Published Jul 08, 2013For most of his life, Vancouver-based multi-instrumentalist Jay Arner has been hiding behind synthesizers, drum kits and recording booth panels as a bit player in numerous bands, from the indie pop of International Falls and more recent act Bleating Hearts to the cool dance anthems of Fine Mist. Now, with the Mint Records release of his debut solo full-length, he's finally taken the front and centre spot.
"Being a solo artist is inherently ridiculous, but I don't care about sheltering my ego anymore," Arner says. "There are so many bands and band names now it's hard to make a good one — so many are meaningless. A real name is meaningless in a purer way. 'Going solo' is such a great rock trope I had to do it and see if I could make it not terrible."
He succeeded. Jay Arner sees the artist dig into Bowie-esque synth pop, signature Mint indie rock and the occasional segment of dreamy crooning. If anything, he fits right in with a rich history of Jays, from Jeremy Jay's slacker disco through Jay Reatard's love of the short-and-quick pop song and Jay Ferguson's secret genius.
"A lot of people hear synthesizers and go 'You're the '80s!' I love New Order but I really consider this modern music," Arner says. "It sounds like a bunch of decades smooshed together in a computer."
As for how he arrives at such terse, hook-laden pop songs, Arner's method is fairly straightforward. "I usually hear something in my head that sounds like a piece of a song, a vague band sound with a melody on top, and I follow it along and hear what the other parts might be," he says. "If I don't want to glorify it, it's the same thing as everyone that absentmindedly sings nonsense to themselves. 'Doot doot doo doo da dee da doo.' Like Homer Simpson. It's the full band version of that."
Now that the album's out, Arner's hopes range from "modest goals" ("I'd like the listener to gain a sense of Jay-ness") to "stupidly ambitious goals." Though he cites a lack of confidence that held him back in the past, he's ready to take on the spotlight head on. "I'm older now and more or less over teen-style self-hate," he says. "I'm a cool solo artist guy now."