By Mike Dunn
EDMONTON – In our era of increased communication between people via digital media, at first connecting us unlike any media had before, and more recently being used to distort our perceptions and literally keep us separate from each other, Edmonton MC Arlo Maverick saw an opportunity to reflect our current reality through music on his upcoming record, Soul Merchant, tentatively due in next spring.
“With Soul Merchant, I’ve been trying to look into how technology has affected our actual reality,” says Maverick. “How we interact with technology, and in turn with each other. How that technology affects intimate relationships. There’s a song on the record called ‘Phone Check’ that features Fendercase on the chorus, and Selassie doing a verse. The premise behind the song is being in a relationship with someone who’s essentially living their life through their social media, and our relationship is being broadcast for other people’s consumption. It becomes a situation where, ‘oOh, this moment has to be captured so that people can see that we’re in a loving relationship, people have to see we’re going here, going there,’ or, ‘I can’t wear this outfit again because people have seen it.’ And so the song is a rejection of that kind of living, the idea of being present and together, without the voyeurism of the digital neighbourhood having to be present too.”
In a twist of digital irony, the early writing and ideas for Soul Merchant were lost while Maverick was on tour in Europe in 2017. “I’d started getting the ideas together in the summer of 2016 when I was travelling,” says Maverick. “My phone ended up dying, and it contained all the songs that I had been writing. It was a situation where ideas were being inspired because of all these really cool experiences, and it was all being channeled while I was on the road, and then my phone dies. It put me under this huge creative block where I couldn’t write anything, and then last summer, again while travelling, the creative flow came back. I think maybe the experiences of travelling helped pull me out of the block.”
Maverick adds that Soul Merchant will differ sonically from its predecessor, 2016’s Maybe Tomorrow, with more of an urban R&B feel, where Maybe Tomorrow featured some bigger rock and club vibes. “I worked with Michael Schlosser, who produces a lot of artists from Toronto. He wasn’t familiar with my earlier stuff, so he’s not coming in and trying to build on an established sound, and I like that. A lot of artists, whether Drake, Kanye, or whoever, they’re consistently looking to go against the grain with the sound of a record, and that kind of constant evolution is an artistic path I’d like to follow as well.”
Arlo Maverick headlines on New Year’s Eve at The Aviary (Edmonton).Arlo Maverick, The Aviary, The Presence of Reality