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Mad Max, Expensive Men`s Wear and Secret Acronyms with Gold & Youth

Gold & Youth

They Make Music to Float Away With While You Soak in the Tub

By Scott Wood

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Gold & Youth are steadily gaining momentum over 2013. They are signed to legendary Canadian indie label Arts & Crafts (home of Broken Social Scene and Feist to name two.) and they have gotten noticed by well renowned UK music magazine NME.

The band started from the ashes of Victoria band Racoons when group founders Matthew Lyall, Murray Mckenzie and Jeff Mitchelmore decided to try something new. While making Y&G’s debut Beyond Wilderness, the guys decided to add established pop singer-songwriter Louise Burns to the mix to create a slick hazy sound that could be called the west coast’s answer to the UK’s XX. But they would rather say that their music “evokes memories of neo-noir Los Angeles, cinematic haze and midnight solitudes.”

Here’s my email conversation with the band.

Scott Wood: I've read that the name Gold & Youth came from Canadian rapper and CBC Radio host Buck 65. True? Why a Mad Max character?

Murray Mckenzie: There’s not much of a story there, really. We were stuck for a name, and we really needed one as soon as possible, because we had already signed with A&C and they wanted to start talking about us. We couldn’t come up with any ideas that everyone liked, and Buck was kind enough to send a list of ideas. For some reason, they were all Mad Max characters. I guess that’s just how he rolls.

Hello folks, Scott Wood here! I'm the host of the interview show, which is a syndicated radio program you can find on several campus community radio stations across Canada. Each month, I profile one of the “hidden talents” in my local Vancouver scene. Basically, I am going to give the campus community radio readers the chance to get to know some of Vancouver's most interesting, up-and-coming bands.

Scott Wood: I read an interview where Murray Mckenzie from G&Y mentioned that no one has noticed that the band's name spells the acronym G.A.Y. Secret subtext?

Murray Mckenzie: Ha, not intentional. But we liked it when we noticed it. Equality! 
Scott Wood: Gold & Youth share a manager with Buck 65. The Canadian music industry can be small sometimes. Can you share with me another unexpected connection to a different Canadian band/artist one might not expect?

Jeff Mitchelmore: Ted Gowans, who is a great friend of ours, played 2 shows with us while on break from his day job, playing guitar and keyboards with Tegan and Sara.
Scott Wood: Music scene veteran Louise Burns joined the group it looks like midway thru making your debut record Beyond Wilderness. Burns sings on four tracks. Guy/girl vocals can be really potent. How did you guys come together? Was there a matchmaker involved? Can I get a little he said, she said on how you hooked up?

Louise Burns: I'd known the guys for years and had played with Murray and Jeff in the past in bands, so we were musically connected for years, but it wasn't until they asked me to sing on a few songs that I became more involved in Gold & Youth. I was living in Toronto at the time when I did those vocals and shortly after they asked me to join as a full member. I wrote most of G&Y track “Jewel” while still living in Toronto, so it was sort of my first official involvement with the band. I like to think that the band Freur is our matchmaker, because “Doot Doot” is one of my favourite songs, and their new sound (post-Racoons) reminded me a lot of that, and Blade Runner, two of my favourite things. So I kinda fell in love with the music. Great music. Terrible people. (JUST KIDDING).

Scott Wood: The guys in the band used to be together in another band called the Raccoons. You threw everything from that band away (including many songs) to begin again. Why did the Raccoons have to die for Gold & Youth to get born?

Murray Mckenzie: I think we were all a bit limited by the associations people had with the name. We’d been the Racoons for a long time at that point. We’d seen members come and go, we’d seen the musical style shift considerably over about three or four years—every band the three of us had ever played in together was called the Racoons! The difference was that, this time, we were trying to do something that really represented who we were, and who we wanted to be in the future. We felt like we had finally arrived at something, and a new name was needed to represent it.

Tiempe Libre
Gold & Youth rise above (credit: Michelle Ford).

Scott Wood: Louise, you are an industry veteran—starting out in a pop rock band when you a teenager. You also just released a solo record The Midnight Mass this year—the same year you joined Gold & Youth. What keeps you with these guys and how do you juggle?

Louise Burns: Ah yes, the ol "industry veteran" label... Well, I really love playing music with them, and they are also my best friends, so all sentiment aside, it's just really fun. Between Gold & Youth, my solo stuff and mundane work life, I have had to embrace insomnia and a very tattered social life but hey, what the fuck else would I be doing? Haha!
Scott Wood: I saw you guys perform at a Harry Rosen store in downtown Vancouver. It's great to see an upscale men's clothing store support emerging artists and do a little cross promotion. What's a tip for performing in a space (and for an audience) that is not a club (a traditional music venue)? How do you win a crowd over?

Louise Burns: Don't over think it. A crowd's a crowd and they want to be entertained. Also, take an extended soundcheck...

Note: There were a few sound snafus during this particular show.
Scott Wood: You guys are signed to the Arts & Crafts label. Can you talk a bit about the impact of this label and its importance to Canadian music?

Murray Mckenzie: I think Arts & Crafts means a lot to any Canadian band. Broken Social Scene was a big part of my introduction to a lot of music—and surely a big part of other peoples’ introduction to Canada! And let’s not forget, they’ve also had the Constantines, who are the greatest underappreciated Canadian legends.
Scott Wood: G&Y band member Jeff Mitchelmore joked that the album makes for excellent “bath music.” When was the last time you needed a good soak?

Jeff Mitchelmore: Last weekend, Canada Day weekend, we played a great festival on Vancouver Island called, Tall Tree Music Festival in Port Renfrew. It's on top of Browns Mountain and overlooks the Juan de Fuca Straight. It makes for a gorgeous view, but gets pretty dark and muddy.
Scott Wood: You guys are a bi-coastal group, some in Vancouver, Louise I assume is in Toronto.  Can you talk about making that work?

Louise Burns: I live in Vancouver now. When I was in Toronto I'd just meet up with the guys wherever we'd be touring and write with them using the power of technology. Logic has made it really easy to collaborate when you don't live in the same city. We still work this way, despite living super close to each other.
Scott Wood: Thanks for answering these questions guys! Please pick your favorite Gold & Youth video for me and give it an intro.

Murray Mckenzie: This is “Jewel.” It’s our new song, and the first Louise has sung lead on. It’s based on an idea she had when she came into the band—really, we just had to finish the music and electronics, as she had the whole thing close to completion. But I think it represents where the band is headed, as her influence becomes a bigger part of our writing process. Anyway, it’s also got a terrific video from our friend Natalie Rae Robison.

Find more about Gold & Youth online.  

Listen to upcoming episodes of the interview show for an audio chat with Gold & Youth.

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