Q&A with Tunes Against Tuition performers

Windmills and Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk interviewed ahead of Sept. 6 free concert

twobandsTRU­SU, Tunes Against Tuition, is set to hit campus on Sept. 6, but we figured it might be a good idea to know a little about the bands ahead of time.

Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk

Q: What was behind your decision to start your own record label, rath­er than get picked up by an existing one?

A: One thing that’s always been very important to us is owning the rights to our own recordings, so that has led us down the path of trying to release music ourselves. That, and we hadn’t had any con­nections with record labels, so we went in the direction that seemed most natural. We were able to foster a relationship with Fontana North to get distribution in Canada as well as distribution in the US with another company, so that has been a big help in getting our music out there.

Q: Who is your biggest musical in­fluence/inspiration right now?

A: Recently I’ve really been digging Arcade Fire’s album Reflektor. Ev­erything from the lyrics, to the in­strumentation, to the wide range of dynamics has been super inspiring for me as of late.

Q: Are there any bands or musi­cians who have provided helpful guidance or advice for you?

A: We are actually in the middle of the Peak Performance Project Boot Camp in Princeton, B.C., so for the past week we’ve been surrounded by other bands and industry pro­fessionals and we’ve been learning about all the facets of being a band and how to be better. I’d say it’s been one of the most grueling but rewarding band experiences we’ve had, and I’ve learned so much that I think will help us in all the stages of our career.

Q: When you’re performing on stage, what is your favourite thing to see the audience doing?

A: We love crowd participation, so I love seeing the audience clapping along or dancing or just having fun. If we can draw the audience into the music with us and they have a good time and express that, I think we’ve done our job.

Q: What has been the best venue that you’ve preformed at so far, as far as energy and feeling from the crowd?

A: We’ve played a lot of really fun shows, some with a very small num­ber of people that are just as fun as bigger shows. Recently though, I think one of my favourite shows was at the Black Sheep Inn in Wake­field, Q.C. There were about 120 people there (which is significantly more than most of our headlining club shows) and everyone was there for the music, so they were all really into the show. Those types of envi­ronments are my favourite, where the energy of the audience fuels what is happening on stage and it’s an incredible experience for every­one.

Q: We are witnessing a rise in pop­ularity of music festivals. Do you play at a lot of festivals? What do you think about the culture sur­rounding festivals?

A: We haven’t played as many fes­tivals as we’d like, but when we do, we really enjoy them! I love the en­vironment that festivals foster, how everyone gets together for the love of music and art. I also really like playing shows for kids, because they are so fearless and really express themselves when they listen to mu­sic.

Q: Your touring schedule is intense. What motivates you to plan tours the way you do?

A: Surprisingly, the tours aren’t as intense as they used to be, but it’s definitely a very busy schedule. Touring has been a mainstay of our career, and it’s what we’ve put most of our energy into, so we’ve spent most of the past few years on the road. This year is the first year where we’ve had to work our tours around things like the Searchlight contest, and the Peak Performance Project, which are both really exciting op­portunities that we’ve been involved in. So we’ve been touring a little less, which has mostly meant not going into the U.S. at all this year, but still covering all of Canada.

Q: Can you name one personal item you cannot go on tour without?

A: There’s a long list, but I would definitely not leave home without my songwriting notebook and a few good hats (for those times when showers are in short supply).

Q: How do you make yourself at home while on the road?

A: I really enjoy knitting, so I al­ways make sure to have some yarn with me so I can work on projects while we drive. It’s very relaxing, and it’s also nice to have another little creative outlet. I also bring my slippers along and they always make me feel cozy.

Q: What is your favourite meal or snack to eat while on the road?

A: This year I started making a big batch of granola before tour for snacks and breakfasts, and now it’s something I make sure to always have on hand. As for meals, I gen­erally try to find a local, fairly cheap restaurant in whatever city we’re in. It’s always nice to experience the local flavour.

Q: What is the very first thing you do when you get home from a long tour?

