Redrick Sultan is the musical collaboration of three young men in Vancouver: guitarist Spencer Hargreaves, keys and flute man Noah Jordan, and tune-sampler Sean Mitchell. The EP, released in 2014, was commended by Raz Mataz for its distinct style (that wasn’t afraid to stray off the beaten path) and for the intertwining vocals of Hargreaves and Jordan. In this back-and-forth, the band talks music, management, and superheroes.
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): What is it like being a young artist growing up in Vancouver? Has the Vancouver music scene influenced you guys?
Redrick Sultan (RS): Spencer and Noah grew up in Port Coquitlam, a small suburb about 30 kilometres east of Vancouver. The music scene was thriving among high school-aged folks when we were there. Terry Fox Secondary, the school we attended, has classes called ‘Rock School’ and ‘Recording Arts’, which are run by a fine blues guitarist, Steve Sainas. This was our first chance to perform original tunes to an audience and to have control over the recording process. Both were very encouraging and enjoyable experiences. A great aspect of these classes was that everyone who had an interest in any kind of non-classical music knew where to meet up, so everyone knew everyone. This made for an excellent and supportive environment to make music in, and I’m increasingly grateful to Steve with every passing year.
In Vancouver, we’ve enjoyed local acts a great deal, drawing a lot of inspiration from artists such as Spring, Psychic Alliance, Quit the City, Man Your Horse and Astrological . Spring used to be called The SSRIs and they truly blew my mind, first hearing them was one of those moments when I heard something I’d never imagined hearing before. Quit the City brought some weird chord progressions to our ears. Psychic Alliance throw wicked house shows all the time and inspire with their boundless energy and huge repertoire of original material and imagination. Man Your Horse is one of the first bands we played with in Vancouver; they inspire with their wicked jams and Julian’s epic guitar sounds. Astrological is a beat maker who our drummer, Sean, plays in a band called Claire Mortifee and the Mothership. They are amazing. Astrological pushes the limits.
RS: Noah and Spencer met in grade school. Began playing together shortly after becoming friends. We met Sean at Capilano College in Vancouver, where we all studied jazz. Immediately after starting to play with Sean, we went on a month tour of the USA. At the time there were two other friends in the band as well, however, after time we found the workflow wasn’t flowing too well, so we widdled down to a three-piece. We really gelled on our last tour of the States, which took place from February to April 2014. Leaving for a ten-week tour with only one rehearsal before hand and a handful of half-written songs made for an interesting tour. We hashed out a lot of details in the van. We’re lucky the three of us have congenial personalities and senses of humour. Especially the latter.
RMM: How did you come up with the name Redrick Sultan?
RS: There was a giant at our high school with a flaming red mane, his name was Redrick. He ran the school’s politics club so we thought he was a sultan. You could say we’re… chasing the mane.
RMM: What is the musical process that the band goes through?
RS: Noah or Spencer usually have a song that’s mostly or totally complete with some kind of form and a set of lyrics/melody. Then we’ll jam it a bunch and experiment with ideas. Sean often brings great ideas regarding form and melody, or a specific bass line he wants to hear. On tour we really got specific with each other and what we wanted to hear from one another. That was a great learning experience, a lot of the songs took shape there. In the studio we record the guitar, bass and drums live together, then experiment with various layers of overdubbing. With the song “Batman Jesus”, it all fell into shape once we got the girls on the track. We had an idea of what we wanted but when Skye Wallace improvised over the track it turned into something totally different from what we expected. We love collaborating, and were especially stoked to have Skye, Nikki and Julia on that track. We hope to work with all of them a lot in the future.
RMM: What kind of places has the band performed at? Do you have any favourites or any memorable venues?
RS: All sorts. There was one particular clown venue in Houston that was fairly disturbing. The bartender/soundman asked us for money or beer. Some favourites have been the 420 Art Gallery Festivals in Vancouver, we’ve played there the last two years.
RMM: What sets this EP apart from other works the band has done?
RS: With ‘Batman Jesus’, we came into the studio with a relatively clear idea of how we wanted the bed tracks to sound. We had workshopped and performed the song many, many times on tour so we’d sort of worked out the kinks. When recording the EP, we weren’t sure of the arrangements or how we wanted the tracks to feel. So on the EP we ended up slaving over overdubs a lot. We haven’t done that with our new tracks, so it feels fresher to us, which we think will translate into the overall vibe of the finished product.
RS: Staying awake. That and organizing all the folks involved. At the time of finishing ‘Batman Jesus’, we were mixing the song, editing the video, and putting up posters around town seven days/nights a week. And working for money. It was a very exhausting two months. We weren’t sure we’d be able to get all the singers and actors in the song and video we wanted, but miraculously it all came together. We feel very lucky to have worked with the people we did.
RMM: What was the prime inspiration for this EP?
RS: The Adventures of Mr. Toad was a great inspiration for the video. We feel his swashbuckling habits have a certain relevance to these modern times. The song was unknowingly inspired by Lou Reed and knowingly by superheroes such as Batman, Jesus, and the Lorax.
RMM: How would you describe the feeling and style of your music to people who have yet to hear your music?
RS: That feeling after you steal a car, but you are Mr. Toad so it’s morally acceptable to some, if socially irresponsible to most.
RMM: What can fans expect in the future from you guys?
RS: Free trips to the moon with the purchase of our LP, and an LP in 2015, which will have sparkles somewhere on the packaging, or at least in one of the musics.