Published Jul 29, 2010We first caught wind of Vancouver, BC pop maestros Jay Arner and Megan McDonald when they played together in indie rock ensemble International Falls. Fast-forward a few years and the pair now make up dance-worthy outfit Fine Mist, who are at long last getting set to release their debut album on September 14.
The record is called Public Domain - a name that might be considered an act of self-sabotage for an up-and-coming band who just pressed 500 vinyl copies of the record. Rather than encouraging theft, the duo explain that the title is actually a double meaning.
"Lyrically, the album is very much in the public domain," says singer McDonald, referring to her forthright and emotional style of songwriting.
Speaking to Exclaim! while taking a pre-show breather just outside of Vancouver's Honey Lounge, synth wizard Arner chimes in, "Megan was kind of worried about the title, thinking that it would actually put the songs in the public domain. And we were thinking, 'Should we call a lawyer?' I think it will be fine. We've got SOCAN."
Fine Mist needn't be too worried about claiming ownership of their songs, as they have already collected their first royalty cheque. "An unreleased song was played on [UBC radio station] CiTR and SOCAN was tracking and so I think we made $4 from it," laughs Arner.
Copyright issues aside, there's no denying that Public Domain is the perfect title for the album, which takes an angsty, romantic approach to synth-dazzled electro pop. Songs like "Stop or Start" and "Because It's the Ocean" mix Arner's dance floor-ready beats and buzzy synth lines with McDonald's quavering, dramatic vocals and heartbroken lyrics. In fact, Fine Mist have offered up a free download of "Stop or Start".
"Everything's so transparent," McDonald says of the album's 11 songs. "There's no time to tell people things in such a way that they won't be able to figure it out. What's the point in that?"
The words are mostly autobiographical, something that's an occasional source of social embarrassment for the singer. "These aren't about strangers, they're about people I spend my time with," she admits. "So it gets a little awkward, but, y'know, I made my bed. I'm literally going to lie in it."
In addition to being musical collaborators, Arner and McDonald are roommates, and they recorded Public Domain in their apartment. "I bribe Megan with wine," jokes Arner. "She's a procrastinator so I'm like, 'I got you this wine! I'm going out! Let's see what happens...'"
And what takes place when he leaves McDonald alone in an apartment with alcohol and recording gear? "I hold the glass of wine and dance around by myself while recording," she says. "Those are the final versions."
In keeping with this DIY style, the band have opted to issue Public Domain without a label, with some additional funding provided by From Blown Speakers blogger (and occasional Exclaim! contributor) Quinn Omori. See the tracklist below and the album cover above. You can also stream some album tracks (plus a few remixes) over at MySpace.
1. "Palm Trees"
2. "O Wake"
3. "I Can't Stand It"
4. "Because It's the Ocean"
5. "Under the Covers"
6. "In the Mountains"
7. "Cut Me Off"
8. "Stop or Start"
9. "Heart Attack"
10. "When No One's Home"
11. "Murder Murder"