White Poppy is the solo project of Crystal Dorval, a British Columbia bedroom recorder who makes what she calls “experimental & therapeutic pop.” Recently, she packed up some of her amniotic compositions and boated it over to the town of Ladysmith, on Vancouver Island, where she mixed and mastered the project’s debut, self-titled full-length at The Noise Floor Recording Studio. “Darkness Turns To Light” is a warm, enveloping slice of walking-paced dream-pop, layering otherworldly vocals and processed guitar into a plateau of sound that’s at once ambiguously floaty and elementally precise. Says Dorval of the song, “‘Darkness Turns To Light’ is one of the more psychedelic, world-influenced songs on the album. I thought it would make a good second single after the poppier first single, ‘Wear Me Away,’ because it showcases the eclecticism that can be expected of the whole album.” Did I mention it’s gorgeous? White Poppy is out September 3rd on Not Not Fun.
From the ripped jeans collection of Johnnie Regalado:
This might be one of those rare instances when a band can immediately invoke comparisons to Nirvana and not totally suck. In fact, the parallels are almost a disservice. War Baby lay down grungy jams on Jesus Horse that would make mainstream ’90s commercial radio throwback stations a thousand times more tolerable. Listening to this record on repeat will make your hair grow long and greasy at an alarming rate. This Vancouver-based trifecta of power invoke undeniable levels of thrash. Jon Reddit’s guitar and vocals are hypnotic summonings from a dark cave. Aaron Weiss’ bass lines patch into your spinal cord and induce uncontrollable nods of appreciation. Kirby Fisher caps the sonic assault by smashing the songs into your eardrums. All of this was somehow harnessed at The Noise Floor, home to some of the west coast’s best recordings of the last few years, among which Jesus Horse definitely belongs.
White Poppy, “Darkness Turns To Light”
Hear White Poppy’s Whirlpooling ‘Wear Me Away’
Self-titled debut album arrives in September on Not Not Fun Records
White Poppy, Crystal Dorval’s one-woman show, deals in “experimental therapeutic pop,” another way to describe dreamy, washed out, lovesick stunners. The Vancouver-based tunesmith will issue her self-titled, self-recorded debut album on September 3, but lead single ”Wear Me Away” can be heard below. With its faded-fuzz veneer and angelic vocals, the song makes for a prime introduction. Enjoy.
Recording studio a home-away-from-home for musicians
The wall frames have only just been raised, but by August the Noise Floor Recording Studio will be alive with the thrum of guitars and drums as local B.C. bands craft their albums in the studio’s new digs.
Studio manager Terry Stewart and recording engineer Jordan Koop relocated their studio to Gabriola from Ladysmith at the end of May. Prior to that they operated studios in Vancouver.
The couple had wanted to escape from the city for a while, but when they did three years ago to Ladysmith, it ended up not being the place they wanted to stay permanently They’ve only been on Gabriola for about a month, but already they feel like they’ve found home.
Given the high concentration of artists and musicians on Gabriola, Terry said the island feels like a good fit.
“There’s a lot of amenities for a community of this size,” she added, a major attraction for themselves as well as their clients.
They expect their clients – who are mainly ‘college rock’ bands, indie, folk and punk rock – will feel comfortable on Gabriola and will be able to relax and find some peace so they can focus on their music.
The majority of their clients are from Vancouver with the rest from Vancouver Island.
“Because we connect so much to this community we’re really excited to meet some of the local musicians,” Terry said.
Moving out of the big city was a gamble for Terry and Jordan because they weren’t sure their clients would follow them. Happily, the gamble paid off.
“They love to get out of town,” said Jordan. Some only stay a few days while others spend a couple weeks recording an album. “They get to come out here and see some trees and some stars and some deer.”
He said the main concept behind The Noise Floor is for their clients to be able to fully immerse themselves in making their album and “just be in the zone 100 per cent of the time.”
Terry likens it to a retreat. “It’s very difficult for creative people to flip inspiration on command,” she said. “So if inspiration hits at 3 in the morning, you’re there.”
While not recording, clients can relax in their own room – the place has a “nostalgic summer camp vibe,” Terry said – equipped with two sets of bunk beds.
“A lot of the focus on other studios in B.C. is very equipment-oriented – like here’s what I’ve got and here’s how can I make you sound really good,” explained Jordan. “We have a lot of cool tools as well, but we put more emphasis on the whole experience.”
Added Terry, “If the artist is relaxed and comfortable, they’re going to perform better so rather than putting all of our focus on fancy gear, we’d rather that they … feel comfortable enough to create the album the want to create.
