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Photo by Nicole Wolfe at Canadian Beats.

Moist keyboardist Kevin Young talks remote recording, new album ahead of CityFolk show

By Stephane Dubord on September 17, 2021

As part of our ongoing coverage of the CityFolk festival this month, Apt613 chatted with Kevin Young, keyboardist and founding member of Friday co-headliners Moist, to catch up on what the band has been up to since we last spoke in November 2019.

At that time, the band was wrapping up the 25th-anniversary tour of their debut album Silver, and was gearing up to head into the studio to work on new material. Then the pandemic hit, and everything came to a screeching halt for the band. They’ve since regrouped (at least virtually) to continue that process and released three new singles, leading up to an eventual full-length album. And if the quality of these singles is any indication, Moist is still very much alive and well. Given their energetic performances, CityFolk should be in for a memorable show as they unleash almost two years of pent-up energy Friday night.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Apt613: Last we spoke, Moist was about to start working on new material. Then, the world got upended. How have you guys adapted?

Kevin Young: We were literally in the studio when the pandemic was declared. We had gathered in Toronto to work on the album that is still upcoming and from which some songs have been released at this point.

Like many people in the industry, we all went home, we quarantined, and figured we’ll be through this in like two weeks, three weeks, a month, two months. Anyway, it became clear very quickly that it was going to take a lot more time.

So we recorded the remainder of the record. Although a lot of it was taped live off the floor in Revolution Studios in Toronto, a lot of the overdubs were done in individual homes and home studios, which is a really strange way for us to make a record. We’ve done a lot of remote work individually and together in the past and shared ideas back and forth, but the band has always thrived in rehearsals and on stage and in the studio on the kind of back and forth that we have. I never thought that I would miss arguing with guitar players about the construction of a chord.

It’s a very different situation because you don’t have the energy that you get from feeding off each other … but it was a really interesting process. I’ll do the general “musician thing” and say we’re quite proud of the album. But we really are. But I don’t know if it’s the kind of recording process I really want to undertake again.

You guys have always had a very organic sound, and you get that sense through the recording and then live on stage. It just comes through loud and clear. And I was wondering how that recording process impacted that.

On the one hand, it allowed us individually to go down some rabbit holes as players that we may not have gone down in the same way in the studio, which I think benefited the album in some ways. Mark [Makoway, the band’s guitarist, who is also producing the new album] had a very clear vision of what he wanted us to accomplish with this. He wanted to make it a bit more like our older recordings along the lines of Creature and Silver, where it was very much just us as a band in a room playing music. So we didn’t go to town on overdubs and adding things that seemed superfluous. I think that helped with that vision and Mark’s approach to production, which is very methodical and clear-headed, and I think that preserved some of that organic feel.

I wouldn’t call it a throwback because it’s evolved, but there’s a Silver/Creature feel to “Tarantino,” while “End of the Ocean” has a little more layering to it.

“End of the Ocean” is an interesting song because our earlier concept of it had a bit more going on off the top of the song. And Mark basically sent a mix around saying he had this idea and had retooled it, and gave it that slow build. We’re coming in, we’re adding layers, the piano doesn’t come in until I think the second verse or something like that, it’s layered over the course of time. I remember I listened to it and called Mark and told him I love it, but I only have one complaint, and I could hear in his voice a pause. I said “I love what you’ve done with it; I only wish it was longer!” because I was so enthusiastic about what he’d done in terms of that layering and how he’d approached it, taking it back to a kind of “Leave it Alone” feel for us, where things come in slowly and deliberately and add to the picture over the course of the song.

I’m looking forward to hearing the full album. Are there any release dates yet?

We had potentially been looking at later this fall, but that’s still a moving target at the moment. We’ve been steadily releasing singles from the album, three songs from it now and three different videos, and we’re looking forward to releasing it. I would just say it’s coming!

So a new album is ready to go, and Creature just happens to be celebrating its 25th anniversary as well. Any plans for a tour to commemorate that milestone?

Isn’t that a good question? We’ve definitely discussed it. We did have a boatload of fun doing the Silver tour. At this point, there are no firm plans. We’ll see what’s going to happen over the next little while. We’re doing this gig, then we may or may not have more shows coming up. But I think we have to get a little farther along to see what’s going to be next in terms of whether we’ll do a 25th-anniversary tour of Creature.

I mean, personally, I think it would be a lot of fun to do, but we also have this new record that we want to get out there as well. So I don’t know what we’re going to do, but the fact that there are a lot of possibilities excites me.