No Joy hail from Canada and have released three LPs with the label Mexican Summer since their late 2009 inception. Since the beginning the group has continually received praises from critics including their most recent effort, More Faithful, that came out this past June.
We recently caught up with No Joy’s bassist, Michael Farsky and he graciously agreed to answer some questions via email.
The Fire Note: More Faithful is one of those records that every time I think I’m done with it, I wake up the next day with this urge to go revisit a handful of tracks and then just end up listening to the whole thing all day again. How do you guys feel now that the album’s been out for a month or so? Is there a sense that you nailed it this time around?
Michael Farsky: It’s easy to feel removed from anything fresh about the album because it’s been finished for so long. The real breakthroughs came over a year ago when we were writing the songs. The process of recording in October was a scramble to ensure that we would capture it all, and then the time between the album being finished & being released was a stressful effort in making sure nothing was mishandled or misrepresented. Now that it’s actually out there and people can listen & react to it, it’s nice to be reminded that we made something bold and unique, and represents a balance of all of our ideas from that time.
TFN: Who do you consider your influences? What are you some things you’re listening to these days?
Farsky: It’s a broad mix for each of us. We all like some adventurous stuff and some dark stuff and some happy stuff and some Top 40 stuff. We each hear something different in whatever we come across and bring that to writing our own songs. Each of us was somehow attached to pop-punk/skate-punk/emo music in the late 90’s/early 00’s when we were beginning to learn to play instruments. That music probably still has some large influence on the way we write presently.
Some things we’re listening to lately/always are Swirlies, Saves the Day, Big Sean, Viet Cong, The Magnetic Fields, smog, Rancid, Caribou, Deafheaven, Weird Al Yankovic.
TFN: Can you talk a bit about your songwriting or recording process? I sense a bit of aleatoricism, or maybe Burroughs-style cut ups, in the way the songs sort of rise and fall. Do you guys go out looking to disorient the listener on some level?
Farsky: When we’re piecing together a song, normally we might discuss and agree on a mood and approach we’d like to form a song out of, or elements we’d like to include for whatever effect we think is vital and exciting. We’ll exchange & develop ideas and the songs become more refined, adding & taking away until each of us is satisfied. Nearly nothing is left up to chance and the details are laboured over intensely before we get into the studio. I don’t think there’s an intention to explicitly disorient a listener, but we always integrate some conflict & complexity to give color to the songs. We have a short patience for anything too rigidly formulaic or predictable, so our challenge becomes attaining an eloquent & articulated thought with enough sharp changes that we remain engaged the whole way through.
TFN: What was it like recording in Costa Rica? What drew you to that location?
Farsky: The time spent finishing the record in Costa Rica consisted of us sitting in a semi-circle facing a computer and two speakers for 12-hours a day, making minute & specific changes to levels and tones to a painstaking degree. We could have done the same in a cabin in the Canadian prairies and the album wouldn’t have sounded much different. Circumstances concerning our producer Jorge’s work & family brought us to Costa Rica. We had a lot of fun, but we didn’t exactly go by choice.
TFN: Maybe it’s just the circles I travel in, but it seems like now more than ever, most of the music worth thinking and talking about is being fronted by women. Do you find that to be the case?
Farsky: Sure, somewhat. Lots of women are producing great music lately, but that’s also been the case before just recently.
TFN: Any plans for a tour?
Farsky: Yup, we’re touring through Europe in September and then returning through the States & Canada in October.
Thanks again to Michael Farsky, No Joy and Mexican Summer. More Faithful from No Joy is out now – go grab yourself a copy!
No Joy Website
No Joy Facebook
-Interview by Neil Barbour