The next big Canadian alt-rock group Arcane Ghosts, just dropped their mental-stimulating EP, Distant Youth, and in my review, I explain why it’s one of the best alt-rock releases this year so far.
Recorded during COVID lockdown, the alt-rockers had a lot to say about the EP’s writing process, what Distant Youth means to them, and a little industry talk as they recently gave me a chance to ask them a few questions which has become one of my favorite interviews thus far.
Firstly, let me say that your new EP, Distant Youth, is crazy good. I haven’t stopped listening all week. So, with that, what went into making such a high-energy and dynamic release?
Thank you so much! The process for this release involved a lot more trial and error with writing specific parts, as well as taking the time to make sure the vocal parts and riffs were as strong as they could possibly be. A lot of this EP was written during the start of COVID-19 lockdowns, which forced us to change how we write our music. Instead of being in a jam space, we had to try writing through an online call, and when that didn’t work, we started meeting up at someone’s house (taking all proper precautions) and did writing there.
Continuing, the soundscape featured throughout Distant Youth is fresh and unique. What were your inspirations for the EP’s overall sound?
There was still a lot of influences from the past work of Arcane Ghosts that were still present on this EP, such as Dance Gavin Dance and other post-hardcore groups, but we added on some indie/alt-rock influence like Bloc Party and continued to build on a general pop influence for the vocals to really solidify the “catch” factor.
Of the five tracks featured on Distant Youth, I have to say that “Paralyzed” is my favorite. It grabbed my attention instantly, and I’ll admit to having it on repeat quite a few times. So, I have to know, of these five tracks, which would you consider your overall favorite?
I personally love “Rollercoaster” the best. When Jason first showed us the riff (in the song’s opening seconds), it was love at first listen for me, and I (Steven) knew it would be a hit. I remember telling everyone, “we need to stop what we’re writing and focus on this… this is a hit. This needs to be a song…” Sure enough, our producer Anton DeLost saw its potential, and it became a song!
On that same note, a lot of the lyrics presented across the EP are pretty emotional and should quickly find an attachment among new and old listeners. So, I’m wondering, what string of lyrics is your favorite that you believe stands out the most or connects with you the most?
A lyric that always repeats in my own daily life is the lyric from our song “Paralyzed,” which is “Kerosene to my dreams.” With that line, I was referring to burning down nightmares that haunt your dreams, and that’s something I relate to personally. So much goes on in one day that our minds never stop thinking about all the grief, hate, or love that we experience in a lifetime.
This lyric hits home for me, especially after losing my grandmother last year. It really hit my family in a sore spot since she was such a rock and made the family always come together no matter the distance. Losing her and having to work the next day was straining on my mental health and honestly made me want to quit my 9-to-5 job because that’s how much stress I felt.
Suppression is a crazy thing, and burning the reoccurring dreams was the only way to keep things separate between my personal and my work life. It was a crazy roller coaster last year, but I coped by creating the song that is “Paralyzed”—definitely, a must-listen, in my opinion.
From an emotional standpoint making an EP like Distant Youth would require quite a bit of inner exploration. But you guys did create this concept during COVID lockdown; what was that experience like? And how does it feel to have these songs out in the fresh air finally?
As we all know, COVID-19 was such a crazy time for not just Toronto but for the whole world. There were so many emotions inside me at the time ranging from anger to sadness to even complete confusion at times. All these different emotions culminated into what Distant Youth was written about.
With this release, we decided to change our release strategy and follow one more suited to a hip-hop artist or new wave trap artist, which is the quality over quantity approach. It’s worked out well so far. We’ve been receiving great praise for the singles we’ve dropped already, and it feels amazing to know the fans/listeners are enjoying the songs.
Leaning on the previous question a bit, when it comes to Distant Youth and your past releases, how would you compare them? Aside from COVID lockdown, did you change anything in your process? Or was it still a familiar space?
During the writing process for Distant Youth, we took a different approach to writing than with our previous release Human Interference. Initially, Jason would come up with, give or take, 75% of the song completed, and Steven and our former drummer Eric would add their parts after the fact.
However, with all the songs of Distant Youth, we also tried sitting in a quiet room all together, away from loud instruments, and starting with an entirely new idea from scratch. This contributes to why these are the best songs we’ve ever written. The dynamics of everyone’s input going into each individual song has made this EP much stronger than any of our previous releases.
Alright, random industry question to mix up the bottom half. Many artists nowadays have been following a release model where some believe full-length albums are a thing of the past and have since jumped on the barrage of singles approach with great success. What do you think? Should full-length albums be shown the door? Or do you believe they still have a purpose?
In simple terms, I don’t think full albums should be shown the door, and I feel they still have a place in today’s music industry. However, in my opinion, you need to be an artist with a certain level of popularity for an album to be a worthwhile investment. Local bands absolutely should not make full-length albums because the amount of money spent on recording a professional quality album just to have casual listeners skip over most tracks and only check out the singles is not ideal.
Additionally, sacrificing recording quality to save money is also not ideal. A band with a larger following would have a reasonable amount of die-hard fans that would not only listen to the whole album but also listen to it on repeat and drive the streaming number up. Since local bands don’t have that luxury, taking a quality-over-quantity approach and putting all of one’s effort into singles is much more practical.
That being said, Arcane Ghosts would love to make a full-length album someday, but unfortunately, since we’re still an insignificant local band, it’s too early for us to record and release one. We can start having that conversation if we ever get signed to an established label that can front us the money.
Before I hit you with the final question, let me express my thanks for taking the time and answering my questions. Distant Youth is a fantastic EP, and I’m looking forward to what’s next—with that said, what is next for Arcane Ghosts? A dominating world tour? The complete musical takeover of Canada? Inquiring minds would love to know.
Of course, it was our pleasure! Right now, we’re just focusing on shows, shows, and more shows in our area. Lots of writing of new music too, and finding ways to stay relevant on social media through consistent content creation. Haha, no world tours or musical takeover of Canada yet, but we’re one day hoping we can get there.
To whoever is reading, tell all of your friends about us and don’t stop bothering them if you really believe in our music. The more you do that, the more likely we can do a world tour and musically take over as many places as possible. Thanks for reading!
Arcane Ghosts’ latest EP, Distant Youth, is a must-listen release! These Canadian alt-rockers are a force that can’t be stopped, and it’s a matter of when not if they’ll become the next big alt-rockers performing across the globe.
If you want to keep Distant Youth on constant replay like me, give the new EP a spin on Spotify & Apple Music.
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