“Go to live shows! ” Future Peers im Interview

Hinter dem Namen Future Peers stecken die vier Musiker Luke Correia-Damude, Michael Loebl, Antonio Naranjo und William Culbert. Zwar sind sie unter diesem Namen noch recht frisch am Start, aber davor waren sie schon gemeinsam als Boys Who Say No unterwegs.

Mit Kevin Drew von Broken Social Scene haben sie einen bekannten Mentor. Zusammen mit Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Weezer, Julian Casablancas) hat dieser ihr Debütalbum produziert, welches am 9. Dezember erscheint.

Von der ersten Single Craft war ich ziemlich geflasht. Ich schrieb sogar Song des Jahres, und ich bin mir fast sicher, dass er es wirklich in meine Top Ten schaffen wird.

Ich bat um ein Interview, denn ich war angefixt. Auf meine Fragen bekam ich ausführliche Antworten von Luke, und vor allem die Frage nach der aktuellen Lage der Musikindustrie beantwortete er sehr intensiv.

Da gerade die Vorweihnachtszeit begonnen hat und diese bis zur Bescherung in vielen Belangen sehr stressig ist, habe ich leider keine Zeit für eine Übersetzung. Ich hoffe, du verstehst das.

Hello! Thanks for taking the time answering some questions! Can you please introduce yourself?

My Name is Luke Correia-Damude. I am the lead Singer and Guitar player for FUTURE PEERS.

As far as I know, you rose from the ashes of Boys Who Say No. How and why did you transform into Future Peers?

Boys Who Say No was a great project. We spent many years touring and playing shows all across North America. As we aged as a band, we also grew as musicians.

The music started changing and the direction we were taking with our composition was quite a departure from the songs we had previously made as Boys Who Say No. Over the years a few members had changed over and the current structure of the band really felt strong and creatively synced so we wanted to give a fresh chance to the music we were making.

We could have released a third album as Boys Who Say No but we were never wildly successful so we felt that we would take our chances as a new band with a new name and a new sound.

There’s a lot of hype about your band because you worked with Kevin Drew and Shawn Everett. What’s the story behind it?

I met Kevin many years ago. We had mutual friends and of course crossed paths a lot in the Toronto music scene. I would see him at shows or parties etc. I also used to serve him a lot at a restaurant I used to be a waiter at. We became closer through our regular interactions at the restaurant discussing food, wine and music.

“You Forget it in People” was a really significant album for me and I think for “Indie” music in general so of course I was very impressed with Kevin and glad to have formed a friendship. I invited him to a Boys Who Say No show and to my surprise he actually showed up. He was very supportive of the band and the music we were making. He was keen to offer advice and discuss the craft of music.

Kevin was acting as head of the “Indie Music Residency” at the Banff Art Centre and he selected us to be one of the 4 bands involved in this artist residency. We worked very closely with Kevin and Charles Spearin (also of Broken Social Scene & Do Make Say Think) at the art centre. We were left to create and record and they would act as mentors to us. This is also where we met Shawn Everett.

Before Shawn was a Grammy Award Winning Engineer and Producer he actually studied music production at the Banff Art Centre. Each year he goes back as a mentor just for the “Indie Residency.”

I remember Shawn and Kevin coming into our studio on one of the first days and asking us to play them a song. It was the song “For Friends” I believe. After we finished Shawn looked at Kevin and was like, “These guys are good!” and Kevin responded “Yeah I told you.” It was at that point that I knew we were in for something awesome.

As our time at the Banff Centre was coming to a close we talked with Shawn about coming out to LA and recording with him. He was very excited and also very generous with his time. Shawn is one of the best people I have ever met. He is a genius and very successful yet he is still humble. Truly a salt of the earth guy.

How important was their influence for the sound you’ve developed?

Both Shawn and Kevin were big influences on us. Kevin was more of a wise big brother figure who offered sage advice. One thing he said to me that always stuck was that there is a difference between singing technically well and singing emotionally well.

People connect to the emotion and feeling of a singer not so much the technical proficiency. He would play us bands he thought we would like or that might inspire us.

