetime - but we will give you one from recent memory.
Stuart (Drums, Vocals): Congratulations by MGMT
This album changed the way I look at writing music - and how layering different parts can give a song longevity.
Cohen (Guitar, Lead Vocals): Embryonic by The Flaming Lips
The ‘Flips’ have continually taken experimental music into the pop realm. The production on this album has been very inspiring in our work. Just give it a listen.
Justyn (Guitar, Synth): Bearer of Bad News/The Party by Andy Shauf
I can’t pick between Andy Shauf’s most recent albums - because they are both so incredible. Andy is one of the greatest storytellers I have ever listened to (and he is a good ol’ Canadian boy).
Kaulin (Bass): In Rainbows by Radiohead
In Rainbows helped me through a tough time in my life. It’s probably Radiohead’s most beautiful album.
Can we see you perform anywhere soon? What gigs do you have lined-up?
We’re playing January 5th at The Casbah in Hamilton and are currently in the process of booking shows to support the E.P. we are releasing in the spring.
Do you think you’ll come play the U.K. next year?
If the stars align, we would absolutely love to. Where’s good to play? We love Temples and, if you are reading this and are a fan of Temples…we think you’ll like our music, too!
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Work and don’t worry about anything else. We jammed in a basement for four years before we played our first show - and we think that really helped us be a good live band.
Christmas is not too far away. Do you all have plans already - or will you be busy working?
We’ve been having an annual potluck for the holidays with some of our closest friends: it’s one of the highlights of the holidays for us. We will also likely bust out some demos for new music over the break (if we can find time in the studio).
Looking back at this year; has there been a moment that stands as a highlight for all of you
We only have to look back to last week when we played a record show; we know it’s not much but that’s always kind of been a bucket list thing for us. The owner is a great guy (and in an awesome band called Coszmos Quartette) and we were excited to play in his shop - and to hear his encouragement was great.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Stuart: Echoes of Yesterday by Coszmos Quartette
Justyn: Break Down and Let it All Out by Nina Simone
Cohen: Suede by NxWorries (ft. Anderson. Paak & Knxwledge)
Kaulin: Friend Zone by Thundercat
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