With a compelling sound and a keen sense for style, Montreal’s indie electronic trio Young Galaxy is a must-hear! Their newest album, Shapeshifting, is ethereal and engaging. The band’s vocalist and keyboardist, Catherine McCandless, talked to us about fashion in relation to music. Check out the Q and A below, and their video for “We Have Everything.”
Can you give us a brief history of Young Galaxy’s birth and life up until now?
Young Galaxy started as a solo bedroom project for Stephen Ramsay [vocals, guitar] in Vancouver in the late ’90s. It evolved over time to a point where I joined him on his first demo singing back ups. We moved to Montreal and it was here that the band really begun. We have been deep in the Montreal music scene, drawing our band members, temporary and permanent, from the Montreal community. It is definitely the home base of YG.
Your sound has clear influences like Annie Lennox, Kate Bush, and New Order. Do you have fashion influences? Are you ever moved by style when creating music?
I draw a lot of inspiration from rock and pop music fashion for sure. Stylistically, music has always been the site of fashion trendsetters, not followers—or at least should be. When I make music, there’s no question I really want to embody it. I want to look like I feel when I sing.
All the artists you mentioned—as well as artists like Patti Smith, Björk and Grace Jones—they all appeared as fearless, powerful, unpredictable female figures who weren’t afraid of experimentation with style. They broke down archetypes and challenged the status quo. I admire that. Some men, especially David Bowie, were really good at this too.
The reality is, fashion helps interpret the fantasy inherent in music, helps nudge you into a place of suspended disbelief, so it all feels like a surreal, waking dream. So few people get to attempt that kind of expressiveness in their daily lives. I think it’s a very empowering feeling—bold fashion statements can elicit such strong reactions—doing it in the context of music and performance makes me feel all the more confident making those bold statements.
I love that you took it upon yourselves to reach out to a producer you admired for this album—Dan Lissvik, producer of Fever Ray. Tell us how it was to work with him, especially with almost all of your communication being over Skype.
It was fantastic. Dan is a lovely guy and a soulful individual. We stalked him on Myspace for a while. We realized that every call we made from Canada to Sweden would be extremely expensive, and it looked like we’d have to be in touch a lot—so the Skype alternative was proposed. We sent pictures, jammed over Skype and worked out the sounds and moods of all of Shapeshifting‘s songs with the him as ‘the voice in our computer.’
Aside from Young Galaxy, what is your favorite galaxy in the universe?
The Galaxy chocolate bar!