By Tyler Laing
In todayâ€™s software-saturated musical mainframe, itâ€™s easy to get caught up in the glow of it all, the electronic ease by which bands share their brand and audiences find whatever they seek. Itâ€™s a time of access, of easy information. Success is measured in â€œLikes,â€ hits and views; recognition is found in the â€œRetweet.â€ To make it in the music industry, an adept self-promotion skill set holds nearly as much weight as actual talent.
For nearly two years now, Vancouver-based Young Liars have been building a quiet momentum, sampling social media and trying new technologies, synthesizing a sound soon to be unleashed on the mainstream market. But while these guys had to work to get their music heard, they had a little help along the way, too.
This five-piece, electropop indie outfit officially came together in April 2010 and released their first two singles, â€œColoursâ€ and â€œMarathon,â€ that fallâ€”as so many artists do these daysâ€”via Bandcamp. Lead singer Jordan Raine recalls the songsâ€™ early reception. â€œWhen we first released those two tracks we were a little bit surprised because we got some fairly random blogs who happened to find them.â€
Before long, BIRP, as well as others, featured the music on its monthly playlist. This action led to a campaign with Grooveshark, which gave Young Liars a chance to hear some positive feedback from listeners. â€œAnything positive is very cool because thatâ€™s totally why weâ€™re doing the music,â€ says Raine. â€œI always wanted to make music because of all the other music from people that Iâ€™ve enjoyed so much. So if a few people actually enjoy it, thatâ€™s fantastic.â€
Now, however, more than just a few people enjoy it. Young Liars released their seven-song EP Homesick Future back in February 2011. It wasnâ€™t long before Nettwerk Music Group took notice and picked the band up. Nettwerk plans to officially release the EP this Januaryâ€”a big step up from Bandcamp, and a move that Raine knows will help the groupâ€™s music reach a far broader audience.
But while it might be tempting to sit back and watch the professionals slang their songs, Young Liars are already pounding out their second projectâ€”a full-length album expected to be out by fall. The guys have been demoing since November and hope to have the album done and named by the end of this month.
â€œWith the EP we just wanted to create any music that we could enjoy playing and would enjoy hearing,â€ says Raine. â€œWith this next album I think weâ€™re being more intentional.â€ The singer says theyâ€™re focusing more on album arrangement and the greater ideas behind the songs. â€œThe EP was written over a long period of time, so thereâ€™s a lot of different song ideas and a lot of different places where those song ideas came from. Weâ€™re trying to make the full length a little more cohesive.â€
Again, technology aids this aspect of the process as well. The band members share an online Dropbox where they all access and alter songs. For example, Raine can create a chord progression and send it along. Wesley Nickel, the bandâ€™s synth player, will work his â€œremixingâ€ magic. Heâ€™ll alter sounds or change the progression order; maybe heâ€™ll add a bridge or second bar. These modifications will prompt the guys to hear songs in a different way.
â€œIt makes it so itâ€™s not just my tiny scope of influence and creative writing that goes into the music,â€ says Raine. â€œItâ€™s a lot more than that.â€ Because each member has different interests and influences, they collaborate as much as possible. This ensures the songs come out right. Raine, Nickel and guitarist Angelo Ismirnioglou typically write chord progressions, while bassist Andrew Beck and drummer Tyler Badali help jam and flesh out the ideas.
The hope is that this combination will translate onto the stage. As creation and promotion of their music advances, itâ€™s paramount that Young Liars polish the performance element, too. â€œWe really want to make it a fun experience and we also want to make it, I donâ€™t want to say theatrical, but Iâ€™m going to say theatrical,â€ says Raine, which means lights, fog and high energy. That, and masks.
â€œThere was an experiment in masks, and I donâ€™t think we got it totally right yet so we ended up stopping,â€ he says. â€œIâ€™m not opposed to dressing up or wearing masks but weâ€™ve got to figure out why weâ€™re doing it and how weâ€™re doing it. Thatâ€™s part of the theatrical thing.â€
Performance aside, the guys take the technical side of stage production just as seriously. Theyâ€™ve worked with lighting technician George Gordon to help synchronize lights with their sounds and synth. â€œThat whole thing is really important. Weâ€™re there to play music and weâ€™re also there to bring people lighting technicians and other disciplines in as well,â€ says Raine. â€œThe further we go, hopefully the greater resources weâ€™ll have to do that.â€
But for now, Young Lairs just want to play more gigs, hopefully hit up some festivals during the summer, and figure out their bloody social media plan. â€œIt has been a good way for people to get in touch with us for sure, but itâ€™s been a bit complicated,â€ says Raine. â€œIâ€™m always trying to figure out when do I tweet on my account and when do I tweet on the band account.â€
And with five guys in the group, they havenâ€™t figured out who should do what or when. â€œItâ€™s a great way to engage people, but you have to figure out how you want to engage those people,â€ he says. â€œThe same goes for Facebook in a way. Weâ€™re still trying to figure out the best way to use it.â€
The rock star lifestyle isnâ€™t as simple as it used to be, it seems, but the dream is the same. â€œAt the end of the day, what we all want is to quit our day jobs and be able to write music and be able to play shows,â€ says Raine. â€œThatâ€™s what weâ€™re going to be shooting for next yearâ€”putting together an album that people can enjoy all over the world and that we can go play for them and support ourselves while doing it.â€
Tyler Laing is the Editor of Renegade Radio.