A: Definitely cuddle with my cat, Max. And then do laundry.

Q: Fast-forward to five years from now. What do you see yourselves doing?

A: I would love to see us taking our music to other parts of the world. My goal has always been to be able to see the world and play music (which is much easier said than done) but I hope that we can make it to Europe, South America, Aus­tralia, basically as many places as possible to share our music.

Q: Do you have a message or any­thing you’d like to say to your fans?

A: We’re really looking forward to hanging out with all of you and I hope you’ll all be ready to dance along and have a good time!

Cory Myraas of Windmills

Q: I tried researching you online, and I got a lot of information about actu­al windmills. What made you choose Windmills for your name?

A: It came from a random conversa­tion with friends. The imagery of a windmill constantly in motion really appealed to me. Applying it to what to what I do in my live performances with looping, it’s a fantastic correla­tion between the consistency of al­ways being on the move and always adding to the sound and never sitting back and letting the sound stay stag­nant.

Q: Who is your biggest musical in­fluence/inspiration right now?

A: Fyfe out of the UK. He creates these beautiful layered songs. He’s a fantastic artist. Aidan Knight, is a big contemporary that I draw a lot of inspiration from. Coincidentally, I was scheduled to open for Aidan in Kelowna, but sadly the scheduling fell through, so our paths almost crossed. I played a show a few days later and there was a girl, she asked for my au­tograph. She asked me to sign her iPhone and Aidan had signed the phone at his show that I was sup­posed to open for. So now my terrible signature is next to Aidan Knight’s. So in a way, everything worked out.

Q: If you couldn’t be a musician, what would you end up doing?

A: Trying to be a musician. I don’t know, I am an English major. I went to school and got the piece of paper. English and writing has always been my passion but music has always been the thing that makes the most sense to me.

Q: Being a one-man band must allow for a lot of creative freedom, is that part of the reason why you chose to perform alone?

A: There’s a lot of creative freedom working as a solo artist. But I also find it remarkably challenging and restricting. It forces me to pay atten­tion to what I’m doing and not to add things just for the sake of adding things. It’s a balance between cre­atively freeing and restricting, which is what I find most enjoyable.

Q: Who do you turn to for feedback?

A: I’ve been really fortunate with my friend group and the band circles I’ve worked with. A band from Kam­loops called Van Damsel… we always throw ideas back and forth. The au­dio engineers I’ve worked with… I’ve always gotten their feedback. Putting the song in the audience’s ears and getting their feedback is always the best way.

Q: When you’re performing on stage, what is your favourite thing to see the audience doing? Do you ever see them on their phones?

A: I always love trying to catch that audience in the first 30 seconds of the song. Maybe they are in a conversation or maybe they are on their phones. I start playing and doing my thing. Of course, you’ll always play shows with people on their phones, but maybe they’re texting someone about how good I am. (Laughing) It comes with the territory.

Q: We are witnessing a rise in popular­ity of music festivals. Do you play any festivals? What do you think about the culture surrounding festivals?

A: This summer has been fantastic. I’ve been a part of two festivals already. The week after I play at TRU I’m go­ing to play at Rifflandia in Victoria. Somehow I’m opening up for Half Moon Run. As a musician, seeing all these festivals pop up, I think it’s fan­tastic. It not only opens up for bands to reach new ears, it also gives music lovers more opportunities to reach new bands.

Q: Fast-forward to five years from now. What do you see yourself doing?

A: Probably the same thing, to be honest. I’d love to be touring Europe. Maybe by then I will be able to grow a full beard properly. So I’ll look a lot tougher. I’ve got five years to do it. If I don’t have a beard, I’ll quit.

Q: Do you have a message or any­thing you’d like to say to your fans?

A: Just a really huge overwhelming and humbling thank you. I look at what I’m doing as kind of selfish. I’m playing my songs for other people. I’m always blown away by the re­sponse and the fact that people keep coming to my shows. Just a massive thank you, as cliché as that sounds. But it is true.