Devon Welsh’s strain of melancholy is powerful and provoking, manifested in synth ballads whose instrumental presences are diffuse in sound but made vivid through the potent acuity of his lyrics and their delivery. Beginning as a solo project, Welsh procured the efforts of Matthew Otto and both have since been perpetuating confessionals under the Majical Cloudz moniker. Together, they have ripened a sound so rich in sorrowed sentiment, its tendrils hold you captive.
Since Otto married into the project, Welsh expresses the experience has been gratifying. “I think we have strengths that complement each other in terms of our skills in music. We have a good system going where I will write the songs, but they will kind of be demos, and then we work on turning them into something that’s more fully formed,” he says, noting that “[Otto] has a producer’s ear that I lack. It’s been the most fruitful musical collaboration that I’ve had so far.”
Welsh laments with such striking palpability, something he confesses, because his devotion to inheriting experience and furthermore transferring that experience to audiences is paramount.
“From a personal angle, I think I just got interested in making music as a mode of expressing myself lyrically, and in words, as a kind of testament to human experience or to a person’s experience,” says Welsh. “For that reason, I wanted the words to be as clear as possible because in terms of playing it live or making recordings, it’s about communicating the words and divulging to the audience.
“That’s kind of what I connect with in music that I listen to generally,” continues Welsh. “I like to hear people’s words; I get interested in music largely by listening to lyrics and how the words work in the context of the music. I think it just came out of what about writing music and performing interested me and what my interests as a listener are as well.”
He admits the essence of the content isn’t always perceivable to him at first, that much of what he manifests into words reveal their nuances posteriorly, as afterthoughts.
“I think the words in the songs constantly reveal themselves to me as time goes by. I don’t think I thought about them that much when I was making the music,” Welsh muses. “I mean, they had a certain significance to me but it was really only when we put out the album that I could stand back from it and see all the songs and lyrics together and there would be these moments of realization about their meanings.”
The work of Majical Cloudz is profoundly sobering in how it wrenches. You might be moved to tears and it wouldn’t be the first and only time, admits Welsh on his emotional confrontations.
“I try to not let pretense or prescribed ways of going about things guide the way we exist as a band. I guess I just try to cultivate as much directness with people as possible and not try to hide behind anything.”
Catch Majical Cloudz on August 16th at Brixx (Edmonton) and August 17th at the Hifi Club (Calgary).
By Nivedita Iyer
Photo: Denis Nazarov