Music Q&A:

The singer-songwriter, a former member of Montreal band The Dears, is heading to the Factory in Manchester on 25 Nov. New single Ordinary Lies is out now, ahead of album Automanic Red + Blue

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Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences?
I’d say my sound is a sort of synth-infused 1960s/1970s pop music. I like dense arrangements, and trying to make it all fit into two speakers somehow. Ever since hearing Strawberry Fields Forever, I’ve been obsessed with implementing orchestral elements to my music and having arrangements that feel cinematic. Being a guitarist I always try to be creative about the use of the instrument, too. At the end of day it sounds like rock but in my mind it’s much more complicated, ha ha. I grew up on The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Ray Charles, Diana Ross and a bunch of random French music my parents listened to around the house (Aznavour, Gainsbourg, to name a couple).

How have you evolved as a band over the years?
Bands with heavy road experience tend to become very efficient in their performances. Less senseless banter, less awkward tuning your guitar, less dead air, less room-silencing jokes. After over 1,000 shows, I’m still waiting for all those great things to happen☺

Were there any alternative band names before you arrived at this one?
It started as Krief (which is my last name) then for a brief moment we used the name Black Diamond Bay, which was a bit of a concept album for Krief. But really, I’m terrible with band names, and I’ve always felt that artists going by their own name are more easily forgiven for taking 180 degree turns. For instance, when Gainsbourg put out a reggae record, it was kinda like “oh, he’s doing that now”, whereas if Led Zeppelin did that it might be more of a “what the hell are they doing?” I like the freedom, and it’s a name I can defend, because it was given to me at birth.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
I’m actually in the middle of recording a new record. I’ve tracked 19 songs, and hope to have it mixed early 2018.

How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?
Being prolific and unrelenting has made me stand out I suppose. I’ve always made it a point to avoid following musical trends (who could keep up anyway?). I continually challenge myself as an artist and being true to myself is a must. If I don’t believe in it, it simply won’t ever be put out. The level of quality control is driven by levels of neurosis that rival Larry David. I also like to surround myself with outstanding musicians. The more I go out and see shows, the less I see people really playing the fuck out of their instruments. It’s almost as though it’s uncool in some scenes. I guess I’m old school though, because I like having my face melted by a band of ridiculously talented players, like Patrick Watson or Radiohead. As things change, I do believe being of that school is a standout trait, even if it’s fizzling away.

What’s on your rider?
Guinness, vodka and, for the next day, Gatorade. We actually have a note to NOT have any crisps or chocolate on there, cause we WILL eat it and we’re trying really hard to keep up with all the skinny cool kids.

Tell us about your worst live show.
I don’t really feel like we’ve had any really bad experiences. I mean there have been some crappy shows, or brawls in the crowd. We’ve even had people throw pints at us in Australia. But when you think about what’s happening in the world these days (at concerts) we’ve been quite fortunate, and it feels almost criminal to bitch about anything. That said, if I had to name one pretty unpleasant event, it would be a gig in Edinburg where I had pretty severe food poisoning, and had to throw up behind the bass rig between songs. But looking back, it’s a great story to tell! And I have often dialled that memory in to remind myself I can get through worse than whatever it is I’m dealing with.

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