What do you get when you combine the start of a worldwide tour and the release of a highly-anticipated album on the same day? Ask Lord Huron’s founder and frontman, Ben Schneider, and he’ll say a pretty damn exciting journey ahead.
The band’s third album, Vide Noir, released April 20, is already receiving accolades for its raw, lyrical storytelling from songs like “Wait by the River” and “When the Night is Over”. To engage fans at a deeper level, the band plans on creating immersive experiences that elevate the album’s narratives. Lord Huron’s tour includes a stop at Toronto’s Sony Centre on July 25, and at Osheaga in Montreal on August 4.
Schneider spoke to us about his love of storytelling, Raymond Chandler influences, and what it was like working with Flaming Lips’ producer David Fridmann.
G—You grew up in Michigan. Is that where your interest in music began?
BS—There was always music on at our house, and I remember imagining the people the songs were about. The storytelling of songs is what’s always captured me most. As time went on, I was able to convince my parents to let me play bass in the orchestra, which led to me playing bass guitar with my friends, who still play music with me in the band. It’s strange to see how things have progressed for us since back then.
G—How did you transition from a solo artist to a band?
BS—Music started as a primary hobby while I was pursuing a career in painting and graphic design. During that time, I decided to make a couple of EPs and self-release them, with no expectations it would go anywhere. But then I started getting asked to play shows. I knew I couldn’t pull off the music myself in a live setting. The only musicians I knew were the guys I played with in high school, so I called Mark Berry (the drummer), who’s also one of my best friends and asked him if he’d be interested in playing one show with me. He said sure, came out, and never left. From there, we slowly gathered the rest of our buddies to join the band, and have been touring ever since.
G—You have a style to your music. Is this the type of music you’ve always gravitated toward when writing and performing?
BS—It goes back to the storytelling element of music. Traditionally, this gets associated with folk or rock and roll, which is what I listened to a lot growing up. But my interests definitely evolved over the years. I went through a hip hop phase, a punk phase, even dove deep into instrumental music. I’ve tried to soak up something from every stage I’ve gone through, and think this new album really reflects my musical journey in a way that is hopefully appealing to others.
G—You really started gaining exposure when your songs “Ends of the Earth” and “The Night We Met” were played on numerous TV shows. How was this experience for you?
BS—It was somewhat surreal to me because of the circumstances. I had taken a few months off to travel abroad and was mainly off the grid when this all started happening. I’d hear from my manager every now and then, and he’d tell me the songs were taking off, but I didn’t really understand what that meant. It wasn’t until I came back and started booking this tour that I could feel something happening. It’s kind of similar to when your song starts getting played on the radio. But now, there’s this other platform (TV) that seems to be more acceptable than it has been in the past, and it seems to be resonating with a lot of people. I’m always happy to turn people on to our music however we can.
G—Now that you have a couple albums under your belt, does the release of your new album, Vide Noir, feel different?
BS—Not really. One thing we were able to do differently this album was time it better. Usually, the album will either come out and then we’ll eventually go on tour, or we’ll go on tour and the album will come out in the middle of it. This time, it comes out the day we start the tour, which makes it feel more like an auspicious day. We’re more proud of this than anything we’ve done before, and are excited to hear what people think of it.
G—Tell me about the genesis behind Vide Noir.
BS—The way it generally starts for me is with fragments of ideas, songs or melodies that I’ll collect over time while touring, then re-explore once I have a break. I also found myself driving around L.A. at night to clear my head, at which time, I started conceiving this character going on a nocturnal odyssey through the city, encountering different types of people, music and experiences. I took this and worked on finding a way to express it through the songs on this album.
G—How does this compare to your previous LPs?
BS—We’ve touched on some of the bigger questions on our previous albums. But I think we take that further on this one, especially when it comes to life and our place in this universe.
G—I’ve read that Vide Noir was inspired by novelist Raymond Chandler. In what way would you say this record is Chandler-esque?
