Copycat, the 13-piece orchestral dance rock band from Toronto, recently released their new EP The Grass is Greener. (You can buy it here. http://bandcopycat.bandcamp.com/) I recently had a chance to interview the founder and songwriter for Copycat, James Atin-Godden. Here’s what he had to say:
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): When and how did Copycat form?
James Atin-Godden (JAG):I had written all these songs while in a sort of isolation in the small town where I grew up. They had all of these layers, and they were huge songs, huge in concept and in scope. I always thought it would be fun to form a humungous band anyway, but now I actually had original content we could all play! Vennie, Aniqa, Mike, and Daver were interested right from the get-go. The others I had to track down, but all of them are students at York University. Mostly everybody agreed to join right after I showed them the music. All of a sudden there were eleven of us!
RMM: What bands or artists do you draw inspiration from?
JAG: Any pop artist who is called ‘experimental’. The indie scene is fantastic right now because you have all these artists who are interested in really exploiting the infinite resources that are available to them. There are TONS of these artists out there, but some famous examples are Grizzly Bear, St Vincent, Janelle Monae, and Joanna Newsom. These are all artists that really explore their medium, either through orchestration, freaky rhythms, or interesting melodies. But it’s still all catchy! It’s pop music but the words are great and the music isn’t formulaic; there’s so much freedom in that! As a stage man and lyricist though, I draw inspiration from some specific influences, mainly: Thom Yorke, Tom Waits, and David Byrne.
RMM: How would you describe your style/sound?
JAG: When I started the band I wanted it to be a lot more folky than it became. I imagined a sort of heavy baroque thing. But then Ben and Mike started using all sorts of pedals and the sound became more surreal and electric. The style is founded on my absolute inability to pick a genre. I find myself falling in love with certain songs or artists or styles and wanting to emulate them, deciding that “this is the kind of music I love best.” I’ll get really into 50s showtune pop music for a while, and then I’ll really like noise rock, etc. This is the 21st century, so whatever, might as well combine it all together and see what works.
RMM: I last saw you guys perform in January at the Opera House; how have you changed since then?
JAG: We’re a lot better. We have new drummer, and a wicked clarinetist now. I’ve consciously tried to simplify the structure of my songs. So there’s some catchier stuff, some funkier stuff, some progier stuff, some folkier stuff . . . . It’s just as weird and unclassifiable but I’m always trying to find the middle ground where the audience actually understands what I’m going for. The thing about being a music student is you lose a sense of what’s weirdly accessible and what’s just plain weird.
RMM: What are your hopes for the near future?
JAG: Mostly to make a lot more people aware of us. I have this grandiose plan to do a ‘video album’, basically a youtube playlist of hi-fi live-off-the-floor videos (like our monster one) with a team of dancers, choreographers, video artists, and whoever else wants to get involved. It’d just be a free-for-all of anybody who wants to collaborate with us. I plan to do this in the middle of the year once I get it all organized. It’d just be a really satisfying vault of content, once somebody stumbles on one video, they can easily just keep going with the playlist. I think artists have to try out some new strategies these days; it’s tough to sell albums and it’s tough to get people out to shows. So I’m going to storm the internet with content, and we’ll see where that takes us.
For more Copycat: