Majical Cloudz's Devon Walsh: I'm going for as little as possible

Categories: Interview
Majical_Cloudz.jpeg
Photo courtesy of the artist
Montreal has become a wellspring for innovative electro-talent. The fact that Majical Cloudz has just been signed to Matador Records adds to the proof of that. The project of Devon Walsh may have first materialized on public radar through the form of Grimes -- his dear friend, who hails from the same small music community -- collaborations, but now, gaining momentum through his recently released EP Turns Turns Turn, his churning, melodramatic reflections are forging their own path.

Gimme Noise talked with Walsh while he was visiting his father (who happens to be the actor who played Windom Earle on Twin Peaks) in Ontario, preceding his performance at the Triple Rock with Autre Ne Veut tonight.
Gimme Noise: You just got signed to Matador. Did you ever forsee this project being part of a major indie label?

Devon Walsh: No. I mean definitely not to begin with. But my goals will always adjust to the place that I'm in. When I started initially it was just to play shows and do something that was not what people were expecting from me. It worked out really well and then we finished this album and we wanted to find a way to get it out to the most people. Matador was interested and it was a really flattering opportunity. They are a really awesome label. It's also so cool to release music on a label that put out a lot of the albums that really impacted me in a big way when I was younger. I listen to Belle & Sebastian all the time and Cat Power and obviously Pavement and stuff like that, you know? So it's pretty cool that they're also going to release our album. It doesn't make sense that we'd be on the same label as those other people but I'll take it.

GN: Alright as a Pavement superfan I have to interject with a really hard question: Wowee Zowee or Crooked Rain?

DW: Oh man I don't know. They both offer totally different things. Crooked Rain is really great when you want the pop Pavement, really tight songs. And then Wowee Zowee is just this weird journey. If I was stoned I'd probably choose Wowee Zowee but otherwise probably Crooked Rain just because it's more cohesive. Wowwee Zowee has all those random songs that are so abrasive.

GN: And they're great! Anyway... Before you were saying that you were setting out to do something that people wouldn't expect of you. What do you think people DID expect of you? How do you think Turns Turns Turns challenges that?

DW: It's more the music scene in Montreal and what people are doing right now. There's so much experimentation going on with using computers and samplers to create music, this real deep focus on sound and the possibilities of taking pop music and making it more psychedelic, more full. It's maximalist experimentation with dance music: lot of sounds and lots of elements. I used to play that kind of music. But then I realized that it wasn't personally gratifying me. And so when I said I wanted to do something that people would not expect, I meant I wanted to go in the opposite direction of that. I wanted to make music that was still and repetitive, the opposite of the explosive sounds and countless layers.

GN: Sure. Majical Cloudz is more about slower-building depth.  

DW: Yeah exactly. It's the other side of the coin. I'm trying to go for as little as possible, to have it focused on a person who's singing words to the audience. No distractions.

GN: Minimal as it may be, it seems pretty emotionally charged.

DW: That's what gratifies me as a songwriter, that I can really make it say something that means something to me. When I perform it's not just singing about nothing. I think that's another thing that's on the other spectrum of big, maximalist music. I wanted to make music that was more personal, more human. Storytellling rather than taking people on a journey through the sound. A dance track doesn't tell a story.

GN: Whats the most important thing that the album communicates to you?

DW: The first songs I wrote on the album are all kind of about the same thing, which is that I'll be singing and confronting my own personal thoughts and fears and I don't care what you think. It's about feeling powerful that i'm being completely straight up with the audience, that I'm not striking a pose. You feel strength from that. You can either feel strong by putting on a front and acting tough or from making yourself vulnerable. That's my mindframe.

GN: Was that nerve-wracking to accomplish, especially now with the reach of a major label?

DW: Yeah. Yes it kind of is. Especially when you're playing songs that are about things that are super personal and that I don't even talk or think about outside of the context of the music.  And then it's just out there and I'm like "What have I done?" It's all gonna come back to bite me in the ass or something. But I feel good about it. I'd rather have that than to have made a bunch of music that doesn't have any significance to me. That's how I want art that I love to speak to me. And that's how I want to make it.

Majical Cloudz play the Triple Rock on Monday, March 4 with Autre Ne Veut. 7:30 p.m. $8/$10 at the door.

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