The music industry is constantly transforming, and having an edge and distinction in music can separate acts into memorable and forgettable categories; and in years prior, the summer to autumn transition can be an exciting time for new artists. We’ve seen the likes of Ed Sheeran, Newton Faulkner, Kurt Vile and James Bay, all rise to fame in this transitional season yet their patterns and aesthetics have become increasingly recognisable and predictable.
Cue Montreal based Jesse Mac Cormack, a solo artist with a raw and refined element to his music. Growing up in a country surrounded by diversity and culture has allowed this Canadian musician to seamlessly blend electronica and acoustic into an exciting form that strays from the over saturated ballads we’re all too familiar with.
GIGsoup contributor John Gittins had the chance to chat to Jesse about his upcoming EP ‘After the Glow’ and his single ‘Never Enough’.
You blend a variety of electronica elements against a lot of robust and harsher dynamics of acoustic instruments. Who did you look to for direction and inspiration to achieve this hybrid form of music
I remember falling in love with Radiohead and going to a record store to ask if they knew any band aside from Radiohead that blended rock music and electronic sounds as well as they did. I can say that band were the first to make me look that way.
Based in Montreal you follow a trend of innovative and eclectic artists such as Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, & Godspeed You! Black Emperor to name a few. How do you think Montreal’s scene has helped give direction to its artists and can you add any of your own favourite local legends to the list?
How did the Montreal music scene influence me? Other than to incite me to play shows because there are lots places to play and lots of people who go to shows, I don’t know. Maybe it keeps me alive, maybe it doesn’t. Can’t say, I’ve never lived anywhere else. The thing is that here there are a shitload of musicians trying make it and also just making it. The scene is alive.
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‘Never Enough’ delves deep into synths with a developing introduction that progresses with 80’s style synthesisers, to violins, to cowbells, with a constant fuzz guitar tone. What sort of gear has helped you achieve your signature sound and how do you manage to keep order in your songs when so much is going on?
Bass, Juno, Tape echos and tube preamps. That’s what it is. There’s a lot in there for sure. For order, it’s like cleaning your room, you gotta to make space for everything, throw stuff away, make sure the floor is well cleaned and most important of all, open the window to let air and light into the room. Make it feel fresh and clean!
Behind the synthesizers and drones lies a recognisable twang of acoustic guitar, not at all unfamiliar to the likes of John Butler Trio, and Matt Corby. Do you think the task of proving yourself as a singer songwriter especially as a solo guitarist is getting harder against the world’s pop and rap preferences in solo artists?
I honestly don’t have the ambition of proving anything to anyone. I’ve never thought of making money with my music. It’s not a competition, just a way of expression. We must not judge, compare or fear in art. It’s only a question of doing what you do.
This Jesse Mac Cormack article was written by John Gittins, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo: Frédérique Bérubé