Published Nov 29, 2012Montreal/Toronto "Noh-wave" storm-bringers Yamantaka // Sonic Titan have had a hell of a year. They emerged seemingly from nowhere to capture a spot on the Polaris Music Prize shortlist for their debut album YT//ST, signed a deal with Paper Bag Records and premiered their own rock opera. Now the band are starting to write the next chapter, and it's going to be a lot more electronic.
Speaking to Exclaim!, drummer and multi-instrumentalist Alaska B prefaces future plans by putting their debut in context: it was meant as a soundtrack, not for live performance. "It was interesting to turn something we'd made in the studio with lo-fi technology then going, 'Okay, how do we do this live? How do we translate?' It required us to really embrace technology."
For Exclaim!'s newly published Where I Play feature, we recently visited the band's four-storey house of creativity, where every room in the Toronto house has something going on and electronic set-ups were a major part of the action.
"Our next record, we're taking the approach that we have all our gear set-up planned, our guitarist has a giant pedal board set up and we're just ready to do it," Alaska explains. "So it will affect our songwriting on the next record. I'll be playing with a different kit set-up playing with a different set of cymbals and mixing all the electronic elements.
"I use Ableton Live as an electronic artist. I've been working towards integrating it into my drum kit so I have layers of triggers; I can work with loops and live audio. Ableton gives you so many options. Kind of like what Brian Chippendale does in his solo work with Black Pus where he'll use triggers clipped on his drums."
As a former student of electro-acoustic composition at Montreal's Concordia University and with a dad who toured with an ARP synth back in the day, Alaska is very familiar with many generations and styles of electronics. Whatever happens, it's going to be heavy and original.
"[It will] allow us to do things live we could not do on our first tour and our first record because it wasn't designed or planned that way."
There is no date planned for the record just yet, but the band are already laying down scratch tracks at home. Could their recent contribution to the Paper Bag vs. Ziggy Stardust project be pointing to this new direction?