Shawn probably made the largest sonic impact on us as a band. We showed up in Los Angeles with a bunch of songs. We spent a few months locked in our garage rehearsal space in Toronto writing so by the time we reached LA there was a bunch of music to sort through. The interesting thing about working with Shawn is that he doesn’t really change your songs structurally (or at least with us he didn’t).

Many producers get involved with arranging and restructuring the artists songs. This is common practice and can be quite necessary. Shawn didn’t restructure the songs, instead he brought this sonic X-factor to them. With him at the helm we were able to really travel into amazingly experimental and interesting territory.

IT was as though we were all working to kind of carve out what FUTURE PEERS was and sounded like. Because it was a new project we were able to go down any path that peaked our interest. There was no preconceived notion of what any given song should sound like. It was a very liberating experience.

We had never played the songs live before recording them and when we were finished it took a while to actually do the songs justice live. It was a bit of a reverse engineering because most of the time you play the songs live a bunch and then go into the studio. For us it was the first time we were doing it the other way around.

As I first heard your single Craft I was absolutely blown away, calling it one of the songs of the year. What is this song about?

First of all thanks so much for your vote of confidence! When I read that you thought it could be a song of the year for you I was very touched.

Creating art is my compulsion.

Craft is about the invisible line that exists. On one side is creation and on the other is stagnation. In theory it is very easy to stop creating art. You just simply stop. You put down you instrument and walk away. It seems easy but it is impossible for me. Music is my Prozac. Creating art is my compulsion.

So Craft is about that struggle between knowing that maybe things would be easier if I let music go and also knowing that it is the only thing that fulfills me.

What are your feelings about your debut record days before its release date? Nervous, proud, anxious?

I am so happy to be releasing this record. The fact that it is being put out on Vinyl is even more exciting for me. I have never had a record pressed on Vinyl in all my years and this is something I will cherish. This album represents the birth of a new project and the growth of all of us as individuals and as a band.

On services like Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL or Soundcloud (just to name a few) you can listen to millions of songs. What’s your view on the modern music business?

The way music is consumed, commoditized and traded today is destroying independent artists and even many record companies. Hyper availability has driven content demand up while diminishing the artist’s validity and footing with their listeners.

This expatiated consumption of singles and one-offs has virtually squashed the concept of an album as a curated body of work unless you are in the top percentage of the one percent of artists who “make it”.  Even once you’re at the top fame costs a pretty penny to maintain.

NPR reported a very interesting piece, which estimated that, Rihanna’s team spends almost $1.1 Million on creating a single hit song for her. It should be said that about $80,000 is spent on the actual song and $1,000,000 is spent on the promotion and marketing. Money begets money and almost all fame is paid for along the way.

It is not news that musicians are being cheated out of money. This has been the case for most of recorded time but now that music is so easy to attain for mere pennies or for free the labels aren’t making the same profits either.

Future Peers
Future Peers

They have less to skim off the top which means artists aren’t even getting the chance to be fucked over by a label anymore. It is common place now for a record label to encourage artists they are interested in signing to produce their first album on their own with the implication that they will buy it from them once it is done.

In times past you would at least get an advance so you could pay for the production of the record and then be forced to pay back a huge sum of money thus enslaving you to a corporation who then could manipulate your creative course in order to reflect maximum profitability for their gain.

Many artists would jump at the chance to be imprisoned in a shitty deal like that but now no one other than the most major labels and artists are truly making any money anymore so labels are not throwing money around at development or fostering new projects as they once did.

Let me break it down for you. A typical deal offers a 17% cut to the artist or band that creates the work. This is recoupable after expenses, which means that there is rarely a time when you see any actual money.

If a music appreciator buys an album from Itunes for $10, 40% goes to Apple. The remaining $6 goes to your label of which we receive 17%. So from each record sold the artist gets $1.

This doesn’t even take into account that people rarely buy full albums any more. If we use the same math off of a $0.99 song the artist gets $0.10. Clearly the only way you are going to make anything that comes close to an honest sum of money off of this is if you sell 500,000 – 1,000,000 songs.

Even then you are only clearing $50,000 – $100,000 which gets rationed out to band members, managers, publicists, sound guys, production assistance etc.

