Forces At Play: Royal Canoe

Royal Canoe have never let their sound be constrained to one genre. Through playful stylistic reconstruction, the Winnipeg-based six piece blend a myriad of sounds into their own unique upbeat pop orchestration. But they take this a step further on their latest album, Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit. Tracks “Love You Like That” and “Living A Lie,” boast hip hop beats that beg to be rapped over, while traces of gospel hymns are felt on “Walk Out On The Water.” The tracks boast an ingenuity of genre exploration that can move an audience with the capacity of pop legends. 

Ahead of Royal Canoe’s performance at Holocene on 9.28, we had the chance to chat with them about themes on the new album, their inclination for genre experimentation, who they’re listening to, and their thoughts on the current political climate in America. 

You cite your hometown of Winnipeg as a core influence for your work, relating the vibes of your two 2012 eps to hot open spaces, while 2013’s Today We’re Believers took more of an urban feel. Where would you say your new album lands on that radar? 

I’d say musically and lyrically the album sounds like it was made in a city and about a city. A bunch of us are from the country and so sometimes we get nostalgic about it. Leaving the city is used at times like exiting a sort of metaphorical restraint. An example, the song ‘Holidays’ is about feeling like that sick tiger pacing around his cage at the zoo, doing the same thing you’ve done for years, with the same people, without progression. Then the last lyrics offer some possible hope. The here we are again becomes less of a negative thing.

‘Off to the edge of the city we rode

All of our lenses were flaring in tone

The sun was on fire and we were alone

Oh here we are again, oh here we are’

Your discography covers a wide range of genres, while remaining unified through your unique lens of energetic, pop orchestration. Are there any styles you enjoy working with most, or maybe ones that emerge more organically when writing? 

There are so many hip hop beats that end up being created which we throw out. Stuff that just needs to be rapped over… but we’re singers – and what’s the most boring part of a rap song? Normally the sung chorus, you just want to get back to the verse. So hip hop is definitely an influence for us, but it’s an interesting line we try and walk. There is some sort of “talk singing” on this album that is perhaps the closest we’ll get.

Any styles you haven’t explored yet but would like to? 

For the most part I think we’ve explored the genres that are interesting to us. We throw out a lot of the music we create, this album probably had 50 or so songs that didn’t fit, that could have made up a totally different sounding album in a different genre, so there is probably even more genre experimentation in the band than what gets out to the public.

What are you listening to currently that you’re inspired by? 

Anderson .Pack – he’s an absolute must listen.

Any advice for the people of America as this circus of an election cycle is heating up?

I think the election has come at an unfortunate time. The way people communicate for the most part has been stripped of nuance, articles tell you your role before you even read them. Events happen and draw a line in the sand, people on their Facebook all feel obligated to jump to their side. People are screaming at each other from increasingly further sides of the political spectrum. It creates an environment where having meaningful public discussion is harder that it’s been for quite a long time.

That said, it’s even more tragic that Trump has become the leader of the right, because in my opinion he couldn’t care less about his support base. So I guess if I have any advice, it’s – this isn’t the time for a protest vote, just vote Hillary. Then perhaps in that future, the people who find themselves on the conservative side of the spectrum who don’t share Trump’s racist views, can still have a system where they can re-group and be represented. I think Hillary is the best chance at restoring some sort of meaningful dialogue between the right and the left.