With each passing song release, CANVAS continues to add new colours to their already decorated sonic palette. The New York-based alternative rock band released their latest single, “Kamikaze Lightshow,” in January, a song that challenges you to consider how we are destroying ourselves via the pervasive culture of social media. People are succumbing to social media and allowing it to hurt them through the allure and obligation to expose themselves through spectacle. It’s certainly a very topical issue as our lives become even more intertwined with the thirst for celebrity and attention.
Consisting of singer-songwriter Jerid Nowell, keyboardist and producer Daniel Glavin, and drummer Jesse Rothman, CANVAS has built a loyal following within and around New York City, committing themselves to an experimental nature when it comes to their music. There is no rule book or expectation of what a finished product may sound like; it’s all about giving themselves to sonic diversity and exploring the unknown. There is a big focus on genre-bending when approaching each song, with everything from big, rousing anthems to soulful ballads on the table.
We recently caught up with the trio to get a better sense of what CANVAS is all about, their creative process, and the new record.
How would you describe your own music?
“Experimental. We strive to break boundaries every time we create a song. We also love to blend genres, creating different scenes throughout. Some records may be more rock-influenced, and some may be more singer-songwriter with punk, pop, and even hip-hop influence. Lastly, through our soundscapes and tinkering with sound selection, we strive to have the listener consistently ask, ‘Woah. How did they do that?’.”
How would you describe your creative process?
“Our creative process is truly different every time. We believe the only constant within our process is that we remain open to letting it happen the way ‘it’ wants to happen. Sometimes, it starts with a melody that we’d like to produce around before we begin the writing process. Other times, there may be a single word or phrase that starts blossoming into an entire idea within minutes. On certain occasions, (lead singer) Jerid (Nowell) will come to us with an entire song format laid out in his head that we quickly produce, knowing that we will come back later to perfect the sound selection and complete edits.”
What’s the best criticism you’ve ever received about your music or performance?
“The best criticism we’ve received from our music is that it is ‘film/TV ready.’ We have consistently made it a point to not only consume music in media, but to research it. Film and commercial scores have helped to transform the entertainment landscape, so we were naturally ecstatic to receive a criticism in that regard. We believe the greatest artists of all time can first replicate the greats, experiment, then develop their own sound, which is precisely what we have aimed to do.”
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
“Our answer is twofold. We would like to see a resurgence in talent scouting and artist development as both have become somewhat antiquated, hidden behind strictly numbers and virality. Secondly, we would like to see higher pay per digital stream for artists. We feel that although the culture surrounding music has changed tremendously, the exploitation of the artist and creator is still very much intact. Artists who strongly impact a culture should be compensated properly for that gift.”
What do you like most about playing music?
“We love that music is the universal language. While any given language may be foreign to countries around the world, they will still understand the emotion of a chord progression, the tone of a vocal, and the feeling in the way an instrument is played. Music connects people, and it evokes all types of emotions from within. Our intention with playing music is to help people make it through tough times, to implore you to tell that person you love them, or to attain a better sense of self to improve their lives.”
Which do you enjoy the most: writing, recording, practicing, or playing live?
“It’s a tie between writing and playing live. The process of writing has always been so fluid to the point where we allow the songs to write themselves. There’s always that ‘special moment’ when writing/producing where a spark happens, and everyone in the room knows the song is not only worthy of finishing, but worthy of a push to the world. That’s where the performing piece comes in. Seeing that great idea materialize and then seeing a crowd’s reaction after hearing it live are two of our favourite drugs, equally addictive. Well, that and Double Stuff Oreos.”
What is the story behind the new single “Kamikaze Lightshow?”
“The idea for ‘Kamikaze Lightshow’ came to us amongst the rise of social media and its undeniable effect on human behaviour. We wanted to analyze how we interacted not only with each other, but with ourselves. We feel genuine connections have become less prominent in a culture where the only vulnerability that people were willing to show others was in these carefully curated ‘windows’ into their personal lives, rather than the whole picture.
“For us, we saw the rise of social media begin to bring out a cannibalistic-type nature where people consumed themselves for the attention of others, and we went mad living in it. This song is our rebellious anthem against that.”
What do you think of the current state of the genre you play in?
“We’ve never considered the word ‘genre’ to be anything other than a limitation of what an artist or band’s audience will accept them for. Increasingly over time, we believe this train of thought is entering a state of obsolescence. We’re looking at multiple generations now of multifaceted artists that wish to step out beyond one set genre. Artists want to create what they feel, give it meaning, and share it with the world.
“That said, the overwhelming genre we are placed in is Rock. It is no surprise that here in the United States, Rock has been suppressed for quite a few years now. The current state of Rock may not be commercially appealing on a large scale, but we maintain a much larger focus on evoking emotion and bettering people’s lives through music than to garner accolades. However, we believe, like many things in life, popular music genres are cyclical. We think this trend continues, and Rock makes a comeback in the next five years or so.”
If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take three CDs with you for eternity (assuming there was a solar-powered CD player), what would they be?
“David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Queen, A Night at the Opera, and Muse, The Resistance.”
Tell us about your experience going it alone as an artist. How hard is it to get your music distributed, promoted, shared, etc.?
“The experience is equally fulfilling as it is exhausting. As far as distribution, we equate it to cooking as it is all about the preparation and timing. We prefer to upload our songs well in advance of the release date to give us ample time to promote, pitch, and conduct outreach accordingly. Having music shared is most always done through word of mouth for us, apart from us hiring PR and pitching on sites like SubmitHub.
“Promotion/marketing is the most difficult component. It is a consistent battle between where to put your marketing dollars in this everchanging industry and seeking to get your music to as many people as possible.”