That was the facetiously pornographic moniker that Gal Gracen leader Patrick Geraghty first arrived upon when he envisioned a pop-oriented side-project away from his other group, Role Mach. The band was designed as a collaboration with Apollo Ghosts frontman Adrian Teacher and local songwriter Jay Arner, and Geraghty volunteered the band to play a feminist music festival called Smash Patriarchy.
“We hadn’t had a chance to learn any songs yet, but I really wanted to play a show, and I just posted on the Smash Patriarchy Facebook event that I was enlisting us to play at the show,” he tells BeatRoute during an interview at Wendy’s on Cambie St.
So how did the women react to the news that a band called Dick Fingers wanted to play their show? “They said we could,” Geraghty remembers of the good-natured joke, noting that he ended up skipping the gig. “I don’t know if anyone expected us to show up, but I think if we had shown up, they would have given us some time to just bash around.”
By the time Music Waste rolled around in 2012, Geraghty had rechristened the project Gal Gracen after a character from a piece of medieval fiction he wrote for a school assignment several years prior.
“I feel kind of bad roping in Jay and Adrian and having unilaterally chosen the band name for us without having more of a discussion with them,” he admits. Later in the discussion, he adds, “They’re both extremely busy with their own projects, so I don’t think they mind if I take the reigns a bit. But it’s not intentional. I’m really lucky to be surrounded by two of the most talented people in Vancouver. It’s an open call for submissions — anything that they want to contribute is welcome.”
Both Teacher (guitar) and Arner (synths/programming) factor heavily in Gal Gracen’s dance party-inspiring live shows, but the project’s newly released tape, Blue Hearts in Exile, is almost entirely Geraghty’s work. After recording some short drum loops with Arner, the frontman constructed seven sprawling indie-pop tracks utilizing hypnotic guitar doodles and swaths of soporific reverb.
Cuts like “Love Fantasy, My Beautiful Girl” and “Sylvan Tragedy” set a romantic, nocturnal mood that Geraghty says is designed for mellow background listening. “I wanted something that’s just totally innocuous that people can put on in the background and it won’t stress them out at all,” he explains modesty. “I’m not trying to steal anyone’s attention. It’s just wallpaper music. Muzak is the way to go.”
The songs’ atmospheric sound was captured at Little Mountain Gallery, where Geraghty utilized microphones placed across the room in order to capture plenty of natural reverb with minimal need for artificial effects. The vocals were later overdubbed after hours in Black Dog Video and edited together using the long-outdated computer program Cool Edit Pro.
He notes that the collection’s final track, the epic “Blue Hearts 2,” took shape after Green Burrito Records told him to flesh out the album’s second half. Laughing, he reveals, “Originally, one side of the tape was 16 minutes, and the other side was 10 or 11 minutes, so the last song of the tape, they asked me just to put some filler on there. I stretched out a song that was originally two minutes to eight minutes. I just recorded myself playing guitar and sped it up to 400%, put a ton of effects on it and had it stretch across the second half of the cassette tape.”
Is a blissful piece of ambient pop, but Geraghty says that future Gal Gracen releases will likely find him pushing in new directions. “I’d like to do a recording with the band that’s a bit more dream-pop-sci-fi-fantasy,” he muses. “I’m pretty inconsistent. My tastes kind of change with the moment.”
Gal Gracen performs at Chapel Arts on March 8.
By Alex Hudson
Photo: Sarah Whitlam