You Say Party (formerly You Say Party! We Say Die!) have been through a lot together. Starting from their first punk show in a church basement in Abbotsford, BC, in 2004, the band's schedule snowballed over the next six years as they went from tour to tour and put out three LPs in between. In 2010, this momentum came to a screeching halt with the sudden death of their drummer Devon Clifford. In response, the band took a much needed break to breathe, recover and assess their individual and collective needs.
What also came from this break is You Say Party's self-titled album out today (February 12) on Paper Bag. It's a recording that's filled with sprawling electronic soundscapes and is unlike anything the band have previously released. It's also marked by a calm and confidence that, as You Say Party's lead singer Becky Ninkovic tells Exclaim!, reflects the state of the band.
"A lot of who we are or what we've been going through is all coming out in these new songs," she says. "The whole process with this new stuff has really been about practising ease and restraint, holding back and relaxing."
This ease was key in the making of You Say Party, whose eight tracks developed very gradually out of jam sessions. "At some point we had some talks about just how pleasant it was to not be loud. Also to not be in a hurry to fill up the space like we used to be," Ninkovic says of their new sound. Alongside this natural sonic growth, You Say Party came to better understand their current relationship with music and how they want to present it.
"We all realized that we don't have any interest revisiting our old material, which made us decide that at this point, we're not a live performance band," she explains. "That freed us to make whatever music we want and to not be who we were. We're not who we were."
Although this album marks a new period for You Say Party, the past is still present. From the melancholic instrumentals to much of the lyrics — particularly "Friend," the band's haunting tribute to Clifford — a sadness is very present. But for Ninkovic and the band, the album represents how far they've come together and consequently, is a source of happiness and pride.
"Sadness is in the mix, but I don't feel sad when I listen to it," says Ninkovic. "I think some people didn't want us to come out with something sad. When people go through death and tragedy, there are a lot of uncomfortable feelings for people. They're not sure how to navigate through all of it and how honest to be. For me, we found a way to be ourselves through it all. To embrace some of those darker places and at the same time, move through them.
"I really went through a period of time where I did not think that we would ever make anything again or that I would be able to make anything again. To get to a place where we are, that feels really good."
Tonight the group will host a launch party at Milk Glass in Toronto. The following week, the band will have a second party at the Lido in Vancouver on February 20. Full information for the Toronto party can be found here, while updates on the Vancouver event can be tracked here.