We recently spoke with Saskatoon five-piece, Slow Down Molasses, to discuss the development of their sound, artists they’re currently listening to, and which artists stood out to them the most at CMJ! You can find our interview with the band below!
Also be sure to check out the photos our photographer, Gina Garcia, took during their set at Livestream Public in Brooklyn at the end of CMJ weekend here!
You classify your sound as shoegazey dream pop, which aren’t common genre classifications in our book. Where did the term ‘shoegazey’ come from and how did you develop your sound? Was it something that came naturally?
Ha! Sometimes I forget that I/we tend to live in a bit of a bubble, with all of us listening to fairly similar music. The term shoegaze was initially coined by the U.K. music press as a derogatory way to reference bands like Slowdive, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, and other similar band that played loud, effects-laden, guitar music that tended to rely pretty heavily on guitar effects pedals, so the joke was that the musicians spent the entire set staring at their shoes as they turned on and off all their pedals. Since then it’s been embraced as a (positive) term to describe that scene. When I was getting really interested and excited about music as a teenager, a few of the key bands I got excited about were part of that scene or heavily influenced by it, Canadian bands like SIANspheric and Eric’s Trip, whom I loved, would talk about the bands they like and a lot of it could fit within that shoegaze or dream pop world. I discovered a lot of great music via those two bands. With Slow Down Molasses, I initially started the band as more of acoustic based thing. At the time I was wanting to write songs that I could easily sing and play by myself, eventually, my natural tendencies to also want to add layer after layer of hazy, delay-pedal driven guitar lines crept into the sound. Burnt Black Cars is the first album that we really just played what came naturally, which meant that everything tended to start with big hazy, feedback filled guitar lines. Then we’d slowly tone it down to make sure their was still an actual song hiding in the feedback.
Since CMJ is filled with tons of incredible acts, were you excited to catch any artists in particular? Did you stumble across any new artists that you are now a fan of?
Yeah, obviously CMJ is worth playing in it’s own right, but it’s a lot of effort and money to get into the U.S. to play shows. The cost and stress of getting a VISA is absurd, so I think if there wasn’t secondary reasons, like seeing bands we love, it would be hard to put in the work to make it happen. For me, getting to see Mercury Rev was a huge highlight. I’ve loved that band for years and it’s been nearly a decade since I last saw them play live. They were absolutely fantastic, as expected. It amazing how vital that band still seems, especially as a live band. One band that was a great surprise find for me was Ezra Furman. He opened the Mercury Rev show, but I only caught the last few songs, so I ended up going and see a full set the next day and it was fantastic. Really great songs and some bizarre/entertaining stage banter. A few of us also caught Protomartyr, who were really great to see. I’m somewhat confounded by their songs, but I keep going back and listening to them over and over again, so I think that’s a good sign.
FREEwilliamsburg called Slow Down Molasses one of their 15 bands to watch at CMJ, which is incredible! What are some under-the-radar artists you are currently listening to that you would include on your own ‘artist to watch’ list?
The defining characteristic of everyone in this band is that we are huge music fans, so this is always my favorite question to answer. Saskatoon has a really fantastic music scene that, in my opinion, rivals nearly any scene anywhere. There are some really great guitar-based bands ranging from Spiritualized-esque drone-folk from Dumb Angel, to instrumental doom-metal from Shooting Guns, post-punk weirdos Susan, and amazing murder-balled folk song from Ryan Boldt (of the Deep Dark Woods). I listen to each of those bands as much as I listen to any other bands. If you are at all into the music we make, I am certain you will dig their stuff. It’s as good as anything happening anywhere right now.
For non-local stuff, I’ve been really loving the Buzz Records scene out of Toronto. We just played with Dilly Dally, who are wonderful and seem to be getting a ton of much deserved hype. HSY also just passed through Saskatoon and they are fantastic. It seems like everything that label is putting out is wonderful. Definitely worth checking out.
Something we’ve noticed is that you truly use social media to your benefit by using it as a way to not only interact with fans, but to share things that are of importance to you from women empowerment to politics and everything in between. This is almost uncommon to see from artists nowadays because they’re always afraid of saying the wrong thing, but your band uses it as a platform to bring awareness to these issues. Why do you think it is so important for artists to use social media in this way versus refraining from speaking about these issues?
Thank you for this. For a while it seemed like all I was posting was stuff about our band and I felt that that was so very boring and cynically self-involved. If you knew us as people, you’d know that we all are quite passionate people, both about the music we love, but also the communities we come from and about the issues we see around us. Because of this, I’ve always battled a little with whether to post strong opinions via the band’s social media channels. It can be polarizing, but this last while I’ve noticed that I get excited when I see artists that I admire speaking about something that is real, whether it be raving about a record they like, or taking a stand and publicly commenting on an issue. I think that is really important. Social media is amazing because it does allow for more dialogue about what’s going on around us. There is lots of wonderful stuff that is happening these days, but equally there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed and inevitably we all talk about those issues in our day to day lives, so it makes sense to talk about them on the bands social media channels. I still err a bit on the side of caution and post about stuff that I am certain that myself and others in the band can and will comfortably defend, but I’ve been really happy seeing the reaction to some of our non-music posts. I really do think that more artists should be talking about issues that they care about. There is a lot we as a society can do better.
What can fans expect next from Slow Down Molasses? Maybe a new music video or tour?
Since we’ve been back from CMJ, we’ve dived head first into writing our new album. This summer and fall has been a really productive time for me writing and everyone in the band seems to be excited about the new songs, so we’re really excited to take some time to work on the songs and get back into the studio. We started recording a few songs in August and we hope to be back in the studio before the end of the year. We took four years between Walk Into The Sea and Burnt Black Cars, and I really don’t want to wait that long before releasing new music again, so don’t be surprised to see some new music from us in 2016.