Swide's Ben Taylor met up with Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus of Canadian elctro outfit Junior Boys during the European leg of their tour to talk to the about current LP 'It's All True', recording and Orson Welles.
Known for their densely layered electro/synthpop, Junior Boys have been gathering their listeners since their first EP 'Birthday/Last Exit', which was released almost a decade ago. Four LPs later and a change of line up, they feel that have rediscovered the joy of writing music and and the work that goes into making an album.
Jeremy, I understand that your Grandmother grew up in England, Leamington Spa. I'm from the same area, have you ever had the chance to visit?
J - Yes, my grandmother grew up in lemington spa and I was was able to visit her local area when I lived and worked in Birmingham. I worked for Rich Bitch Studios. My job was working on a lot of Musak, you know elevator music, but they had these rehearsal studios there where Industrial bands would be there; Scorn, Napalm Death and one of the guys from Duran Duran had his own studio there. But I mainly worked with the bands that would come in off the streets, which would have 10 hours to record 3 songs.
Now talking about 'It's All True'. I understand that Orson Welles' 'F for Fake' was a huge influence for you. Why?
J - I always liked him and at the time that I was being very self-reflective after we'd come off doing the album we did before, 'Begone Dull Care', and a lot of the experiences of doing that album gave me a sort of bad taste about marketing, music, of being a performer/artist and all of that kind of stuff and I was thinking about different ways about how to express that and I wasn't sure how to do that or whether it was uncool or self indulgent to comment on that sort of thing. Then we saw 'F for Fake' and that was what Orson Welles was doing with that movie, commenting on his own career and where he was at and trying to explore his feeling through this medium. And so, because of that I became inspired by him; I read his biography and kinda of obsessed by him. But there are only a couple of references to him in the songs and in no way is 'It's All True' a concept album. It is just that, specifically for me, it's really handy to have something or someone to focus on when I am thinking of new ideas... and he was the one.
After your experience with 'Begone Dull Care', how has your focus changed?
J - Well, we've evolved in the way that, when we started off, we had no sense of doing things professionally. The pressure becomes more intense the more effort you make because in the beginning you're doing it for fun and then you're building something and also sustain something at a certain level. For me, making records has become more difficult and less fun in that sense and that is where I was at the the beginning of making the new record. By the end of it I was having more fun with it and not focussing on the concerns of my career, trying to get back to place where your making records for the right reasons.
The cover art work for 'It's All True'
So, you put more of yourselves into 'It's All True' then what you feel you did for the last one. Did this make the release of this record any different from the last?
J - I hate it, I hate releasing new music. With this last record, I felt 'Fuck, I have to release it'. Especially because the record before was really an arduous and difficult process because it was 'the 3rd record'.
Matt - And it was the first record where it was based on hype.
J - And is it was difficult to release the 2nd album and I was quite nervous about it. Especially because it was like a different line up as it was when Matt joined and that was difficult because I wasn't sure if he would be accepted or not.
What surprises did 'It's All True' present you?
J - It wasn't that challenging to make and it actually came together pretty quickly and I was really happy with it at the end of it.
Which song out of your repertoire do you get most pleasure from playing live?
J - 'Play Time' i like a lot and I am really happy with it. It is a song that I started a long time ago and the chords i've been playing for years.
M - It's always hard because you don't know as they evolve over time and sometimes they come off as well as they have before.
J - Over the years we've come to understand how crowds work and we can work them better. We've become a much more successful live band than from when we started. When we started we didn't know what we were doing or what the crowd wanted. You know what, I don't really remember us going to see live music, DJs yes, but i never really went to see many live bands when I was a kid
M - and in the early recordings it wasn't thought that 'these are going to be toured live' it was just recordings for the sake of being recordings.
J - I thought we could get away with it but, no. So when we started playing live it was because we had too.
M - Not because we didn't want to but we were basically told that we had to go on the road and the thought of taking songs, some of which have 400 tracks on tour, made the thought of how to orchestrate it a tough one, Now, when we do music, we can think of that before we do it.
J - After a decade of playing live you learn what it is that people want out of you.
'It's All True' is available on Domino Records
Interviewed and Written by Ben Taylor