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INTERVIEW: Yes We Mystic

Hi Keegan, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

We’ve been great! Our new album is out, we had our release show in Winnipeg on April 27th, and it was a super fun time. We’re feeling really good about the new songs and all of the art we’ve been making to surround the record and expand its world. It feels great to be back on the record cycle.

Can you talk to us more about your single ‘Please Bring Me to Safety?’ 

The lyrics come from a delusional episode I experienced at a music festival in Calgary. Basically, a handful of tiny, out of place elements present in a familiar environment caused me to look at that environment in a completely new and sinister light, and it ignited this intense panic in me. It’s about the times when those little thoughts that would normally just pass by stick, and then throw your whole reality into question. It’s about my own mental health, but it’s also about how little it takes to throw your perception of your subjective reality off balance. The whole song has this jittery, frenetic feel to it, which I feel pairs with the lyrical content really well.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

It was a really fun, really weird couple days. All of us and the performers from ‘Yes We Mystic II’ (the folks from the album cover) were pretty nervous and hesitant about how we were going to go about things. We were on this spinning wooden platform, so we felt that we should have things very controlled for everyone’s safety. So we’re all paired up, going over what moves we’re gonna do and stuff, and then at the 11th hour, we were all like, ‘it’ll look way better if we just go for it’, and we did. It was a great decision, there are so many amazing shots. It was also great to get Arne, the angry coach from the Ceilings video in there again. Big thanks to Solmund MacPherson, who directed that video.

The single comes off your new album Ten Seated Figures – what’s the story behind the title?

I wanted to give the album a title that had something to do with how many songs are on it, but also felt like the title of a painting or sculpture. I’m attracted to any work of art where a human subject is referred to as a ‘figure’. It has a wonderful, mysterious blankness to it. Your brain wants to fill that empty slate with some kind of persona or narrative. By happy coincidence, the five of us plus Yes We Mystic II makes ten people, so the idea for the album cover came very organically. Each seated figure on the cover loosely corresponds to a song on the record. I won’t say who is what though.

How was the recording and writing process? 

The writing process centred around a sense of spontaneous discovery. A decent chunk of the record was recorded right in our jam space, so there are lots of sounds that were recorded at the same time they were discovered. Adam produced this record so we had a lot more control over the record’s personality. The mad scientist approach made the whole process really fun.

How have Muse and Depeche Modeinfluenced your writing? 

Not in any conscious way, as far as I’m aware! I know Musehas a really dramatic thing going on with their music, but none of us are listeners.

What aspect of the unfamiliar did you get to explore on this record? 

Our main goal with the sonic landscape of Ten Seated Figures was to take instruments we’ve used from the beginning and disguise them under layers of effects until they become alien and implacable. For instance, mandolin is all over the record, but it’s very hard to tell. There’s a lot of songs that feature chopped up or distorted vocals, which I like a lot. The idea was to mirror the themes of the album – false memory, personal mythology, and self-fictionalization – in the way the songs sounded. Things get warped as time passes, and we sometimes don’t recognize the things that we used to, or we bend and mutate them to create a suitable narrative on which to base who we are. To what extent are we simply amalgams of our own fictions?

Where else did you find inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

The songs are mostly fictionalized versions of personal stories and completely made up stuff. Panthalassa and Felsenmeer were both just really interesting words that I read in books and then did research on. They’re ominous, elemental words that ended up serving as great metaphors for some of the stuff I wanted to write about. Win Ben Stein’s Money is the name of an early 2000’s game show. It was originally a placeholder lyric in the chorus, but it sounded so good that I kept it and made the whole song about a guy who fantasizes about going on a game show. I also really like Cormac McCarthy, his prose made a huge impression on me. the whole second verse of Italics is about the first page of his novel Outer Dark. 

Any plans to hit the road?

We’re on the road right now! We’re touring in Europe for the month of May. We played our first show yesterday in Brighton for The Great Escape festival and we’re playing a Sofar Sounds show in London tonight. Complete tour dates are on our social media and at yeswemystic.com!

15th  Leeds – The Lending Rooms

17th  Wrexham – Focus Wales – Ty Pawb

18th  Wrexham – Focus Wales – Undegun

20th  Bristol – Crofters Rights

21st  London – Thousand Island

Listen here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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