Canadian band ‘Texture & Light’ form a unique sound of Electronic/shoegaze.
We are interviewing Trevor of Texture & Light, how are you today?
Trevor Refix Mervyn: I’m great, thanks. I’m just taking a break from my recording hibernation to do this interview, so it’s a nice change up.
I understand that you guys are breaking into the electronic scene, how is that going?
TM: I’m not sure if we’re breaking in to the electronic scene, or breaking out of the electronic scene, it’s up for debate. I come from a 12 year career as a deep house DJ, this is my first band. We play equally alongside bands and DJs / electronic artists. Whatever the classification, it’s going really great. Wherever we play, we’re the most electronic band or the most live electronic act.
So Texture & Light is a big change for you then?
TM: A big change, but a necessary one. The music and production style that T&L embodies has been my dominant style / passion since about 2006, but going from a DJ or a one man producer to a band is a huge change.
What bought about this change?
TM: A combination of things really. As a DJ that was getting into producing my own tracks, I was getting really uninspired with the basic formula that a Dj-able track has to have. And the records I was buying and playing out (this was back in about 2005) were just so damn good compared to what I was making too. Not in a depressing way, but in a way that I was playing the best tracks I could find in my sets and they were just in a different league. I also grew up on a steady diet of Nine Inch Nails and the like, so combining elements of electronic and instrumentation was just natural to me. While in the midst of being a DJ, I started a love affair with indie rock, and as soon as I stopped paying attention to tempo, patterns, and intros in my productions and started just making music that I wanted to listen to, everything changed. I bought a guitar. I bought synthesizers. I holed up for a long time.
What does a person hear when they hear T&L for the first time?
TM: Well I’m hoping that they hear something that blurs the lines a bit, and makes them think. And dance. I think everyone gets so wrapped up in labels and decisions based on said labels. I do it too, but the cool part about being in a band that (attempts to) bridge the gap between electronic and indie music is that it means there’s a chance for a fan of each individual genre to be exposed to something that leans in the other direction. When we’re playing shows with DJs, some of those people would never go see a band with a guitar in it and likewise when we’re playing a show with a rock band, we break all the unspoken rules about what a live band is.
Who sings in T&L?
TM: Oh, that’s me. The first album is all me (writing, producing, performing, recording) save for a couple tracks have a percussion line from a Soundcloud friend in the states, and one track has a guitar line that a friend played. The remixes on our SC are more collaborative between Lyell and me so that we could get our work-flow figured out for making a new album. They’re probably more true to the direction our sound is heading.
So, you write in solo mode most of the time, then send your songs to your other members?
TM: I always write in solo mode. always have. For the new stuff I’m doing the writing and laying down the structural elements and then Lyell adds touches of this and that from his hardware. We sequence the stuff together, or rather I now have someone whose opinion I trust when I need to decide where a song needs to go. Once the track is basically laid out and recorded, Lyell does the editing / effecting / engineering. And around and round we go.
How many members now in T&L?
TM: There’s 3 of us in T&L now. The third member is my wife, Clare. She isn’t involved in the writing process (yet anyways though, a lot of the first album was certainly inspired by her), but her creative stamp is all over the band, she’s in charge of the visual elements and design. She’s also an integral multi instrument playing part of the live band.
I’ve been listening to your album “The Hard Problem of Consciousness”, a mix of indie, electronic, even a little 8-bit. How are you growing as a musician going down this path?
TM: Oh, I’m growing as a musician immensely. I feel that I have to be a lot more accountable to the sounds I make when I’m standing on stage with a microphone, a guitar and some synthesizers. There’s nowhere to hide. My band mate Lyell (joined about a year and a half ago) has been a big influence on my skill set / goals as a musician. He’s got a degree in recording engineering, and teaches music for a living,(pretty much the exact opposite of my self taught ways) but we have similar tastes in sounds – we just approach them from opposite ends of the spectrum and come to them from opposite experiences. He’s become my production partner, so the new album we’re working on will be a big leap forward, not just in the way that it will be recorded, but right down to the sounds themselves. We switched to an all hardware set up last year and now we’re synthesizing all of our own sounds which is just a whole new level of music in my opinion.
I really dig the song “Let’s Go, Let Go” , it calls to me from the Shoegaze days I’ve always enjoyed with the likes of Starflyer 59
TM: Thanks. I’m not familiar with Starflyer 59, but I’ll check it out. Getting into bands that people compare you to is this totally unexpected bonus of making music. In the past year I’ve developed a major love affair with Mercury Rev and Telefon Tel Aviv after separate reviewers compared us to them.
I noticed there is a more moody vibe going on with “17th And Heather”.
TM: Oh yeah, that was my attempt at writing an industrial love song. The vocals on that track are probably the oldest thing on the album actually, a majority of the album was re written and re recorded in 2012, once I left the city to start life in a small town, but those vocals were tracked in a shitty apartment in Vancouver with paper thin walls and was just me singing through guitar pedals. Try as I might, I couldn’t re create it once I went back to re record the album in a proper space.
