Young Galaxy Discuss the Inner Workings of 'Ultramarine'

Young Galaxy Discuss the Inner Workings of 'Ultramarine'
Young Galaxy reinvented their sound with 2011's Shapeshifting, thanks in part to a collaboration with Swedish electronic whiz Dan Lissvik. They also re-teamed with the former Studio member for the follow-up, Ultramarine, which you can stream now on Exclaim.ca ahead of its April 23 release date via Paper Bag Records.

Although this was the Montreal-based band's second time working with Lissvik, it was by no means a repeat of their initial experience.

"The first record [Shapeshifting], he mixed for us, so we recorded it and, once finished with it, sent it entirely to him and worked on it alone, and we just had Skype contact," singer Catherine McCandless recalls in a recent Exclaim! interview.

The new album, on the other hand, was laid down in close collaboration with Lissvik in Gothenburg, Sweden.

"It lent the recording a sort of camaraderie," McCandless says. "There was a lot of miming of something we were trying to describe. It wasn't always needing to be articulated. It could be danced, or someone could just make a drum pattern sound with their mouth. It was a much more lively and in-the-moment kind of interaction, and a much less solitary one. There was no alone time. We were all together all the time."

Recording in Sweden and freed from the habits of their daily lives back in Canada, the musicians were free to take risks and experiment with unfamiliar sounds. You'll hear this sonic diversity in the electro-cabaret stomp of "Fever," the pseudo world percussion of "Fall for You" and the barroom-style piano on the funky "Out the Gate Backwards."

"There's a lot of things like that, where they're counterintuitive in a lot of ways, but that we wanted to try out," McCandless says. "With something like that piano line [on 'Out the Gate Backwards'], you look at some of the early '90s English [bands], like Happy Mondays, Stone Roses. You get some of those barroom sounds going in there, and they mesh perfectly with other seemingly very different elements, more electronic elements. We were after that shambolic, chaotic, rambling, really danceable shakers-and-rhythm-based sound."

While the band make a big statement with their eclectic, synth-driven arrangements, the singer notes that they avoided writing lyrically-driven songs. Many of words were chosen for their phonetic qualities, with meaning taking a backseat to the overall sonic effect. The title, Ultramarine, reflects this thematic ambiguity.

She offers, "We wanted to choose an album title that didn't mean too much, so we thought a colour would be a better representation of the album than a noun, for example, or a phrase or something like that. The colour just seemed suggestive of the port city we were in, some of the moods in the songs, the bittersweet [emotion]."

Having had such a good experience working with Lissvik, McCandless says that Young Galaxy may well choose to join forces with him again when the band get around to recording their next album.

"We've definitely found a comfort zone with Dan. Whether that means that we'll work together with him again as a band, I don't know. We'll have to see what comes up at the time of writing the next one. I anticipate we probably will work with him again on it. It went really well."

Until then, listen to Ultramarine in full over here.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, we've had to pull the stream until next Monday (April 22). Please return then to listen. We apologize sincerely for any inconvenience.