By Sebastian Buzzalino
CALGARY — Toronto-via-Edmonton singer Michael Rault has undergone a transformation in his young career. After spending some time in bands seemingly going nowhere, he stepped out on his own as a semi-solo artist, playing deceptively catchy, classic-inspired rock and roll that takes from the best moments of ‘60s pysch, pop and R&B. The affable musician took some time to talk to BeatRoute after his Commonwealth show during Stampede last month to chat about his new EP, Living Daylight, about working with his cousin, Renny Wilson, and about branching off in new directions.
BeatRoute: You’ve been touring around in support of Living Daylight for a couple of months, now. What’s the reception been like across the country?
Michael Rault: I think it’s been pretty good. It was a little bit different than anything I’ve done before. I guess it was a bit similar, but I wasn’t sure what people who liked my old stuff were going to think. For the most part, it’s been good. Some people kind of wish I was still doing more of that old sound and that’s cool — they can listen to my older material that’s still out there.
I’ve been enjoying the new direction and I’m pretty happy with some of the new stuff that goes further in a broader direction that I kind of laid down on Daylight. I’m not necessarily tied down to these pop/R&B things. It’s cool to be able to open up the restrictions on what my sound can be.
BR: The ‘60s are a huge influence on Daylight, but your own style is unmistakable on the album. How do you ensure you’re not just a throwback act, writing songs that sound derivative?
MR: It’s definitely a huge influence. I don’t really have any major ways of making sure it’s not derivative, though — that’s a good question. I don’t make it sound particularly retro or anything. It just sounds like that — I just try to write good songs.
BR: Living Daylight originally started out as a full album, but you culled it down to a 10-track EP. What songs got left behind?
MR: A couple of songs got cut, yeah. Basically, it came down to a couple of songs I pre-recorded on my previous EP. I redid them for the album and, at the time, I was still really excited about adding the songs to the record. By the time I had to put it all together and it was close to coming out, I was getting tired of some of the songs and thought they were kind of boring. That being said, there’s actually a good chance a full album may be released in the near future — that’ll be interesting. For the most part, I’ve learned that, even if I’m a bit tired of the songs, they still hold up for other people, since they haven’t heard them as much as I have. I’ve warmed up to the idea of putting them out when the time comes around. In the meantime, I’m focusing on the release of this EP.
BR: You mentioned opening up your sound on this EP and on future releases. Was there any apprehension before the release of Daylight? Any thoughts on perhaps moving too far from your base?
MR: I was a bit nervous and considered naming it a new project, as well. When I first met up with Renny Wilson to talk about the record, I showed him my demos and told him how I was thinking about taking a new direction and he was really stoked on it, he thought it was a good idea. He was pretty encouraging. He said, “You know, people are going to dig it. And if you alienate some fans, you know, that’s kinda cool, too.” I was kind of like, “OK, I’ll give it a shot.” For the most part, it’s been well received, so that’s been good.
I like so many kinds of music, it’s a bit limited to do the same thing all the time. The perception of the ‘60s R&B retro guy is kind of limiting and there’s so much music out there that I don’t want to feel like I have to keep pumping out the same style.
Living Daylight is available now via Pirate Blend Records.AB, Alberta, Living Daylight, Michael Rault