Here’s where the stories we tell ourselves come into play. I’m sure you use music streaming sites and many of you feel good because that music-streaming site claims to pay the artists. Well that much is true, they do pay artists.

I have been paid out for my song streams in the past. Last time I cashed in I got about $1400. Sounds pretty nice until you realise that these sites are paying you between $0.009 and $0.0005 per stream. If we average my streams at $0.006 per play that means that my songs had to play 233,333 for me to make $1400.

All the while the listener is following the storyline that they are doing their part and paying good coin for the music. I do my part and enact the storyline of the devil-may-care musician who is living the good life and fulfilling every cubicle dwellers fantasy.

I bumped into a very nice fellow I knew in university a few weeks ago at a pub. He told me that he’s been following my career via the Internet and that he was so pleased to see that I had “really made it”. I didn’t have the heart to inform him that I would be paying for my chicken wings and India pale ale through the grace of the over draft protection afforded to me by TD Bank.

I didn’t want to upset the script we are all following so instead I thanked him for his well wishes and regaled him with a picante story about my recent recording sessions in Los Angeles.

I don’t pretend to have the solution to these problems but I can tell you one thing. The less I let these things anger me the more resilient my joy of music becomes. I spent years letting this stuff break me down but I’m not going to let this minutia be my glass jaw.

In my new band we created scarcity by limiting any online presence to either streaming from our site only or physical cassette tapes that come with exclusive digital downloads. This has worked on a local and community level because people buy the music at shows and purchase stuff off of our site.

The downside is that it has made us virtually invisible to the Internet market which, let’s face it, is the largest and most valuable arena. Having limited our scope and focused on the more peer to peer level I really do feel that we have re-injected some of the magic that used to be palpable.

Remember when you had a band you loved and went to see them play, bought their music out of their very hands and enjoyed a connection? That actually made us feel warm and fuzzy right?

Maybe I’m feeling the Bern but if we all decided to change the way we handled and consumed music we just might be able to change the course of this kamikaze schooner we call the music industry.

Here are the main things I think will help nudge us in the right direction. Go to live shows! Musicians have to slug it out for years and years before you have even heard of them. Your favourite overnight success has likely been traversing the music landscape for around 10 years.

This is not an exaggeration. I know bands that were stinking up my couch and living out of their van 10 years ago who are only just now playing Jimmy Fallen or Jules Holland. So please go see shows at cool venues and support your music community.

Beyonce is amazing but she won’t miss you at her show. You know who will?

The band that is trying to get ahead and playing that small club in your city, they will actually see you and appreciate your presence. Hell, very likely they would love to hang out with you after the show. You can find them at their merch table.

Which brings me to my second key commandment; buy physical merchandise from bands. This is one way that the band actually makes profit. Buying music and clothes from bands on tour is the best way to know that the money is going in their pocket or gas tank or belly.

If you stream music that is cool, so do I. It is a modern age and streams aren’t just for forests anymore. Promise me something though, if you hear a song that you like while you are streaming go out and buy it. Try to buy a physical copy or go directly to the artists website, label page or Bandcamp.

This is, at the very least, saving 40% of gouge to the creators of the work. Finally, and I know I’m gonna sound like a narc or your dad or something but please stop stealing music. If a band wants you to have the music for free they will offer it to you for free.

At this rate the entire music system is going to implode like Detroit because you couldn’t spend $0.99. That’s less then a really shitty cup of coffee.

What are your goals in the near future concerning your music?

We are doing a small Canadian tour surrounding the release of the record and we are eager to play as much as possible in the New Year. A big goal is to come to Europe and play for all of you.

Maybe you can help us out with that??? We have begun recording on new material and we are very excited to be developing that as well.

On election day you wrote on Facebook: “Let’s keep our focus on fighting the good fight and not let this shit defeat us.” How do you think we can keep on fighting the good fight?

Things are so fucked up right now in so many parts of the world. Like most forward thinking people, the US Election dumbfounded me. I think it enforces that we need to think clearly and act honestly.

Individuals and communities can and do incite change. Not just in politics but in art as well. Be open, be compassionate, listen to people, share ideas and create.

Future Peers erscheint am 9. Dezember 2016

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