|Photo courtesy of Young Galaxy.|
Shapeshifting combines upbeat drum arrangements and electronic-based melodies- which may seem like a strange choice as their last album, 2009's indie rock-based Invisible Republic, was long listed for the Polaris Music Prize. However this time around Stephen Ramsay says the band, which also features Catherine McCandless and Stephen Kamp, resolved to challenge their own musicality; which is why the sublime sounds on Shapeshifting are noticeably divergent from the music found on Invisible Republic.
"We saw ourselves making similar choices every time we would make music. For this record we wanted to move away from the easy choices," Ramsay recalls. "So the evolution in some ways was a sort of very calculated choice. To move away from the way we made music in the past. So everything changed from the process of how we approached the writing to how we recorded it. The whole process of how we make music has been inverted in a way. So what you see is almost a negative impression of what we used to do and how we used to make music."
Ramsay and McCandless founded Young Galaxy in 2005 while residing in their native Vancouver. Their debut EP Swing Your Heartache was released in 2006 and Ramsay says Young Galaxy's inception was marred by hesitation and fickleness. Ramsay and McCandless began as friends, eventually becoming an item, and Ramsay encouraged McCandless to rock the mic.
"When the project began it was really just me working out my own initial interest in writing songs," Ramsay said. "Catherine was quite a shy singer and I always tried to get her involved. I knew she could sing but she wouldn't sing in front of people. We didn't really have any ambition. We just wanted to make music and write together. It was a good exercise for us as friends and as a couple. What you hear a lot in our early attempts at songs is me singing, but now Catherine sings mostly. At that time she was very shy and not as involved in the whole process. It was a gradual thawing out of our creativity until we were equals and that is where we are now."
When Ramsay was invited to play with Montréal super group Stars, the duo made the move to La Belle Province. In addition to the opportunity with Stars, Ramsay chose Montréal for the opportunities the city offers.
"We were trying to think of somewhere exciting to move to within Canada. Montréal is kind of the anti-thesis to Vancouver," Ramsay laughs. "The community and the city are ones we love and I think we will stay here for a long time."
Ramsay credits Stars with kick starting Young Galaxy's career and in 2007 they released their self-titled full length debut on Arts & Crafts. Yet after their self-titled release, they were told they were a losing endeavor economically and went independent with Invisible Republic, which would eventually find distribution through Fontana North. When Invisible Republic was long listed for the Polaris Music Prize, no one was more surprised than Ramsay.
"It didn't matter in a way," Ramsay said of their Polaris nomination. "We didn't need validation but in a way it was validating. It wasn't a question of whether the record was any good. It was more just the fact that not many people had heard it. So when that came along it came a long time after the record came out and we had no expectations."
Fan's expectations for Shapeshifting are high as Dan Lissvik, of the band Studio, produced the album over nine months in Sweden.
"We knew he would be able to hone it into something that was ready for listeners," Ramsay said.
Witness a supernova on the stage, featuring a pregnant McCandless, when Young Galaxy comes to a city near you in March. Their tour includes stops in Ottawa, Toronto and American dates.
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