Talk Show Host: 023: Cygnets

The wonders of the internet mean that it is now possible to discover bands from afar, and talk and enthuse about said bands without (always) having to spend considerable sums of money travelling to see them or purchase their music. Now, things are much easier, but there is perhaps more to sift through first.

Cygnets are one such band. They first came to my attention after various friends raving about their appearance at Terminus in 2014, and my wife and I were quickly hooked, particularly on the exceptional album Isolator (#13 2014 albums of the year, single Gallows #2 2014 tracks of the year). So thank god for Bandcamp and Youtube allowing us to listen, watch and purchase this band’s music easily, eh?

Anyway – I caught up with the band over e-mail to talk about progress so far, and the forthcoming new album Alone/Together. Images are courtesy of the band. So, Cygnets, hello – tell us about yourselves.

Cygnets: We are a 3-piece synthpop band from Edmonton, Canada. You’ve just released a new single “I’m Sorry (So Sorry)”, with a video that sees you not having any fun. Was this is a retort to suggestions you are a gloomy goth band at heart, or just a bit of fun?

Cygnets: Definitely both. We all hate fun so the idea of forcing ourselves into “fun” situations and filming it seemed like an awful yet hilarious idea. We like to regularly make videos that show we don’t take ourselves too seriously though. Cygnets release a new album next month, your fifth. With a higher profile than before, did you feel more pressure recording and writing this?

Cygnets: We’ve never felt any pressure ever. Music comes naturally to us, and we only make albums that we love and connect with us. There’s never been any worry about what other people might think or how it might affect our career, which is, in our opinion the best way to make art in general. You released two albums in 2014, a fairly unusual move. How come?

Cygnets: It was kind of a ‘Let It Be’/’Abbey Road’ situation, minus the fighting and breakup. We recorded a series of songs in late 2012/early 2013 and released them as stand-alone singles. Then in 2014 we recorded ‘Isolator’, which did not include any of these singles. After that album came out, a label approached us to release something, and we agreed to revisit the singles plus three other songs that were written around the same time. This became ‘Sleepwalkers’, which is a bit of an oddball collection that against all odds seems to work as a unit.

Aloneblue recolored title Word has spread about your live performances. Being a synth-based band, what was your approach to playing live, and how have you evolved it as time has gone by?

Cygnets: Step one was to have a headbanging synth player (which we’ve actually had since day one). It’s amazingly entertaining. Also as time has gone on, our singer has been playing increasingly less instruments live, making way for him to do his best David Gahan moves, which audiences generally seem to love. My wife and I detect a distinct nineties and British influence to your sound at points. Are there any particular bands from that period and location that mean anything to you?

Cygnets: When we started out, we were huge fans of The Smiths, Joy Division, Pulp, and Bloc Party, and those styles, which are all very quintessentially British, definitely embedded themselves into our way of making music. What other bands and/or movements would you say have influenced your sound and style?

Cygnets: We’ve been influenced by a million bands, too many to mention, but most recently there has been a huge influx of Canadian synth-wave bands like Austra, Young Galaxy, and TRST that have certainly inspired us and made us feel a little more at home in our National music scene.

Cygnets Promo 2016b Talking of bands, your domain suggests – somehow – some might have confused you with Swans. Hopefully not?

Cygnets: Ha, not the band Swans. The word cygnets is the term for young swans, so we felt we should make it clear that we’re still ugly ducklings, and will never be truly beautiful, but always in the rough; always in progress. Also, surely it’s not possible that ANYone could confuse us with the band Swans. How did Cygnets come to be formed?

Cygnets: Cygnets originally formed as the hybrid of two separate projects; Logan and Dan had an electronic experimental songwriting project, and Logan and Chris were making noisy shoegaze-inspired guitar music. These things came together to form the two halves of Cygnets’ sound. What’s the next steps for the band? Any plans to play live further afield?

Cygnets: We’re working on new recordings (we always have a million songs), this time some really old songs of ours that we feel can’t be left behind any longer. Also we’re planning to play places we’ve never been in Canada or if possible some U.S. shows for the fall.

The new album Alone/Together is out 23-September on Negative Gain. Single I’m Sorry (So Sorry) is out now.

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