• Q&A
  • 1 comment

Q&A: Young Empires

written by: on January 30, 2013

The Toronto-based men of Young Empires are the standard bearers of their own genre – haute rock.

“I regard it as an homage to the ethos of the haute couture movement,” singer Matthew Vlahovich said. “The great garment designers of that period made their clients feel luxurious. So, in some way, maybe we are trying to design the sound of a cosmopolitan experience.”

The band writes indie dance-infused pop music with flourishes of African and Latin American percussion evident with the single, “White Doves.” The band also released the first Facebook integrated video for the song and scored a nomination for video of the year at the SiriusXM 13th Annual Independent Music Awards.

Vlahovich answered questions on the video and the band’s debut EP, “Wake All My Youth” via email before starting a seven-date U.S. tour, which includes a February 5 stop in Chicago at Schubas Tavern. Click here for the chance to win a pair of free tickets or an exclusive vinyl record form the band.

Pop’ stache: The band met through a Craig’s List ad. What did the post say?

Matthew Vlahovich: I cannot remember exactly what the ad said, but I imagine it was something like this: “Are you miserable in your 9-to-5 corporate job?  Do you want to travel the globe for the next decade? Interested candidates must be able to sing and play synthesizers.” Ha.

P’s: After jamming for about a month and with a few songs in place, you lined up a show. From what I understand you had about two-weeks to write enough songs to fill a 30-minute set. What was the writing process like? Which songs appeared on the EP?

MV: The real story is that we locked ourselves in this filthy roadside motel with a few bottles of whiskey and a small mobile recording setup on a rainy weekend. By the end of it we had a set and a track called “Glory of the Night,” which came out a few years ago on Parisian fashion label, Kitsune. The rest of the songs have been long forgotten.

P’s: You all wrote, recorded and mixed “Wake All My Youth” without a background in engineering or producing. How did that affect the recording? Was it liberating? 

MV: Self-producing our own EP gave us the opportunity to record parts in different locations. We tracked a gang vocal take in the shower of our rehearsal space and the lead vocals for “Rain of Gold” at my fiancée’s cottage in rural Ontario.

The proliferation of inexpensive recording software is changing the game for indie artists. You don’t have to break the bank anymore to record in a commercial studio.

P’s: Why release a new version of the EP? 

MV: I see it more as a modification of the Canadian release. It reminds me of the ’90s when you would buy the ‘import’ version of your favourite Radiohead album and find B-sides and different mixes. For the US release, we had two of our friends, Al-P and Burke Reid, help us mix “White Doves” and “We Don’t Sleep Tonight.”

P’s: What lessons will take when you record your first album?

MV: While you can do most of the work yourself, sometimes external third parties can help realize the full potential of a song by tweaking the arrangement and vibe. It’s really important to be open to the ideas and suggestions of others while maintaining a clear sense of direction for the album as whole.

P’s: Are those lessons carrying over to the songwriting for the new album?

MV: Absolutely. Collaboration and idea exchanges are crucial components of making a great record.

P’s: Speaking of which, you’ve collaborated with Handsome clothing on some custom t-shirts and sweatshirts. Do you see fashion going in hand with your music?

MV: Do you want your fans wearing oversized Hanes t-shirts or fitted, uniquely designed garments? It’s about giving your fans something different than the status quo.

P’s: I find the band markets itself in some interesting ways. You placed “Rain of Gold” with the EA Sports game, “FIFA ‘13.” So, tell me about your interactive video, “White Doves” on Facebook. How did that project come about? Any ideas for future interactive projects?

MV: We were really fortunate to be one of the first bands to ever release an interactive video using Facebook Connect technology, which embeds photos from your Facebook profile into the music video for a unique personalized video experience.  The idea was the brainchild of director Mile Jay, creative visionary Derek Blais, and our bass player Jake Palahnuk. We’d love to do more of these but the cost is prohibitively expensive.

View the video at http://whitedoves.me.