“In the end we’re just capturing their magic.”
Terry and Jordan are doing much of the renovations on the house, which is situated on a 1/2 acre in the north end of the island and is also where they call home, with the help of family and friends.
To learn more about the studio, visit www.thenoisefloor.ca
Another DARK video from Peace! “Kissed Dust” is the second single off the album “The World Is Too Much With Us” recorded at The Noise Floor in 2012.
Vancouver trio the Courtneys brightened up our winters with their beach-based clip for "90210," and now that song and more will appear on a debut LP that could may well act as the soundtrack to your summer. The trio’s self-titled set drops June 7 via Hockey Dad Records.
A press release notes that the eight-song affair delivers “endlessly fun indie pop” akin to the Flying Nun and C86 scenes, though the outfit’s ”shambolic musicianship” apparently chips in some punkier flavours as well. If you picked up the Courtneys’ earlier cassette release on Green Burrito, you’ll notice a number of the tracks reappear on the 12-inch, but these are newly recorded versions that were captured at The Noise Floor recording studio in Ladysmith, BC, with producer Jordan Koop (Peace, Babysitter, Needles//Pins).
The Courtneys’ self-titled 12-inch release is being pressed in a limited run of 300 copies, with 200 appearing on traditional black vinyl and the remaining 100 on “classic blue.” That’s the album cover above.
The band will have a record release party on June 7 as part of Vancouver’s Music Waste festival, though venue specifics have yet to be revealed.
1. Nu Sundae
3. Insufficient Funds
5. Delivery Boy
6. Dead Dog
7. KC Reeves
8. Social Anxiety
With Spice Girls stickers pasted decoratively on mirrors, ‘90s reflections were mired in pop sensationalism. The decade shrieked for girl power and the response came in song. Initially earning wealth and fame for anthemic pop, skillful mass marketing molded the Spice Girls into icons. The five women moved transiently between band and brand. At the foot of their empire, children clawed for collectibles. Magazine quizzes gauged personality by “spice” and a feature film monopolized cinemas. Spice Girl fandom moved beyond music. In the ‘90s, the rumbles of pop melody were the movements of behemoth celebrity culture.
Twenty years later, Vancouver garage punk trio the Courtneys ask, “Which Courtney Are You?” (You can take their quiz.) Tie dye aside, this group’s nostalgia for the ‘90s extends beyond lyrics and fashion. Authoring workout videos, a wide selection of merchandise, online quizzes, and more, the Courtneys delve deeper into a not-so-distant decade. They toy with fame using social media and retail products. Imitating the marketing strategies of groups like the Spice Girls, the Courtneys have fun while allowing their audience to consider the complications of pop culture.
A bird’s unbroken chirp threads through the evening as the Courtneys and I sit on the Burrard Street YMCA patio. Often holding band meetings in the YMCA hot tub, Jen Twynn Payne (drums), Courtney Loove (guitar), Sydney Koke (bass), and I chat outside in the warmth of May.
Even glancing research confirms these girls are prolific self-promoters. During our interview, Payne sports one of the band’s new Courtneys snap-backs. Front and centre is the official Courtneys’ signature, a rare font blend of the logos from 90210, Fraser, and Club Monaco. These hats have the upcoming Courtneys album info printed on them, though they fit more snug on your head than inside the record sleeve. A significant addition to their line of merchandise, Koke comments, “It’s really exciting to just make things in all different contexts.” Their non-purchasable promotions are another example. These include How-To videos for working out, cooking, and catching a snake. “It’s fun to experiment with pop culture,” Koke explains. “I’m really intrigued by the way that people have advertised themselves in the past and the way that celebrity culture has worked in the past versus now.”
Experimenting with the notion of celebrity is always done with playful intention. Referencing the ‘90s is more serious. Despite certain song titles (“90210,” “K.C. Reeves”), the Courtneys claim irony is absent in their music. Payne dismisses assumptions of mocking and says, “I just do things that I think are cool and that I like. I’m not trying to be ironic.”
“I didn’t realize how ‘90s we were until I saw our merch table,” Loove adds. Hesitant to be swayed, visions of their Keanu Reeves cassette cover come to mind before Koke points out that the issue is really about “how irony and nostalgia are related.” She offers her recently confessed love of Sheryl Crow as example, and explains, “The nostalgia is real. It’s a real appreciation of stuff. It’s not because it’s a joke. It’s because it’s really awesome.” In a final pledge to prove the band’s sincerity, Payne announces, “I like Justin Bieber’s music.” Now I definitely believe them.
