I already interviewed Gary a couple of years ago but some important news were boiling for our synthpop hero. His new album has been released by Cohaagen Records and I wanted to update my old interview (which you can find on our database section) and I wanted to chat with him again 🙂 Check his new album, it’s worth it!
Chain D.L.K.: Before “Future Fashion” you released three other albums can you do a balance of the years passed and can you judge your own work debscribing the releases?
Gary Flanagan: Sure! Well, it is no secret that “Future Fashion” is very different from my previous releases. Most noteably, it is a professional pressing, whereas my previous releases were handmade CDRs. If I were to describe my previous albums, it would be like this: “Anthems For the Young At Heart” was my very first CD and I still receive compliments about it. People seemed to really enjoy the fact that I was doing lo-fi synthpop in my bedroom with second-hand synthesizers. I think the rough edges of this album only added to its charm. I’m still quite proud of it. “Another Coin in the Daydream Machine” was a bit more ambitious than the previous disc. Many people seemed to criticize the fact that many of the keyboard parts sounded out of tune, but again, I sincerely like music that is deliberately “not perfect”. I think that only adds to the human element. A few of the songs on this one I am very proud of, but in hindsight, if I could go back I would have changed a few things. “Dressed In Black” was a showcase of my more obscure and experimental tracks. It was my friend Corey who suggested that I do a disc like this, and he released it on his Eleven Wave label. It is a real “mixed bag”, and I’m proud of the fact that it illustrates that I dabble in more than just synthpop. I was thrilled when it became a hit on campus radio.
Chain D.L.K.: Why did you decide to include old tracks in the new album and how did you choose them?
Gary Flanagan: The songs that were chosen to be on the album were selected by Ganymede (David Friede and Patrick Runkle). I think they felt that those particular songs would be the best representation of my style. It’s rather obvious that their production married rather well to my quirky songwriting sensibilities! Of course, not all of the songs are old. Three of them are brand new tracks that were co-written between myself and Ganymede. Plus, the album also includes two amazing remixes by Fr/action and Simulator.
Chain D.L.K.: Can you tell us how you met Ganymede and in what way you’ve collaborated with them on this CD?
Gary Flanagan: Ganymede and myself used to be label mates on the Ninthwave label that is operated by David Richards. They decided to branch out on their own and form their own label Cohaagen, and in the process they offered to release “Future Fashion” on their label. The music is produced in their studio in California, and I record my vocals in my tiny home studio here in eastern Canada. Then the two elements are put together with computer technology. For the new songs, they sent me the music tracks and I listened to them until I came up with some lyrics.
Chain D.L.K.: “Metro Boulot Dodo” reminds me a little of the funny Telex songs sung in French. Is there any correlation with them? Do they inspire you? What is it about?
Gary Flanagan: It was actually Ganymede who suggested that we do a french rap, and when I heard that suggestion I thought it was a great idea. After all, I am usually fascinated by such bizarre and unusual styles of music! I am a big fan of Telex (especially their song “Pakmovast”) but I wouldn’t exactly consider them an influence. “Metro Boulot Dodo” is a local french saying that is equivalent to the english expression of “I get up, I go to work, I come home, I go to bed”. It’s all about the rhythm of the city and two friends having fun on a Friday night.
Chain D.L.K.: Recently, after all these years, you started to perform live. Can you tell us how you prepare for the set and what your audience can expect?
Gary Flanagan: Performing live is everything for me now. I even enjoy it more than songwriting or recording. I had a CD release party last Saturday at the local university and the response was fantastic. I have been told that I am a great showman, and when I get on stage I become very free and animated. I have a strong background in theatre and I constantly draw upon that when I perform. Some people use drugs as a form of escape, I use the stage. If I can make people dance, then I know I’ve done my job. For preparations, I put together a set (usually half an hour long) and rehearse it constantly weeks before the show. My setup on stage is EXTREMELY simple…I only use a tape deck, microphone and synthesizer, that’s it. Simplicity is very important for me.
Chain D.L.K.: A month ago or so A Different Drum with other synthpop labels released a statement about mp3’s and piracy. What do you think about file sharing in relation to support for small labels? Don’t you think that most of the people would gladly support labels if they did dig the material or do you think that people dig everything as long as it’s free?
Gary Flanagan: Well, I know that if I discover a band that genuinely excites me, I would gladly order their CD. I think this is important. You’re not helping a band or artist if you download all their stuff off the net for free. If you really like a band, support them by buying their CD.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you ever thought to do a video clip for one of your tracks? Which track would you pick and how would you do it?
Gary Flanagan: I actually have made videos in the past, and it is always a lot of fun. I also have a strong background in film (I briefly went to film school) and I am a very visually-oriented person. Making a video for one of my new songs would be great. I actually did attempt to shoot a video for “Summertime” a few years ago. It was done on Super 8. But the footage is still sitting in my bedroom, unedited. Someday I’d like to finish it.
Chain D.L.K.: In our last interview you told me that the electronic scene in Canada was almost non-existent. Has the situation changed in these years?
Gary Flanagan: Yes, I am happy to say that it seems that things have improved, at least a little bit since our last interview. It seems more and more people are turning to electronics and I couldn’t be happier. In fact, there was recently an article about the small but healthy electronic scene in my hometown of Saint John in a local paper. Sometimes Saint John kind of reminds me of Sheffield, England and the music scene that popped up there in the late 70s, early 80s. They are both very poor, bleak, working class industrial cities with very fertile music scenes. I’m sure the scene here will continue to grow and grow as more and more folks dabble with electronics!
[interviewed by Maurizio Pustianaz] [proofreading by Marc Urselli]