Since Canada is overflowing with talent these days, it’s like the States are under another British Invasion, only this time it’s BC. How is your music being received there?
TM: It has it’s challenges, but I’m starting to realize that Canada is a great place to be an artist, providing you don’t have illusions of fast found fame and glory. It’s just physically too damn big and the cities are spread out to really get your music out there in front of people in a hurry. It’s more of a slow burn which I think in the long run makes for better art, or better disposition anyways. The cool thing is, that means that there’s 1000s of smaller towns / venues full of people just craving live music so it’s actually a really supportive place to be an artist if you’re willing to put in the effort to get to these places. Or get over your perceived ideas of what a venue / show / festival is. This creates a real family feel with other artists that we meet, we’re all doing the same thing but it feels less like competition and more like family. I may just have rose colored glasses on right now though haha.
I agree. It seems as if the music industry is changing that old way, who’s the best one on top. But the indie world is very supportive, so I can see how Canada would be no different. Also the songs on ˜The Hard Problem of Consciousness” are very well put together, are you playing on CBC?
TM: CBC’s been really good to us. The single from THPC , “A Quiet Place” was in high rotation on CBC Radio 3 and ended up being voted onto the top of their weekly R3-30 chart for 6 weeks last year. They listed AQP as one of the top tracks of 2013 as well.We’ve gotten a lot of support from community and campus stations too, those are the people that are doing what they do in the scene just for the love it and it’s great that they’ve found a place for a our music in their lexicon.
It needed to happen, and people are benefiting from it. Perhaps #WEATNU is like a
virtual Canada, but based in the States.
I think true art and true music is being appreciated everywhere to a degree, it just has room to grow through the cracks more when there’s more space. When I lived in the city, I went to shows every week and missed at least as many as I went to that I wanted to go to- never-mind the ones that I wasn’t familiar with. Being based in a small town now (this applies to our country on some level too), I find that it’s easier to just go see an unfamiliar show, and be pleasantly surprised. I think what you and #WEATNU are doing is in the same spirit, helping small people with big ideas for the same communal goal.
Do you get the urge to do more centered Electronic music, or are you indeed trying to target a wider audience by playing the shoegaze/indie pop scene?
TM: I actually find that most electronic fans are pretty open minded towards genres and what music or art is. Chances are they’ve had some really great times in front of records, cdjs, laptops, mcs, etc etc, so their kind of up for anything that works. I find turning on people that have only experienced “live music” (aka no electronics, though guitar pedals and the like don’t seem to count but that’s a tangent) have a big invisible barrier in terms of what art, music, or talent is which “let’s be honest“ can get in the way of their experience. But I’ll get off my high horse, because even though I try not to, I do that too sometimes. I honestly do not think about the audience at all when I’m making music. For me to want to do this, spend the time, the effort, and “my god, the money” I need to just make music that makes me happy. Music that I think is good. That’s the only way for this to be sustainable for me.
That is true, and if you grew up during the 90s (such as myself), you appreciate a wider sound all the way back to the 80s, and beyond. It’s always refreshing to hear thatthe music is the driving force,not the gain.
TM: We do think of the audience when we build a live set ; from what songs we play, to how they’re sequenced, to who’s playing what, to how much to deviate from the original, etc etc. That’s a whole different beast though! That’s about the audience 100%. The music that I make is for me, first and foremost but then once you have created something that you love, the next step is sharing it with others, and off you go on various infinite feedback loops.
What changes can we expect on your future projects?
TM: Well the future is wide open isn’t it? The line in the sand was drawn earlier this year when I started buying and producing / playing on hardware. Now I feel like there’s 100’s of hours of music inside me that really just needs the time to come out. I can be certain that synthesizing my own sounds will be a guiding force from now on. I’ve really gotten into field recording too, and loading the samples into a hardware sequencer to be mangled too. That’s just too much fun. I just made a track the other day that the whole drum loop is samples of me chopping wood for instance.
Having access to Lyell’s brain means that everything from here on it will also be at a much higher level then anything I was making before. So as you can see, I’m pretty excited. 15 years into making music and I’m just getting started. Sampling takes you places you can’t imagine, just 2 years ago I began the journey of the avant-garde and it just keeps getting deeper. Both being in a band and switching to hardware have really made me excited to think that anything I make I can perform live as well, that opens up a whole new world of possibilities in my mind. When I first started making indie / electronic with instruments and vocals etc, simply taking that 100 hours of work and all that instrumentation and burning it to a cd to play on a CDJ seemed like a soul crushing thing. I’m happy to say that 8 years after I first started thinking like that, that doing that wouldn’t even register as an option anymore
You have let us know much about the sound of Texture & Light, yourself, your members, the future, but what I’m dying to know is, do you like your coffee black or with sugar?
TM: I like my coffee black as a dead dog’s eye.
Thank you for doing an interview with WEATNU Digital Magazine today, we wish you
the best of luck, to your music and future.
TM: Thanks a lot Almark, this was great. I think it’s great what you and #WEATNU are doing and I look forward to growing together.