Originally from Calgary, Payne and Koke once bookended a band called Puberty. When Payne moved to Vancouver in 2010 as the drummer in Mac DeMarco’s Makeout Videotape, she chose to restart the band and invited Loove in as an added guitarist. Their first show took place at Pat’s Pub in 2011, almost a year after they had initially formed.
Crediting Pavement, the Clean, Dinosaur Jr., New Order, and Eddy Current Suppression Ring as influences, it took the poignancy of Koke’s own bass riff for the Courtneys to realize that they were also heavily influenced by the French electronic band Air. Trying to pair a bass line with Loove’s guitar part, Loove heard Koke’s creation and announced, “That’s Air!”
“Then we realized that we’re basically the punk version of a smooth, sexy electronic band,” Koke laughs in reflection.
And naturally capturing that sound has become the Courtneys’ next step. Their self-titled debut full-length album is set for release on June 7. Hockey Dad Records is releasing the vinyl (clear blue) and Gnar Tapes (Portland) will be dropping the cassette. The album’s eight songs capture the first era of the Courtneys, and it was recorded, mastered, and mixed with Jordan Koop at The Noise Floor in a snappy three days. Although admitting their songwriting process has since become more deliberate and selective, the girls felt they couldn’t go forward without releasing the best of what they’d already achieved. The collection is filled with instrumental introductions to jolting two to three minute songs. Climbing chords separate and synchronize with pace-setting drums. The reverb-shadowed notes always find Payne’s voice, as she offers prosaic lyrics in chanting pitch. The two charming standouts, “K.C. Reeves” (doubling on their Green Burrito cassette) and “90210,” wink with pop arrangement and impassive three-person phrasing.
Maybe it’s the low-fi, maybe it’s the minimalism, but the Courtneys have a definite summer-laden aesthetic to their garage punk sound. With the ‘90s splashed on their shirts and in their tunes, these girls’ light-hearted confrontations with celebrity push them beyond dynamic musicianship and dub them thoughtful and culturally conscious artists.
Snatch up a copy of the Courtneys new album at the Astoria on June 7 for their album release at Music Waste! Visitthecourtneys.bandcamp.com for merch and track downloads.
The new video by THE COURTNEYS for the track “90210” from their self titled album recorded here in a mere 3 days! Whoa!
The Noise Floor will be relocating to Gabriola Island at the end of May 2013! We are so excited to join the community on “The Isle of The Arts”!
May is filling up like crazy as people say goodbye to our fantastic live room here in Ladysmith. We will be closed until mid-August, though we will be gratefully accepting visitors (especially those of you with power tools!) as we finish construction on the new studio space.
We will be keeping a studio build diary on this site and on our Facbook page if you are interested in our progress. Check back often!
WE ARE MOVING! So we’re having a sale!
WE WILL PAY FOR YOUR VEHICLE AND DRIVER, ROUND TRIP - on all bookings of 3 days or more, on dates until May 31st. So basically Vancouver, just get in your car and enjoy checking out that Pacific Ocean, knowing that you’re riding over it’s face for free.
… with wonderful artists like these:
White Poppy / N E E D S / Handsome Distraction / Fist City / Bash Bros / Teledrome / Moths and Locusts / Capital Region / Dove / The Mohawk Lodge / KHBR / War Baby / Big Nothing / Ken Oakes / Weed / Dead Soft
all of whom we’ve had the pleasure of spending the last few months with.
How about some pictures?
FIST CITY - LIVE OFF THE NOISE FLOOR
HEY, NEW BUTTONS!
DEAD SOFT (MINUS DEAD SOFT) - LIVE OFF THE NOISE FLOOR
2013! Here we are, approaching almost 3 years of recording rad bands in a small town! We’ve had a fun and busy winter so far. December belonged to the Victoria bands for the most part with sessions with super soul group, THE CHANTRELLES,
We start the new recording year with return visits with favorites from all over: Nanimo’s MOTHS AND LOCUSTS, Vancouver’s WHITE POPPY mixing tracks for her new album on Not Not Fun, Victoria’s HANDSOME DISTRACTION and GOLDSWORTHY, Vancouver’s NEEDS, Calgary’s FIST CITY doing a “Live Off The Noise Floor” set and Vancouver/Toronto/Berlin’s THE MOHAWK LODGE.
February dates are still being penciled in with prime weekends still available at the end of the month.