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James Wyatt Crosby is making his debut album. “With what we’ve recorded so far, it feels like I can finally stand behind my music without making excuses about it.” Crosby continues, “I used to hide behind this self-deprecation thing, you know, talking down about myself and my songs, but I think that was me trying to hide how much I really cared—I guess I didn’t want to seem too proud. It’s definitely fun and easy to slip into that sort of negative thought cycle and just say ‘I’m shit! I’m shit! Everything is shit!’ but that gets old pretty quick and it’s way more rewarding to genuinely believe in yourself and to see your ideas as being valid. I don’t doubt myself as much as I used to, I’m less critical that way.”
In January 2017, Crosby left his band Garbagio to pursue his long-held aspirations of completing a full-length album. “I loved playing live with that band. There’s something intensely satisfying about playing bars or house shows where people, even a small group of people, are reacting to something you’re doing. I never thought I’d be able to connect to a crowd like that and those shows and all those people involved in the band and in that little scene had a huge impact on me. They made me feel like I was doing something right.”
“Pray On It” is the second single off of Crosby’s forthcoming album. “I wrote the original demo a few years ago, when I was in a bit of a creative lull and I was working in this long term care facility in my hometown,” explains Crosby. “It was pretty intense because these elderly people were dying in front of me almost every day. It was a strange period for me, but it made me take stock of what I was doing. It made me get my shit together and start being creative again.”
The song originally evolved from a sample of an old piece of medieval choral music. “The sampled track was in Italian, but to me, the sample sounded like the words ‘Pray On It’ so the lyrics in the verses came from that. As far as the lyrics go, I think it was me basically talking to myself and trying to pump myself up and give myself an empowering message,” explains Crosby.
As for his debut album, Crosby is a little more tight-lipped on the subject. “I don’t want to say too much because it’s still a work in progress, but it’s definitely a really varied album. I wanted all the songs to be really catchy and singable because that’s what I like most about my favourite songs. I’m having a lot of fun working with different musicians and making these songs the best they can be. I’m excited to see how people react to them when we finally release them.”
James Wyatt Crosby is a multi-genre musician, producer and recording artist from Southern Ontario, Canada. He is currently recording his debut album “Twins” which will be released on Hamilton, Ontario-based label Maisonneuve Music on September 15, 2017.
COMMON DEER – http://www.commondeermusic.com/
DIZZY SPELLS – https://soundcloud.com/dizzyspells
SOUND OF SEPARATION
Some artists want to shine a light in the darkness. Common Deer come with an arsenal of floodlights. Music is a balm in anxious, isolated times. In the hands of this powerful Toronto quintet, it’s a vessel of uplift, a call for camaraderie, an act of resistance against jaded nihilism. Though not explicitly political, the lyrics of vocalists Graham McLaughlin (guitar, violin) and Sheila Hart (keyboards) reflect the zeitgeist: addressing the anxiety of the modern age, crying out for a sense of connection, driven by a sense of carpe diem that stems from personal tragedy. “Trying to create light in the darkness; it’s a mentality we share,” says Graham. They’re not blind optimists peddling escapism, though their live shows are joyous, celebratory affairs, rich with rousing, orchestral pop sound built for festival stages. Common Deer began in 2013 with Graham, drummer Liam Farrell and multi-instrumentalist Adam Hart, who met while backing up a folk singer in Guelph, Ontario, where most of them were attending university. (Adam attended Wilfrid Laurier University for Honours Music Performance) Liam brought in his brother Connor to solidify the rhythm section, while Adam called on his sister, Sheila, to harmonize with Graham and add her own keyboards, lead vocals and her own songs. Previously, her creative outlet was poetry and short stories; Graham had been writing pop songs since he was 11. In both their harmonies and their shared leads, they create a male-female dynamic rarely heard in pop music outside of Stars, an admitted influence. As if two lead singers weren’t enough, competing for an audience’s attention is Adam, who juggles cello, synth and lead guitar; he is Common Deer’s not-so-secret weapon.Together with Graham, their string arrangements elevate the band’s sound beyond an everyday rock band; as a rhythm section, Liam and Connor also take an orchestral approach to their arrangements. There is never a dull moment on stage at a Common Deer show. Rather than rush their early demos online, it took Common Deer almost three years to prepare their first EP, recorded with producer Laurence Currie (Hey Rosetta!, Wintersleep) and released in January 2017. It was worth the wait, presenting a major new talent with the vivid sonic space they deserve to inhabit. The new follow-up EP, simply titled II, came together much more quickly: recorded in Toronto with Gus Van Go (Arkells, Whitehorse) over two weeks, balancing the energy of their live shows with electronic percussion, layered strings, and an increased synth presence. Their sense of ambition coalesces in the final track, “Gone,” which features a noir-ish new wave synth lead, a Drake-inspired beat on the verses, Beach Boys harmonies on the chorus, and a double-kick-drum beat on the outro that channels Liam’s hard rock influence and satisfies Adam and Sheila’s love of metal. The only weird thing about it is that it works. It’s that same sense of ambition that has catapulted Common Deer from most-promising status to that of serious contenders. They’ve got talent, smarts, youth, the songs and the sonics to make their story an uncommon success.