INTERVIEW: SHY KIDS - GET 'IN THE PUDDIN' OF A GREAT BAND
‘…it's more the attitude of that kid in the back of class and you didn't know what was going on in his head. We're like, what's scribbled in his sketchbook.’ Speaking of books, don’t think I didn’t encourage these longer responses. I’m guilty. Selfish really. I mean, these kids not only crank out some awesome tunes, but they’re damn well entertaining to listen to even without their music.
The Peel: Let’s start with introductions. Is there the rock star/diva/troublemaker? Does the name ring true?
Matt: I’m playing guitar on these three tracks, but we’re pretty all over the place in terms of what we each contribute when the songs are coming together. One of us might whip up some sample-based thing on the computer and bring it to the band. Walter might hum a melody to us…he’s also gives good explanations...
Walter: We are a three-headed monster. We live with each other. And only really hang out with each other. Matt’s kind of the romantic: lost in between a philosophy book and robot. Patrick reminds me of Nikola Tesla. I'll let the other two describe me. But shy kids is bit of a misinforming name. It's like you get up and perform in front of people, how shy can you be? Well I think it's more the attitude of that kid in the back of class and you didn't know what was going on in his head. We're like, what's scribbled in his sketchbook.
Patrick: I play the piano/sing live, and assemble a lot of the instrumentation and percussion with input from everyone in the writing process. At least on these three tracks. It's a little bit all over the place with the stuff we're working on now.
The Peel: Do you guys have any video? We'd love to give the people a nice 'introduction' to shy kids.
Patrick: Here, we just finished and uploaded this and haven't told anyone about it yet, so you get first look-see. It's a performance of 'In the Puddin' our buddies shot in our apartment - with a little colorful twist. You guys can do with it what you will [laugh]. Hopefully that serves as an adequate introduction.
The Peel: Lyrically, you guys cover some refreshing content. Some of the lines are brilliant (i.e.. the bit about Cobain, and "fail and become teachers"). There seems to be a sense of frustration or rebellion in the songs, and though it sounds optimistic, there's a hint of skepticism. I take it you guys are, or were, writing directly from a point you're at in your lives?
Matt: I think where you are in your life will inevitably influence what you create, for sure. On top of our immediate thoughts and feelings that change all the time though, I think we’re definitely trying to deal with the trajectory of things outside of ourselves that happen around us. We definitely live in an interesting time. Everything is changing. The Internet’s impact is ridiculous. We get these little snippets of information that come from all over the place with different sources and different biases and it’s on us to piece them together in a sensible way with brains that might not yet be adequately equipped to do so – but everyone, nonetheless, puts together and makes intelligible all this information differently. We’re together in that we can all potentially access and learn the same things but separated by the fact we can choose what we pay attention to. The newspaper and cable never allowed for that. The new ‘personalized’ Internet pushes those ideas further. Maybe the Cobain bit is kind of a meditation on those sorts of ideas.
[‘Where’s our Kurt Cobain? Who do we pray to?’]
Walter: I think I'm a bit of a rabble-rouser myself. Its like if all our parents are really hard working people doing these jobs that you can actually quantify at the end of the day. So if we're going to be ‘artists,’ I think we should be doing something worth while. At least be trying to say something that matters. While writing these songs, those were the things that were on our minds. We yell at each other a lot about politics and I think that the lyrics are trying to synthesize those debates and conversations into snack-size bits.
The Peel: ‘In The Pudding’ is a bit more distilled and beautiful in its simplicity. Getting caught up in those sweet, unplanned moments with someone. Care to elaborate on this track?
Matt: Walter and I talked at length about the ideas behind some of those lyrics. The conversation was about exactly that - what those sweet, unplanned moments really signify, and where they really emerge from.
Walter: ‘In The Puddin’ is something my grandma said once. It's kind of cheap for us to tell you exactly what the songs means, or give the exact inspirations. I think that different people can take different things from it. I hate when bands say that. But there is this site, songmeanings.net. And there’s always these super whacked out explanations, which I’ve always loved. Than there is always some guy who quotes an interview where the band says exactly what the songs about. Fuck those explanation-guys and fuck those explanations. The songs about being in pudding. Take from that what you will.
The Peel: Well as much as I regret that question, I dig that answer. OK, where is the sample from at the end of the song?
Walter: We'll never tell you! There is a bunch of samples in the album. And we can't tell you. We'll get sued. (Cause everyone listens and cares about us…) We can tell you some people we like. Queen, The Beatles, Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, Animal Collective, Neutral Milk Hotel, Alan Lomax, Lappalux, The Clash, Bon Iver, J Dilla, MF DOOM, Bowie. Just listen to them a bunch. You might figure it out. We just worked on something today that took an ABBA sample but I hear they are hiding out in Sweden and the swedes have a liberal attitude to pirating so we can tell you that one.
