With their third album release, Zebratronic, making its way through the Toronto independent music scene, Raz Mataz wanted to get an inside look at the history and the process the members take. Mike Daugherty and Marie Reynolds spoke with us about their journey and how they took a passion and expanded on it. Without further ado, let’s meet the band:
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): When did you start playing music and what drew you to this art in the first place?
Mikie Daugherty: I started playing nearly 20 years ago; thinking about it, it’ll be the anniversary at the beginning of next month. Sadly, I don’t recall the exact date. I’d started getting more and more into listening to music, but the idea of actually playing had never occurred to me – it seemed like some kind of almost magical art that you couldn’t just learn to do. I was given an electric guitar and encouraged to try, though, and pretty much instantly I was hooked.
Marie Reynolds: I first sang over 20 years ago when I was heavily pregnant, my husband was recording an album with a friend and I liked one of the tracks and asked if I could sing on it too, had no idea if I could actually sing but was getting fed up with sitting downstairs on my own while all this fun was going on in our spare room (that sounds dubious, doesn’t it?!). Turns out I could sing. Didn’t do anything else for a few years and then sang back up in a band and co-fronted another – Weirdo – before writing a few songs with Stoliday and then going on to form Postcode.
RMM: What inspires the content of your music?
Mikie: Honestly, it’s hard to say. The things I write tend to come to me almost by accident. I’ve often wondered where something came from, or why I played a certain way, because it doesn’t feel like something I would normally do. I suppose really it’s a case of stumbling upon something – a chord sequence, a riff, a sound, etc. – that interests me, moves me in some way, and then working from there. Really the song dictates how you play, it’s almost like it tells you where you should be going. In some ways you could say I’m inspired by what I don’t want to do as well. By avoiding certain things then I’m steered in different directions, musically speaking.
RMM: Your music has a lot of different experimental mixes; what kind of stylistic mix do you prefer?
Mikie: I like noise and I like melody, I like beauty and I like discordance, so I guess you could say I like contrast. I’m not sure I have an overall preference, as I like different styles for different reasons, but I do like songs that gradually build, from very soft to big and noisy. If the music seems experimental it’s probably partly down to the fact that I often reject ideas that seem a little too traditional or “normal”. As an artist I’m always trying to do something new, even if it’s only new to me.
Marie: I like everything. That’s a lie. Don’t like jazz. Unless I’m watching Earthworm Jim.
RMM: What bands have influenced you in terms of tune and style?
Mikie: I try not to obviously copy anyone else when writing and making music, but there are definitely some bands that have changed the way I perceive music. Bands like Pixies, Mogwai, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Six.By Seven, My Bloody Valentine, Low, and others too I’m sure, have helped to shape who I am as a musician, but I’d like to think that I have my own sonic personality too. I’m a big fan of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and though that probably hasn’t manifested itself too much in our sound, it certainly inspires my stage attire.
Marie: This is a toughie. We’ve been compared to bands that I like but as Mikie has historically written most of the music, I guess that’s come through him really.
RMM: The lyrics struck me as the strongest suit of your band; what inspires them?
Marie: Thank you! All sorts of things, sometimes it’s a TV show I’ve watched (Dollhouse specifically, if a lot of the lyrics on Zebratronic are anything to go by), a line I might have read in a book or things that have happened to me or other people. The usual, really. Some songs are mash-ups of lines I’ve written over the years that I might not do anything with, like a verse that gets written and I can’t think of a chorus and then when I’m looking back in my books I’ll find it will work with something else even though at the time of writing I’d think I’d never get a song out of it. I think I’ve got a few songs about not being able to write songs, too, but no one is getting to hear them, they’re a bit what on earth were you thinking. I’ve kept them to remind me not to write like that. Sometimes Mikie will be noodling on the guitar and I’ll write lyrics as he’s playing, too; in fact, most of Zebratronic was written specifically to the music, a lot of the tracks were pretty much complete before I wrote anything. I waffle a lot, don’t I?
RMM: Do you prefer writing stronger, faster songs or slower, more lullaby-like tunes? Why?
Mikie: Again, it’s kind of hard to choose. In fact, I’ve always liked a degree of variety in music, especially the music that I create, so to say that I value one type of song over another would not be entirely accurate. In general, I suppose you could say that I’m inclined to rock and drawn to fuzz and noise, in my own music as well as other people’s. At the same time, the songs that I tend to connect with more are often the slower ones.
Marie: It usually depends what kind of mood I’m in or the music I’m listening to at the time. I don’t write or play music and usually the vocal lines come when the band has written the music, but sometimes I’ll have an idea of how I’d like a song to sound, so will ask Mikie to write in a particular way. I’ve also been known to shout random chords out and parts of the songs have been written around them. I know G and C and can just about play them. Maybe I’ll write my own album one day…
For more on Postcode, visit their Facebook page.