BS—I like extreme situations where human experiences are laid bare, which I think is true of a lot of Chandler’s fiction. That’s what always intrigued me about his writing—the world he created, and all the strange characters who lived in it. Living in Los Angeles, I see the echoes of this very vivid, evocative landscape he painted so long ago. I think this album presents an updated version of that world he so eloquently described. It’s colorful and interesting, much like his writings.
G—You collaborated with producer David Fridmann, known for his work with the Flaming Lips, MGMT and Tame Impala. How did those experiences filter into the new record?
BS—When I was first writing the album, I had David in mind because of the types of sounds and spaces I wanted to create. His name has popped up on so many albums I have liked over the last 25 years of my life, so I knew he’d bring something special to the album that could help me tell these stories. I learned a lot from him—not only sonically—but personally. He’s such an incredible guy who has a strong point of view, but does it in a way that is ego-less. He shares his opinions in a way that you know is solely to make the music better. And he’s found a way to balance his work and life, which is something I value a lot.
G—Was this recorded at his Tarbox Studios in West New York?
BS—We actually recorded the album at our studio in Whispering Pines, and then mixed it at Tarbox.
G—So, where is the ideal place to listen to Vide Noir?
BS—It’s really up where you feel most at ease. I think for this record, find a place where you can feel comfort and openness. Close your eyes and open your mind, and see where the music takes you.
A few years ago, Danielle McTaggart was ready to throw in the towel on her music career. Now she and her husband, Drew, make up the powerhouse duo known as Dear Rouge and have two full-length albums and a Juno to their name. Known for their hook-driven tracks—and being “the nicest couple in Canadian music”—Dear Rouge just dropped their sophomore LP, Phases. The record recounts a season of emotional extremes for the couple, including winning the 2016 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, and losing a loved one. We caught up with Danielle over the phone to talk about finding joy in music again, and the personal and public significance of Phases. G—On your website, you describe your style as “sinewy, hook-driven indie rock”. Where did that particular style evolve from? DM—I was always very into hook-y music with beautiful melodies. I grew up listening to The Carpenters and they have beautiful melodic parts, but I also always loved harder music and really rock-driven music. Bands like Metric or Yeah Yeah Yeahs or St. Vincent were hugely motivating for me, and I loved that these frontwomen were powerhouses. They’re very confident and trying to push the boundaries while
Morgan Saint was born into a creative life. Upon growing up in Mattituck, NY with a family of musicians on her mother’s side and parents who worked in interior design, Saint graduated from Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, where she has lived for the past six years. With a major in illustration and a focus on photography and graphic design, Saint has executed a clear vision of her musical artistry. In 2017, at the age of 23, Saint released her debut EP, 17 Hero, on Epic Records. She is a storyteller at heart, combining all of her talents to reveal her narrative as truthfully as possible, one vignette at a time, as seen in all three of the EP’s videos, “Glass House”, “You”, and “Just Friends”. She co-produced each glossy, beautifully choreographed, and high-definition clip with Nathan Crooker, but the lyrics are all hers. They come from personal places yet are vague enough to be relatable. Her electronic pop is lo-fi, but you’ll most likely find yourself snapping your fingers to it. As Saint prepared for a sold-out show supporting Missio in Austin, Texas, Georgie connected with her to discuss coming into her own as a songwriter and
Listening to any track on EDEN’s debut album, vertigo, is like visiting your favourite city for the fiftieth time except nothing is quite where you remember it. The hotel is on the river, not by the park, and city hall is upside down. The Dublin-raised singer/songwriter/producer who began his career as The Eden Project, melted the best of indie, hip hop, and electronica into 13 deconstructed tracks for vertigo. Following two successful EPs, a shout-out from Lorde, and mid-way through the vertigo world tour, we caught up with EDEN to talk about his new record, and the musical evolution that brought him to it. G—From The Eden Project to the EPs to vertigo, you’ve had some pretty big changes in style. Does it feel that way to you or does it just kind of feel like you’re constantly evolving? E—I definitely see that. There are similarities [between I think you think too much of me and vertigo]—my voice still sounds the same (laughs) and there are various instruments that I just like using—but it’s about progression for me. I could never be someone to make End Credits 2 or something like that. It’s not interesting to me to stay