The Peel: Secrets! Well with all these influences, it explains how the songs take on a large/open sound. Crack In The Road called it "organized chaos" which I think is pretty fitting. There's some intricate percussion and heavy layering going on that really shows off your chemistry. Is there a 'typical" writing process for you guys?
Patrick: I think we're still trying to figure out the best process. Each of these three songs came together in different ways.
Walter: Yeah that’s up in the air. ‘Teachers’ started as me scatting on garage band. Raise em' Right’ was a sample of one of Matt’s songs and me and Pat pajamming out. In the Puddin' I really wish people could hear the original of that. It was so different but yeah.
Matt: Often we spend more time arguing about how to write a song together than actually working on writing a song together. I'm really into the texture of the sounds though. I think the combination of different textures might have the same emotive potential as moving between the right notes on a scale. I want to be able to think in texture-chords. I think that because so many more people listen to music on headphones now, textures are more noticeable and can be utilized more by artists. There was this musique concrete enthusiast named Luigi Russolo who wrote in the 50s on how the sounds of the 'new industrial landscape' were giving humans a greater capacity to appreciate complex sounds. Maybe something of a similar order is happening now because we listen differently.
The Peel: Well, the end result is great. Do you work with any outside producers, or is all the recording handle by yourselves?
Patrick: We do all our own recording. Two of us have been making music on our own for a while, so we feel we've got good experience with getting a solid sound from a low-budget setup. I wouldn't even know where to look for an outside producer.
Walter: I'd like to work with Dr. Dre or Dangermouse or Jon Brion. But we have Pat and Matt, whom are just as good.
Matt: It would be different working with an outside producer, since lots of the ‘writing’ happens as we’re producing it. I’d probably choose Pat as a producer anyway.
The Peel: Alright, speaking of other producers/artists, open your iPods, Phones and/or musical boxes. What’s spinning?
Matt: This dude Evenings, Fiona Apple, Four Tet, Dorine Muraille, Olafur Arnalds, Gold Panda. Not too much else.
Patrick: The new Animal Collective album and the new Antlers four-track. Also, Son Lux - his stuff is dope.
Walter: I didn't like the new Animal Collective that much so I've been going all over trying to find something I want to listen to. Lots of Queen. I listened to the MAMASAYMAMASA MAMA COO SA part of ‘Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' on like repeat one day (You tube link). A lot of Alan Lomax, folk recordings. The Olivia Tremor Control. I like this one Of Montreal song that says "Soul Power". All those song titles are super long though.
The Peel: How about any new bands that stand out in the scene that you feel deserve a bit more attention?
Walter: I honestly always find out about bands way after everyone has already hyped them and then called them sellouts. I kind of prefer it. It's like I got into breaking bad after season 4 was done and it was rad cause I got to watch the whole thing in one swoop. I like doing that with bands like downloading discography and than just burning through them. You get to hear their progression in, like a weekend which is always more enjoyable for me.
Patrick: We haven't really found ourselves in a scene yet, so I'm not sure I could even name a local band I'm really into - but there's a group out of Philadelphia called Tutlie that are just starting the climb, and I'm stoked on what they've got going on the YouTubes. Gorgeous stuff.
The Peel: Any bands that you're dying to tour/play with?
Walter: I wouldn't mind opening for Arcade Fire, just to meet Win Butler. Same with the Tupac hologram.
The Peel: Outside of creating epic, earth-shattering tunes, do you guys have any other hidden talents or passions?
Walter: I'm getting better at cooking. Pat and I are trying to make this movie…that’s always the worst thing a musician can say. Also its experimental, so, *gag*.
Patrick: Two of us run a small animation company. We do work for small businesses and startups around Toronto. Helps pay the bills and pay for school.
Matt: Motion graphics and animation stuff with Pat. Obsessive about pop-sci books on neuroscience.
The Peel: Speaking of cooking and food, does Toronto have anything that beats out Quebec's poutine?
Walter: I love eating. I hate poutine. Matt and Pat like poutine, but I think it's kind of gross. Toronto doesn't really have a city dish. There is this place called "Come and Get It" and it makes these short rib poutines. But it also makes it into a sandwich that I prefer. I don’t know, I like Pho Hung a lot.
The Peel: Before we part, what are your next moves?
Patrick: We've got a few shows lined up around Toronto over the next while, and we'd like to get something going for the winter break as well. I actually just finished moving in with these guys, so jamming has slowed down, but we're still showing each other ideas and stuff we're working on. Once we polish up some more material, we'll likely put it out and then take it live.
Walter: We're going to work on recording soon. I keep talking to Matt and Pat about only recording at night. There being these really dark themes. Like dead mice and little kids dancing at a party for the apocalypse. We'll see, maybe we'll hate each other in a month.
We sure as hell hope not. In fact, we're hoping for a tour, some more tunes and perhaps a video out of these guys. We'll keep you posted, but in the mean time, check this out: