Singer-songwriters Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis met in Toronto and formed the band in 2012 with guitarist Ian Docherty, bassist Josh Warburton, and drummer Danny Miles. They released a self-titled debut album that same year and skyrocketed to public attention more quickly than they ever expected, grabbing people’s attention with their explosive live shows and the standout contrast of these two singers’ voices, compellingly raspy and enticing on each and every track.
Apt613 spoke with Fay and Dreimanis by telephone about Touch and how the experience touring their first album influenced some of their new songs, which you can listen to on the band’s Soundcloud page.
“I think Touch is a lot more of a complete statement, ‘cause we had the time to make it right and make it exactly what we wanted it to be,” Dreimanis said.
Although there can be a lot of pressure to follow up debut albums, Fay said that the first album wasn’t a big part of their consideration when they were writing the songs for Touch.
“The [second] album was just so influenced by the five of us and our experiences over the past five years, and therefore it kind of had to be completely different than the first album,” Fay said.
“Obviously, the thing that will always keep the music identifiable is the two voices and certain aspects of the instrumentation and the guys’ styles and the way they play their instruments, but in terms of sticking to a genre or defining a sound I think that’s hard to do.”
“Lots happened in the last five years, just in terms of how far we’ve come.”
Since the release of their first album and the success that came with it, so much of their lives have been spent on tour. Inevitably, that lifestyle influenced the direction of their song-writing, Dreimanis explained.
“Nothing really happened in our lives (between the first and second album) other than travelling the world together in a van,” he said. “I’m not trying to downplay the significance of that – that was our entire lives being turned upside down and none of us seeing our families for a few years and not really seeing our home of Toronto for a few years, or Canada.
“It was really intense, and I think the feeling of being five people… in a van, hurtling through a foreign area night and day, probably allowed us to view the world in a different way and probably only served to put human connection and touch on a higher pedestal… You really, really understand its value when you’re just sort of lost in the midst of a rock and roll tour instead of being able to look into the whites of the eyes of those you love back home.”
The second album also ended up reflecting a lot of the change in their lives that they’d gone through together, Fay explained.
“Lots happened in the last five years, just in terms of how far we’ve come,” she said. “I think, content-wise, we couldn’t have made this album in any year other than 2016.”
Although they were more familiar with each other and their processes when they started writing the second album, it didn’t necessarily make it easier.
“The general thing that we’ve learned is there’s no method, there’s no process that’s repeatable” Dreimanis said.
“Each song is going to be written in a completely different way, and as soon as you accept that almost – not nihilistic view, but that idea that there is no one right way to write a song, it actually takes a lot of weight off your shoulders.”
The title track “Touch” is the last song on the album. Fay explained why they decided to name the album after that song in particular.
“It’s a nice idea of… putting touch on a pedestal, and putting human connection on a pedestal,” she said. “We always talk about spontaneity and humanness and honesty, and the act of two humans touching each other is something that is inimitable by any form of technology. It’s indescribable.
“I think there was a feeling when we approached the second record that we wanted to analyze what our shows were like, what was special about July Talk, what made July Talk July Talk,” Dreimanis added.
“I think all of those words like ‘vulnerability’ and ‘humanness’ and ‘sweat’ and ‘skin’ and ‘eye contact’ and all of these things that felt very human came to mind. And I think the epitome or the one word that settled between all of that felt like it was ‘touch.’”
July Talk will play at the Algonquin Commons Theatre (1385 Woodroffe Ave) on Monday October 31 at 8pm. Tickets are $20 for Algonquin College students or $27.50 for the general public and are available online at www.ticketmaster.ca or at the venue box office.