Catherine McCandless has stepped up to the mic and taken command of the lead vocals for the Vancouver-born Young Galaxy on their latest record, Ultramarine (Paper Bag Records). Escaping the oppressive Montreal heat to chat lyrics with us, McCandless is candid, delving into the vulnerability and energy of their music. Ultramarine has been shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize this year and the band will be embarking on a North American tour throughout September. The liquid percussive synths and humid summer atmosphere evoked in Ultramarine is reflective of McCandless’ ethereal personality. She is absolutely translated through the tone of the record.
McCandless’ alto seems an inherently organic fit to tracks like “New Summer” and “Hard to Tell,” but she wasn’t always comfortable singing in Young Galaxy.
“I’ve always loved choral music and singing but was a very shy and private singer. It feels intimate to me to sing. I feel naked when I’m singing, so it took me a long time,” she confesses.
“[Singing] is about your breath, it’s about control of all these muscles in your body. It’s about stance. It’s about power, I mean from within yourself. I had to be brave about that.”
McCandless’ expresses that Ultramarine is about instinct and feeling.
“We wanted to throw lyrics out a little bit and words to have less gravity to them. We wanted them to be instinctive and musically speaking the lyrics, melody and vocals became much more percussive and more to do with the feel.” With Ultramarine, Young Galaxy explored more pop elements.
“We are definitely trying to find something that his more to do with the visceral or the dance, anything with movement behind it, momentum sort of the animal energy of music,” she continues.
YG has been toted as a highly earnest band and McCandless comments that this is because it took some time to feel as though they could call themselves musicians
“We needed to counter that feeling of impostor within ourselves, by only putting out and only performing what felt most real to us.”
Check out the visceral stylings of the deep Ultramarine. You can catch Young Galaxy at the West End Cultural Centre (Winnipeg) on September 18, at SAIT’s Gateway (Calgary) on September 21 and at Avenue Theatre (Edmonton) on September 22.
By Natasha Puka
Photo: Joe Yarmush