Ambient-pop-drone from Canada: Lying Light in the Quiet

February 24, 2016

It’s always fascinating to follow someone’s musical adventures throughout the years and see what direction they take, what paths they follow or what kind of detours they make and where do they end up. We got in touch with Alex Stooshinoff a while back when he was pursuing his aural dreams straight out of Saskatoon, Canada with his solo project Living Room. Quite some time has passed since then. Alex moved to Montreal, started studying electroacoustics and joined forces with his friend Zac Knuttila which resulted in the birth of their new project called Lying Light in the Quiet. Their first album ‘Recovery’ is their first ever physical release, which is also the debut release on Permanent Touch Records and will be available on Cassette, 12” LP and online May 6th, 2016. Luckily, you don’t have to wait until May, as we have the pleasure to give you an apéritif. While you’re discovering these new sounds, also read our chat with Alex and Zac to get to know their project a bit better!

Lying Light In The Quiet: Zac Knuttila and Alex Stooshinoff (Photo: Emily Kohlert)

Lying Light In The Quiet: Zac Knuttila and Alex Stooshinoff (Photo: Emily Kohlert)

Who are Lying Light In The Quiet and what do we have to know about you? How did the two of you meet?

Alex: Lying Light in the Quiet is the strange collaboration between two friends. We met in high school. Zachary is a few years older than I so we never had any classes together. We met through the drama program, and I was also friends with his sister, Kendall.
Zac: We had actually known each other for four or five years before we ever did any collaborative work together. Which I often forget about when I think about our relationship.

When and how did you become interested in music?

A: I became interested in music around the age of 13. I was just struck by how it could move me so deeply. In high school I used to lay in bed at night and listen to music most nights. I borrowed a friend’s guitar when I was 15 and taught myself how to play it. After that I started exploring singing, synthesis and songwriting.
Z: My love of music started around the time I began high school. I started getting exposed to music outside of the pop sphere and became quite obsessed with music as an exploratory pursuit. It wasn’t until several years later that music started to have an effect on me similar to what Alex described and years after that before I began to think about music as something I could be a part of.

Who influenced you the most in your musical journey?

A: It’s hard to draw definite conclusions. I would say the artists that I’m most emotionally attached to are Port St. Willow, Grouper, Sun Kil Moon, and WHY? I’ve spent serious time with the records of each of these artists. I love them dearly, and I am grateful for how they have shaped me.
Z: The fact that I did not start learning to play any instruments until just a few years ago has really lead me to be influenced by music that could be considered “digital music”, Hip Hop in particular. I find that I am often most inspired by things that resonate in a way that makes me feel a real honest connection with the creator, the lyrics of Yoni Wolf, the writing of Jeff Lemire, as examples.

Your debut album ‘Recovery’ was written last summer as a series of recorded improvisations. Lead us through this recording process.

A: Zachary and I decided to form a band in April of 2015. We had jammed a few times, but we wanted to put together a set for Weird Canada’s “National Drone Day”. So we made an extended ambient piece for that, and when it came time to record it, so much more experimentation happened in the studio. The track ‘Carrion’ for instance, has one acoustic guitar line that Zachary wrote, and there are four electric guitar tracks layered overtop that I improvised and recorded one morning. Sometimes songs came together from random bits of sound that we had recorded. ‘Ritual’ wasn’t written until the end of the mixing stage. We pulled up this vocal drone that I had made, and Zachary arranged the flute and guitar samples overtop of it. The second movement of ‘Recovery’ features some modulated noise. The noise source was just a half-unplugged guitar cable going through a delay pedal! Really the songs are like happy accidents.
Z: The whole process was very easy. We would just get together and play around with simple ideas until something started to resonate with both of us and we would follow it until the idea seemed complete.

Alex, you recently moved to Montreal but originally you’re from Saskatoon (“come for the culture, stay because your car won’t start”), Canada. How’s life over there?

A: Life in Montreal is great! I’m studying electroacoustics at Concordia right now, and it’s been a positive experience. Moving was strange for a bit, I felt like my whole life became long-distance. I spent so much time walking around the city and talking on the phone with the people close to me. 

It can get pretty cold during winter time over there… Did that inspire you when it comes to creativity or the opposite?

A: I am inspired by the wintertime. It forces you to stay inside and apply your energy to something. Also, I tend to write songs when I’m alone at night, and I spend a lot of time alone in the winter. I like to stay in and light candles and meditate or read.
Z: The winter for me is a very dark time. As someone who is often very exploratory, being trapped inside leaves me with only the ability to explore myself. This has the capacity to be very saddening on occasion, but also facilitates the development of most of my creative thoughts. It’s very much a double edged sword for me.

So you guys don’t live in the same city now, how does that influence the two of you working together? After spending some time physically being able to experiment together, how does this new situation working out for you?

A: Zachary and I just communicate over the phone and the internet now. We haven’t made any new music since the summertime – we’ve just been doing behind-the-scenes work, so our long distance relationship has been working out fine! I actually went back home over the Christmas holidays, and we had a chance to experiment with a live set, and it worked out surprisingly well. I’m in Saskatoon again in late April, so we’ll be working together in person as we prepare for our tour! I’m actually in Vancouver at the moment, where I may be moving to later in the summer. Zachary has plans to relocate to the west coast at some point so we may yet end up in the same city again!
Z: I actually find it quite frustrating to have ideas that I think would work well in the context of the music we make and to not be able to quickly share those with Alex. I think it would have been a very different experience to try to make this album with the geographic gap. Though I am interested to see how our improvisational song writing style could be integrated into a more computer-based collaboration.

Lying Light In The Quiet: The Air, Thin and Eager (Cover)

Lying Light In The Quiet: Recovery (Cover)

After a series of self-released EPs this is your first physical record that will be released both on record and tape. Do you find it complicated to find a label and get a ‘proper’ release out these days? What are your personal thoughts about this?

A: It is hard in the sense that we’re starting from the beginning with a brand new project, and trying to do it justice. Also we’re stretched between so many things – Zachary and I are both students, we live in different cities, he has a lot of visual art on the go, and I’m currently working on a solo record. That said, I’m really happy with the way this record is developing. Zachary and I made it to have fun. We just wanted to do something creative together. Somewhere along the way we decided to put it out as a proper release, i.e. we have a press push, we’re not just putting it on bandcamp. Every record is a learning experience, and I have definitely learned the most from this record with Lying Light in the Quiet. That said, I’m happy to have had the experience of putting out two other albums on my own. Zachary and I have a really great collaborative relationship. We compliment each other in well. I’m excited to see what happens in the future!
Z: Like Alex said I never really had any intention of any of this happening. It began as an opportunity to explore music together but has since evolved into much more. Having not released music before, I mostly deferred to Alex in regards to this release, however I have to say that it has been a wonderful experience for me.

What’s next? What are your future plans?

A: Right now there are no future plans. The future is indeterminate! We have this tour looming, and we’ve played with the idea of releasing an album of live recordings because our live set is so completely different from the record. We each have some solo material that we’re working on right now, and we’ll see how our styles change and develop when it comes time to make music together again.
Z: We’re touring in support of ‘Recovery’ this summer and I would love to make more music as a duo though we haven’t any concrete plans to do so yet. Since finishing the album I’ve had a chance to explore some independent ideas that don’t fit within the style of Lying Light in the Quiet and plan on releasing some solo music in the near-ish future.

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