Derrival has been busy working under the radar for over a year on their debut self-titled album, following their excellent EP, Departure and Arrival, which attracted national attention. The five-piece synth pop band came second in the 2014 Peak Performance Project and was mentored by Kardinal Offishall and Sam Roberts through the Allan Slaight JUNO Masterclass program. Lead vocalist and guitarist Adam Mah chats about wanting to fit into the Vancouver scene, what it’s like to be signed, and how a collaboration with Gallant would be sweet.
Speaking on the band’s sound when they were first starting out, Mah recounts the poppy indie rock sound dominating Vancouver in the early 2010s.
“We were a lot more focused on the local scene – bands like Said the Whale and We Are the City,” says Mah. “Back then, the conversation was ‘How can we fit in sonically?’ Now, I feel like we made a very conscious decision on this album not to sound like a Vancouver band. We wanted to sound like we could be from the States or anywhere in the world.”
In addition to the influence they drew from local bands, the band has a rhythm section with a highly eclectic musical background.
“[Drummer] Dan [Kozlowski] has a metal influence with his double kick pedal,” says Mah. “[Bassist] Deven [Azevedo] loves Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. As you grow up, influences change – we wanted to do something that was more of a stadium sound.”
One of the most interesting aspects of Derrival’s approach is how each member specializes in a different corner of the industry, allowing much of their work to be contained in-house.
“Glen [Jackson, guitarist] has been doing grant writing, working a lot at Boompa Records and delving into video stuff,” Mah explains. “Shane [Stephenson, keyboardist] went to school for music production. Dan does a lot of the social media stuff. I think it’s great being able to do stuff yourself. We just signed on to AntiFragile Music in New York. It really opens your eyes – you have to be on the ball with everything even more so.”
Since being signed to AntiFragile, their approach to music and business hasn’t changed much. The band is enjoying the added resources available to them, such as in-house publicists and Spotify playlist pitchers. They were signed by Tom Sarig, an ex-A&R at Universal who managed Lou Reed.
Mah’s wishlist for future collaborators is super diverse.
“Lights would be cool to collaborate with. It would be fun to do something with a rapper – we met Sonreal at the Junos. Even something with an R&B singer like Gallant.”
Derrival’s journey from starting as a Vancouver indie rock to a “stadium pop” act signed to a New York label has led to endless reinvention and modernization of themselves. By making sure to maintain an active presence in many facets of the music industry, the band is sure to make a splash this coming year.
Derrival play the Biltmore Cabaret on March 17 with Smash Boom Pow and Leisure Club.adam mah, departure and arrival, Derrival, Peak Performance Project, Said the Whale, shane stephenson, We Are the City