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On Deck: Young Galaxy

By ; May 1, 2013 at 3:25 PM 

photo by Vanessa Heins

Canadian electro pop group Young Galaxy know their way around the studio, having produced some of the most memorably glistening synthetic pop of the past few years–though it does help to have someone like producer Dan Lissvik (Studio) there manning the boards with you. The band decided to create their latest record Ultramarine away from their usual recording digs in Montreal and jumped the Atlantic to Sweden, where they holed up in Lissvik’s Gothenburg studio.  Singer and group co-founder Catherine McCandless says of the move: “In being away from home, we felt like we could risk more.  Take bigger chances.”  This newfound sense of musical freedom caused the band to forgo their usual studio manipulations and focus instead on live instrumentation and on capturing the spirit of any given moment.  Coming away with an album indebted to the spontaneity within each of their recording sessions, the group sounds reinvigorated and bolstered by their newfound relaxed attitude.  

Recently, McCandless sat down with Beats Per Minute to talk about a few records which hold special significance for the band.  Ranging from the afro-pop sensibilities of Paul Simon’s Graceland to the hymnal qualities of The Staples Singers’ Uncloudy Day and on to the dark industrial soundscapes of Shaking the Habitual from The Knife, the band covers such a wide range of influences that it’s a testament to their abilities and the casual ease with which they interact with each other that they are able to seamlessly blend these contemporary and elder sounds with little apparent effort.  Check out McCandless’ full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.

YG’s 5 albums of significance (by Catherine McCandless)

New Order - Substance
New Order – Substance

Ok, so it’s not a proper album per se, it’s a compilation – but I wore it out when I was young and it’s an album that has never left the rotation. The amazing thing about New Order is that the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts – that’s what made them such a special, consummate band. It shouldn’t work – Barney can’t sing, the lyrics are suspect, the technology is rudimentary and dated, etc. but they had the intangibles. They were fearlessly experimental. They had one of the greatest drummers ever and a impeccable sense of how to marry groove and melody. Still love it.

The Orb – The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld
The Orb – The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld

When I was a teenager, electronic and dance music were coming into their own – the second summer of love had just happened in England and ecstasy was starting to show up in the clubs in Canada. There was a sense of endless possibility and euphoria in club culture, for both the musicians and the fans. Somehow it expressed the ‘coming into our own’ of this swell of young people. It was a shared experience and an experimental time… It wasn’t just music, it was life. ‘Ultraworld’ was a monolith at the center of it all, one of the first records that showcased the ambition of electronic music – it’s a sonic, sprawling, dark, playful, psychedelic, funky, and epic record that brought the organic, the body into the electronic. It didn’t leave my turntable for years.

Paul Simon - Graceland
Paul Simon – Graceland

It’s funny having children of your own and seeing which records from your parents’ collection slip through into yours… I have such vivid memories of this record being played in my house as a child, it was symbolic of good times. Now we play it for our 2-year-old son, who loves to dance with us to it. He loves it – a 2 year old’s taste never lies! This record is so rich musically – it’s inspired, you can hear it in the playing and the writing. It has cross-generational appeal, and it’s a great Sunday morning record.

The Staples Singers – Uncloudy Day
The Staple Singers – Uncloudy Day

Again, not a proper album, it’s a compilation – but it doesn’t matter, because the Staples Singers are my favourite harmonizers ever. Mavis Staples reduces me to tears on a regular basis – she has the most effortlessly powerful voice I’ve ever heard – it’s so buttery and deep… it’s amazing she’s still singing and giving it up when she does, despite the fact her voice is much more limited now… and you can see why that is on these early recordings. I defy anyone to find a more stirring vocal performance than hers on the song ‘I’m Coming Home’ – it sounds like she’s sobbing, she’s singing with such feeling. It’s almost frightening. I actually have goosebumps writing this…

The Knife_ShakingtheHabitual.jpg
The Knife – Shaking The Habitual

I just listened to this for the first time today, it’s streaming online… it’s such an intense, visceral album. It’s pretty exhausting, but I also feel a little exhilarated after listening… it’s a bit early to say what I think of it, but I can unequivocally state that Karin Dreijer Andersson is one of my heroes – I follow her moves closely. I love how uncompromising she is – she brings difficult, political subject matter into her music in a way that avoids cliche. She’s punk rock – she’s family first, and she doesn’t play the game. She doesn’t have to pretend to be young and sexy, because she’s intelligent and fearless – that’s sexy – her work and her imagination speak for themselves.

Young Galaxy’s latest album Ultramarine is available now on Paper Bag Records

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