INTERVIEW: The Folks Around Town

The Folks Around Town is an indie pop duo from Ottawa, Canada. The duo just released the lyric video for their song “A.Y.S.” and it will be featured on the band’s upcoming new album Basement Years. We recently sat down with them for about their latest track, the band’s new sound direction and their upcoming new album. Check it out!

Congrats on the first single on your new album! The song is called “AYS.” Why did you decide to go with the initials instead of “are you sad?”

Thanks so much. It’s been so exciting finally being able to start sharing this music with people. We’ve worked so hard on it and it’s great to see it finally seeing the light of day. To be honest, the song was originally called “Abigail” but in the track listing, it follows another song, Grace – which is also a name. It just kind of felt a bit silly to us. Then we thought we’d take the lazy way out and just name it after the second part of the hook, which is “Are You Sad?” but that didn’t look great on paper. We went with A.Y.S purely for aesthetic reasons. We’re both so bad about song titles – usually they’re just joke titles or the date the song was started until the very last minute when we have to actually submit it. Naming songs sucks!

The song features Ciana Van Dusen. How did that come about?

Ciana is a really good friend of mine. We meet through a mutual friend at a party and when I showed her our EP Gracefield, Qc early on in our friendship, she sent me a phone recording of her harmonizing to Fragile Bird. I was totally blown away. Her voice is amazing and I think it works really well with mine. While recording this album, Basement Years, we asked her if she’d be willing to sing on a song and she was thrilled to! In fact, she appears on the second single as well. It seems like she is the guest hit-maker for us! We’re so lucky to have so many talented friends, and I’m thankful some of them were able to contribute to this record. It really wouldn’t have been as good of a record without them.

This track blends acoustic and electro really well. Is this something you’ve always done or is this new sonic territory for you?

The electronic stuff is really new for me and the band, and we’ve only really started incorporating it over the past couple of years. I grew up with a very narrow-minded scope of music. I was a pop punk/punk rock kid and didn’t want to listen to anything different or play anything that wasn’t loud, fast and filled with distorted guitars. Someone turned me onto bands like Death Cab and The National at the start of my university experience and that’s when it all began to change for me. I became really interested in learning how they achieved their sounds and wrote their songs. “You don’t have to yell at the top of your lungs to write a good song?!” was the realization I had. When I first heard 22, A Million by Bon Iver – I think my brain exploded. I was so confused and intrigued by how that record was put together. I researched all the tools they used and eventually found out that Justin Vernon, the singer from the band, was using this synth called the OP-1 by teenage engineering. I saved up some money and found a used one online. After I started playing with the OP-1 there was no turning back.

You mention someone by name in the song. Is this a real person? If so, do they know about the song and what was their reaction?

AYS, and the character Abigail, is based on a real person. I’ve changed the name because, you know, it isn’t the nicest song to have written about you.  It’s weird writing about people in your life because you want to be honest about your thoughts and feelings and write from a real place, but at the same time, it involves someone else as well. There are a couple songs where I mention my mom, and every time one of those songs plays around her, I sink in my seat a little bit. It’s so awkward!

The band’s latest album Basement Years is due out on January 28th. For the lyric video of their latest single “A.Y.S.,” check it out below.

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