Published Sep 10, 2014It's been a long road charting a course of creative metamorphosis from conception to completion of eclectic Toronto songwriter Valery Gore's third solo offering, the newly released Idols in the Dark Heart. Her previous records, 2005's self-titled debut and 2008's lauded Avalanche to Wandering Bear, traded in sophisticated, deceptively complex pop songs built on an organic foundation of jazzy instrumentation. The under-heralded tunesmith took a different approach, born of experimentation and necessity, with her latest effort, explaining to Exclaim! how her process evolved to adapt to an increasingly techno-centric environment.
"I got into Logic more than GarageBand and started to learn my way around that program and realized how much more I could flesh out the songwriting and the arrangements on my own," Gore says. "I always did that anyway but I would write it down — you know, manuscript it — and I'd sit at a piano. This way, it was a lot easier to create from the ground up with something other than piano being the most important thing."
Moving from the technical to the artistic side of her progress, Gore recounts elements of her listening diet and overseas tour schedule that played a part in shaping the development of her newfound approach.
"I've always been into electronic elements in singer-songwriter music, like Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears, and it all started to come back to me. I was also travelling a bit and I got into — especially while we were making the record — a bunch of German bands like the Notwist and Moderat. I went to Germany a couple of times and was falling in love with that blend of organic instrumentation and electronic instrumentation. I was also getting into people like Matthew Dear and Son Lux, where those two worlds meet."
Elaborating on the current trajectory of popular music synthesis, Gore says, "It seems that music is going that way and might stay that way. Personally, I think it's awesome; a lot of people don't. I find there's a lot of fluff out there. It's so simple to play music now; anybody can do it. You can just push one button and you've got an arpeggiator. Some of the iPad apps you can just strum and it'll stay in key, like the polychord and stuff, which I love to play with, but it's nice when you know a little bit about the theory of music."
Reasons of artistic exploration aren't the only ones nudging the accomplished performer into the embrace of digital technology, as Gore laments the difficulty of funding a large ensemble of flesh and blood players.
"I think it's a smart move for artists because it's so much harder to pay your band these days; inevitably you have to trim down your band. We're doing a couple full band shows for the release but after that I'm going to be trying to do it with just Devin, my bass player and co-producer of this record, because I just can't afford to pay everybody; I lose money constantly. I think that's another initiative to see how much you can build this world around you; but I still have so much pride in actually playing, so I don't want to go completely hands-off with the instrumentation but I think it's a smart move to fill in gaps while playing with less people."
You'll be able to catch one of those rare fully human gigs when Gore and her band do a series of release shows starting near the end of September. Find them below with more dates to be announced soon.
Idols in the Dark Heart is available now through Bandcamp and iTunes, and you can stream it in full below.
09/18 Wakefield, QC – The Black Sheep Inn
09/25 Toronto, ON – The Drake Hotel
10/04 Fort Erie, ON – The Sanctuary
11/29 Montreal, QC - La Vitrola *
* with Mirel Wagner