Photo Credit: Callie Lugosi
Last month Yes We Mystic dropped a new album and come next week they’ll be on tour in support of Ten Seated Figures over in the UK. So we were lucky enough to catch them before they headed out to talk about the movement of their sound, exploration on the road, and where their current album lands in terms of where they’d like to sonically head.
Kendra: Coming up in the Canadian music scene, how would you best describe your more localized scene?
Yes We Mystic: The Winnipeg music scene is really cool right now. All the bands doing well sound nothing like one another at all. There’s a really wide variety of things being done well here, but most of them feel insular to one another. I don’t think anyone’s worried about anyone else ripping them off because the creative directions are so strong and unique.
Kendra: When it comes to your latest album, Ten Seated Figures, how do you think it compares to where you’ve been and where you’re going in terms of style and execution?
Yes We Mystic: We thought very hard about where we wanted things to go on this new record. Of course, we didn’t want to make the same record again – we wanted to find a fresh face for the old bones. On our debut LP, Forgiver, we tried to fit synths and drum machines in a very unobtrusive and organic way amongst the instruments we’d started out with – guitars, strings, a mandolin, and so on. We were trying to attain a unique vibe stylistically by triangulating all these different genres and ideas so that it didn’t sound too much like anything else.
This record we tried to flip that on its head. We scrapped the drum machines, brought the synths forward, and tried to repurpose those original instruments so that they sound alien and unfamiliar. Lots of pitch shifting, sampling, distorting of acoustic guitars, our vocals, the mandolin. The songwriting is coming from a very similar place, but we tried to push ourselves with how the songs were built up, going to wild places sonically. Lots of late nights amongst a pile of things plugged into each other, it felt like a science lab.
Kendra: I loved “Young Evil,” even more so after watching the video. Then I checked out the one that came right before, “Felsenmeer.” Both have a lot of movement involved. Were any of you dancers before stepping into music?
Yes We Mystic: Not really. Keegan’s family owns a dance studio, so that’s always been a part of his life. But none of us are dancers. The Jonah Haber/ Niamh Wilson videos (working for the future in the interlake/Felsenmeer) are really beautiful and delicate and executed by people who really know what they are doing. For our third dance video, “Young Evil,” we put me in the spotlight for something much more uncomfortable, a little bit gross. It was about exploring something very very different with dance than what we had done before.
I’ll say this; dancing is very hard. I did three months of rehearsals for that video, with Ella Steele, the video’s choreographer, and Keegan’s sister. We did 26 takes of the dance to get all the right angles and the dynamic camera work. I couldn’t move the next day.
Kendra: Speaking of movement, you’ll be moving around the UK throughout May. It’s surely about getting the job done when you’re on tour but are you going to take even just a little time to play tourist?
Yes We Mystic: Every once and a while we’ll get a day or two off! Most places we don’t have too much time to explore. I think this time we’ll have a bit of time in Manchester and Cardiff, though.
Kendra: With that, do your friends and family expect trinkets from your travels when you head out on tour?
Yes We Mystic: Not really! I have one friend that asked me to steal a spoon from a restaurant in every city we visited. I told her I forgot.
Kendra: You’ve mentioned how you pull from everywhere, and that includes Katy Perry. Are we talking debut album? Because that remains a gem to me.
Yes We Mystic: It was actually Prism era Katy Perry we were thinking about. We’re enamoured with the chorus of “Roar” and the bass synth in the verses. Which inspired the song “The Contest of Strength.” We’ve found that it’s a good practice to get inspired by dissimilar things to your own art. It’s a great way to get inspired and push yourself.
Kendra: After you wrap your upcoming tour up at the start of June, what’s next on the agenda?
Yes We Mystic: We’ll keep touring until the end of July, and then the next crop of songs will begin to take over my life. It’s begun already actually.