Canadian Winters: Jeremy Greenspan Of Junior Boys Talks


It has been five years since the last Junior Boys release, much time has passed. As Jeremy begins to speak it becomes clear that there have been some complexities surrounding the forthcoming album, an excited hesitance can be read from his tone as he tells the tales of the past five years. This Friday, "Big Black Coat" will be released and it is arguably a change in direction for the pair: an emotive, expressive electronic record with pop sensibilities and an analog depth, an ambitious release. 

Jeremy explains the reasoning behind his and Matt's five year absence as Junior Boys. 

"We finished the last record whilst we were touring a year after the record before that had come out. The last tour was really hard, we had some personal stuff that happened at the end of it that was really difficult. Everyone was feeling really drained. So we really wanted to do some other stuff and by the end of the last album I had started working on music with Jessy Lanza: that really took my attention and focus for the whole of 2012 and 2013."   

Musical inspiration can take many forms, often abstract or personal they can emerge from surroundings, thought processes and existential ideas. Jeremy explains the choice in title behind the forthcoming album, 'Big Black Coat'. 

"It wasn’t too much deeper in the sense that I wrote this song called Big Black Coat and my lyrics usually start out with a vocal melody that’s a bunch of gibberish that I’m saying on the fly. There were sounds in the song that sounded like a swishing coat, so I just started singing about a coat. After the album was done I realised all of the songs were kind of about the same thing; they were all kind of about people from my hometown of Hamilton which is a down and out place."

He expands upon this. 

"All the songs were about the guys that I saw down town who were just lonely and walking around. I wanted to give them a voice and all the songs are about guys who are frustrated with their emotional lives, frustrated by women, frustrated by everything. So the coat became a metaphor and an analogy of a way to insulate yourself away from the harshness of a Canadian winter. It’s pretty bleak."

A large quantity of music was scrapped during the production process behind the new record. Jeremy describes how they scrapped track after track, well over an albums worth to be more concise. The cover of "What You Won't Do For Love" was never supposed to be released, let alone featured on the album. Up until a couple of months ago it wasn't included in the final tracklist. Jeremy talks about how the track came to fruition and ended up being picked up by Dan Snaith's Jialong label.

"That song is kind of polarising. It doesn’t really sound like us, it’s very different to the rest of the album and it’s very different to the original actually. The original is actually by Bobby Caldwell and then Michael Boothman did it and so did Roy Ayers. Everyone’s covered it. If you don’t know the original I don’t blame you. We were going to put it on the album, but Dan from Caribou liked it so much that he put it on his label. He was the one that really loved it."

Jeremy is incredibly humble, there is a depth to his character which is expressed through many of the lyrics featured on the release. However, he comes alive as we begin to discuss hardware and instruments.

"I’ve spent the better half of my adult life collecting hardware. We’re different to most electronic bands in as far as we rely so heavily on hardware, as opposed. There’s very little on the record in terms of sound generation that I do with software.  The reason that I have all this equipment is that I’m often inspired by new pieces. I like to be able to go into the studio and play around with it so that I can figure out what I can do with it. It sounds like I have a million dollar studio, that’s not the case. Using a new piece of gear can be as simple as using a new chair or a new table. For example, recently I got a really nice new reverb and I was just so inspired to go into the studio and make stuff using this reverb. At the moment I’m doing a new EP that’s going to be super ambient and really reverb-y, just because I’m really inspired to use this new equipment. So whatever’s new is what I’m using."

Over the coming months Junior Boys will be embarking on a wide scale tour which will see them travel across continents. The new release may reflect the hometown of Jeremy but it certainly caters to a worldwide demographic of listeners. Jeremy describes how towns like Glasgow, where they will be playing in a few weeks, can capture a similar essence of melancholic sadness as found on the release.

The coming year sound very positive, a change in the tides for the pair. There is a sense of growth, maturity and self discovery on this record which has led them to the position which they are in now. Sometimes an album may take time, but often they are worth waiting for.

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