Interviews – An interview with Cameron Carr of Trying
Upon the release of Trying‘s brilliant sophomore album, This is Not A Disco, Janglepophub are absolutely delighted to be granted an audience with their frontman, Cameron Carr (see above).
We chat about everything from violin based beginnings, the beauty of digital and physical formats, a difference nuance to emotional darkness, ABBA Influences and his feeling about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Tell us about the journey of Trying as band up until this sophomore album?
Trying evolved out of a previous violin, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar trio under a different name.
It started with me making demos in my bedroom, I’d wanted to create something that eschewed the usual two guitars, drums, and bass format and that’s definitely remained true as we’re fortunate to have Laura playing clarinet and glockenspiel and are proponents of guitar pedal fiddling and bringing in outside sounds.
We became friends mostly through seeing each other at shows repeatedly, which seemed a good indicator that we’d get along musically.
It was an interesting choice to release this sophomore album in three parts (two previous EP’s and then the actual album). What was the reason for this?
After regrouping from the last album, we started organizing and thinking through all the song ideas and demos I had.
Soon we’d sorted things into three groups: hopeful things, darker things, and a sort of confrontation of the two. We didn’t want to rush out a new album but didn’t want to sit idly either.
Separating them gave us a starting point where we could focus on only a handful of songs at a time that held similar purposes and themes. That made it easy to release things regularly which is really fun—it’s great to be able to share what you’re working on. It almost felt like we were in a conversation with our musical community about the album we were working on as we went.
Is this age of the ADHD digital single, is there still a need for the album as a format? If so what does it add in today’s streaming age?
I love albums and feel they’re an especially powerful way to link together songs with intentional purpose and meaning.
Streaming, and more importantly digital in general (cannot stress enough how great Bandcamp is), allows us to do so many things that weren’t previously possible for new, unknown, and experimental acts.
Demos, live sets, experimental spin-offs. I don’t think the changes in how we listen to music have erased the significance an album can have but they’ve made it possible to appreciate music presented in so many other contexts, like regularly sharing new music with fans via singles or smaller releases or even changing and updating music across time.
Is there still a need for the physical format?
Of course. So many people still take such joy in physical formats. Physical offers so much potential for really embracing music in a close listening (and often, but not necessarily, more hi-fi) environment.
Three of us are vinyl collectors and I think we really appreciate having the whole package, the larger, printed artwork, lyrics sheets, booklets, posters.
It’s really another creative aspect as much as it is a technical one.
What is the song writing and recording process of Trying?
Typically, I come to the band with a demo. Often it’s somewhat filled out with most everything but drums but sometimes it’s just a voice and guitar.
From there the band helps to push where it can go, what needs to be emphasized more and what actually works when played together. It sort of goes from a limitless process of layering recordings in my room, to a limited process of what the four of us can play together at once, and then stretches the limits again as we turn that into a recording where we can layer and mutate the sounds again.
I do all the recording in my home then mix and master it myself as well, seeking input from the rest of the band throughout, of course.
There seems to an underlying theme of emotional darkness and the support / experiences that get you through it? Is the theme anecdotal in any way?
On ‘This Is Not a Disco’ I was trying not to get caught up in just the emotional darkness but think about how our moods and mental state affect others.
That’s what really got me thinking about how trying to support someone can bring about our own dark feelings or how we sometimes find that supporting and maintaining emotional calm for someone else can be very difficult. It definitely comes from a lot of personal experiences.
I often write from my own experiences or the experiences of those around me but try to let it be a little more open-ended and expressive so someone else might interpret it differently and the people I might originally be thinking about don’t just become a character for my own use.
A favourite blog I follow perfectly touches upon the brilliance of the ‘emotionally transparecy’ in your lyrics. Do you deliberately try to ‘lighten the mood’ with the danceable indie-pop such lyrics are couched in, or is there another reason for assuming such a method of delivery.
It’s partially that that’s the music we like, I’m sure, but I also think if it all was slow and melancholy it might not represent what we’re talking about.
Life rushes at us so much more and the feeling of losing stability in that, or just being pummeled by it, is something I think many people experience. I like to have a bit of that chaos and uncertainty, where something seemingly good isn’t always quite that or might not stay that way.
What are your two favourite tracks on the album, what are they about and what makes them your favourites?
Oh, this is no fair. But, if I’m forced to decide: “This Is Not a Disco” (Pt. 1 & 2 are linked in my mind) and “I Won’t Let You Lose the Rhythm.”
Those I think are the most important things I say on the album. “This Is Not a Disco” just really captured all that I wanted to say, the inability to find the right words but the sense of trying anyway. “I Won’t Let You Lose the Rhythm” is perhaps the great hope of the album, to be able to be there for someone through anything.
It’s also one of the most expressionist bits on there where the noise turns to something shimmering and birds wait in the background.
Who would you consider your primary influences? Would you state they are intentionally fused in your aesthetic or is involuntary?
Another supremely difficult question! We’re not a band where we all have the same favorite artists but ABBA was one that came up a lot when thinking disco (and as I tried to convince everyone that “Voulez Vous” is their most underrated song).
Think we all would have been listening to the most recent albums by Mitski, Saintseneca, and Jay Som while working on ‘This Is Not a Disco.’ Yo La Tengo is one I reference a lot to the band for their ability to be noisy and gentle side by side.
I also recall playing Lucinda Williams’ ‘Car Wheels On a Gravel Road’ repeatedly on at least one tour. The Smiths and The Cure are two sort of ‘classic’ artists whose music we like and I think is evidenced in our sound to some extent.
What were the last three releases you purchased (free downloads count)
Mase Brazelle, who was a personality for our local independent radio station CD 102.5, recently passed away and left an extensive record collection behind.
It’s currently at one of our local record shops, Spoonful Records, and I snagged The Pastels ‘Slow Summits,’ which I’d long been looking for, as well as The Antlers ‘Hospice.’ Think the last one before that was Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s new album ‘Temple.’
You deferred any promotion on the ‘Paint The Yellow Walls’ single from this album as it coincided with the Black Live Matters musical protest. How important was it for you to show solidarity with this cause? Do you think music made a difference?
We felt that very important conversations were happening not only on the national or global level but also among local communities and individuals.
Trying to push attention toward our music would have been an unnecessary distraction. I think music and culture can be very important in moments like these and it’s great to see artistic communities rallying to raise funds and uplift POC voices.
As a blog that features the ‘predominantly white’ jangle pop genre we were subject to claims certain of racism for not supporting ‘black acts’. As an all white act, playing a genre (indie-pop) that is also ‘predominantly white’ how would you suggest that ‘indie-pop’ could defend itself?
That’s a valid criticism of the indie rock and indie pop worlds past and present.
I think energy is best spent not on any defending but instead on supporting more diverse and inclusive participation—musicians, artists, promoters, writers, audio engineers. It’s something I think many of us can do better at and should be actively working towards on a regular basis.
Cameron, thanks so much for sparing us your time !!!
This Is Not A Disco is out now here on cassette and digital…grab it, it’s all sorts of wonderful !