Words: Gabriel Knowles Images: Carine Thevenau
In Australia we don’t always like to admit it but sometimes we find out about things a little later than other parts of the world. Canyons are one of those such things, which is odd because while they were planting themselves on the radar in New York and London in 2007 they were still holed up in Perth with the local industry none the wiser. “It’s interesting how people in Australia picked up on our stuff, we had a whole lot of interest from overseas first.” Explains Ryan Sea-Mist. “That’s initially where we got positive feedback from.” Leo Holiday, the other half of Canyons chimes in. “We got a little bit of love New York first and then distributors picked it up in London.”
With no other way to release their own brand of cosmic/disco/pop/undefinable music the DJ/producers decided to start their own label, Hole In The Sky. Before long they’d also released tracks by good friends Tame Impala and The Delicate Genius.
“I guess when you do your own thing it gives you the freedom to realise your vision and ideas. The less processes between you making the music and someone buying it the better.” Leo begins. “You’ve got complete control over how you want it to sound and look and the avenues you want to take. If you get it right it’s really rewarding. You’re not worried about what people are thinking, you just do it because you want to.” Ryan continues. “We didn’t have distribution when we first started H.I.T.S. so we were just selling them through our website and the first person who bought one we wrote them a note saying ‘you’re the first to buy the record, thanks so much.”
“We were always going down to the post office and posting one or two at a time. Then a few big online stores like Turntable Lab in New York and Juno in the UK started ordering 30 at a time and their feedback was really good. But then when we went to the post office and the postage would be like $22 and we’d only charged $10!” Laughs Leo before admitting that an account at the post office was duly opened and postage got slightly more affordable. “We were only just breaking even at that stage.” Ryan adds – it’s hard to tell if he’s serious or not. In any case he explains just how important that operation has been for them.
“This DFA record (Fire Eyes) has come directly from one of those records. Justin Miller from DFA Records bought the record and started a mix with it, I emailed him to say thanks and we just started communicating, trading music and all that kind of thing and from there they asked us if we had anything we wanted to do with them. From one of those first twenty we sent to New York the DFA release has come about.”
As part of the DFA release they’re headed off to the United States to play the infamous People Don’t Dance No More boat party and Summer Stage, a festival in Central Park, which has got them a little nervous. “I guess going to DJ in a place like New York where they a lot more access to records than what we do so it’s a bit scary. You hope that they won’t say ‘not this song again’ and that they’re going to enjoy what we play.” Leo concedes humbly.
It’s hard to define just where Canyons fit in, which they play up to, but if their DJ sets are anything to go by they could hold the answer. “We play a lot of old house, disco, boogie, early 80s stuff, stuff that’s a little bit strange but still funky. It’s reflective of where we’re coming from musically.” Explains Ryan. “But at home all I’m listening too at the moment is The Beatles.”
Having signed with Modular earlier this year after moving to Sydney little over a year ago the boys are now just settling down to record their first full length album which has forced them to put a hold on their ever popular remix service.
“I guess because when we do a remix we aren’t just adding the signature sound to it so we’ll only take on a remix if we can bring something else to it or add something to the track. When you do that you’re using your ideas, there’s been a few instances when we’ve basically written an entirely new track as a remix using only little bits of vocals and we’ve realised we probably could have used that for our own song. That’s not a bad thing but if you’ve only got a certain amount of time to make an album you can’t keep doing that.” Leo points out. “We sort have to save it for ourselves at the moment,” confirms Ryan before giving his sidekick the final word.
“What we want to do is make an album that people want to own as a whole, not just tracks four and six or something. Not just ten tracks you could download separately.”
Download the latest Canyons track Blue Snakes by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The Canyons 12″ Fire Eyes is out on DFA from August 11 and their album will be out via Modular in the not too distant future. Before that they play Splendour In The Grass in Byron Bay on July 25-26.
Words: Gabriel Knowles Images: Carine Thevenau