Windmills is a one man band formed in April 2011 by an experimental loop artist Cory Myraas. Based in Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Windmills keeps on creating a huge buzz for his unique and breath taking live shows. Playing electric indie folk-rock, this original and very talented artist shows us a different way of music making by creating the sound and melodies by looping, all by himself. Windmills’ debut album Keep Moving has been released at the beginning of this year and consists of 9 excellent tracks. Cory’s vocals blend perfectly with the music and the whole record creates a very special atmosphere you ought to experience.
Windmills is currently working on his new EP album. You can find out more about it in the interview below together with a discussion about his interesting music making process, live shows, debut album, future plans and more.
Your style of making music is very original. Could you describe the usual process of it?
The life of a loop artist is not quite as lavish and jam friendly as the usual suspects found in bands. It’s a long, or sometimes brilliantly short process in which one part is usually written or conceived, and the rest comes after countless sessions of trial and error. It can be quick and painless, or it can be hours of tweaking making sure each line works, the timing is all right, and the right parts are coming in at the right times.
I can pin-point each song I’ve written down to its genesis guitar line, from the opening notes of “Great Divide” to the bass line in “Creating Something Beautiful”. Every song starts with one line I can’t ignore; the rest is simply built upon it until a song is born.
What made you decide to create music in this particular way?
I played in a 4 piece rock outfit for a few years and when that ended I thought long and hard about what I wanted to pursue next. It literally took me 8 months, probably 6 and a half months of not thinking about music, and then the last month and a half of a kind of light-bulb moment in which I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I never considered looping as a solo act seriously until one fateful day of messing around with my pedal. From there I started writing feverishly and trying to figure out how to make it work and not be the same clichéd solo looper. My good friend Rob Raybould (who happens to co-produce and engineer my records) forced me to push myself to do something unique. I’m not standing on stage with a guitar and a loop pedal screaming and whining, I’m forcing myself to add together all the parts to make an entertaining and lasting memory//sound.
Do you remember your first live show as Windmills? What was the reaction of the audience like after hearing all that sound coming from just one man?
My first show as Windmills was May 28th, 2011. I was opening for 3 other bands and was so god-damn nervous I’m not sure how I managed to play. In the beginning I had written 5 songs, “Great Divide”, “We’ll Be Alone”, “Salt”, “Fire”, and “Rise”. Originally I had thought about releasing a concept EP as those 5 songs seemed to all be linked lyrically. Also at that show I hadn’t acquired a floor-tom yet so I was percussion free with the exception of the tambourine on “Salt”. I think the crowd expected me to be terrible as a solo act, they weren’t expecting looped vocals, reverse and double time loops, or anything really. I played “Great Divide” terribly, that’s what I remember. But shockingly after I played I had around 5 people asking for a CD. I was humbled to say the least, from there Windmills just… kept moving.
How much time and energy does it take you to put a song together or prepare for a live show?
Oh man, good question. It’s a constant ongoing process I find. There’s a song on the new record that has gone through probably 4 different variations, countless hours of tweaking something as simple as a chord progression or literally adding 2 notes. Other songs such as “Great Divide” or “Kiss” were written in an evening, somewhere in the 2 hour ballpark. It’s really a balancing act. You know when you write something that is going to make it to the final cut, just like when you’re unsure of something it probably won’t make it past the jam room.
Preparing for a live show depends on the venue I’m occupying, if the venue is quiet and intimate, my set-list will be full of the more emotional, down-tempo songs that suit the environment, if it’s a bar/pub show I’ll throw in an upbeat cover and play the fast songs that get the audience involved.
Your debut album is called ‘’Keep Moving’’ and from what I’ve seen, you often like to use the phrase ‘’Windmills keep moving’’. What is your philosophy behind this?
Before there was the album I tended to end my Facebook updates with “windmills keep moving” and I think very quickly, and very easily, it became Windmills philosophy. With the imagery of a windmill or a group of windmills constantly in motion, to my own constant challenge to myself to “keep moving” and write songs that haven’t been heard, put together in new ways, looping vocals and drums to create a new one-man band performance. Even treating my live shows as performance pieces, the stage banter, the humour, it’s always in a state of movement or progression. The day you stop moving you die. When the decision to name the album came around I battled with the idea of a self-titled release of a release with a name and a purpose. Naturally “Keep Moving” fit perfectly.
On a side note a few people have asked why I’m called Windmills and not Windmill, and I’ll answer it here. A) Windmill just sounds terrible to me, and B) while Windmills is plural and I’m a solo act, the idea of looping vocals, guitars, and drums in a way that no solo act could pull off without the pedals and set-up I use gave birth to the S. I’m very much a full band in a solo act.
Are there any tracks on this album that are more personal to you than the others and if yes, can you tell us why?
Every track on “Keep Moving” has come from a place of personal experience in the last few years of my life. That said, I know there is a melancholy tone on some of the tracks, and words like “break-up” have been used. However, I try to write songs that take elements of my life and creatively exploit them. I would never write a break-up song about a specific girl, because then you’re giving away the power of that emotion. Instead I focus on the collective joy of new-love, the collective heartbreak, the collective new beginning.
The track “Corona” is extremely personal, and breaks the rules I’ve just stated above. There’s a very special place in my heart for that song, just like there’s a very special place in my heart for the girl who inspired it and continually inspires me.
Windmills trivia: The chorus line in “Great Divide”, “and she thinks she knows me but she hasn’t got a clue” was inspired by the MTV Show “Diary Of…” specifically, “You think you know me, but you have no idea… diary of Christina Aguilera”. The creative process, she is bizarre.
You have recently mentioned working on a new record. How is that progressing?
I’m currently in the tracking process of a new 5-track EP set to be released this fall. I can tell you I’m ridiculously excited for this follow-up. I can tell you the songs have matured and have more purpose. I can tell you I’m adding more to this record in terms of instrumentation, textural effects, effects, and ambience. Whereas “Keep Moving” was ideally as close to my live sound as possible, this record will be more advanced. I’ve got some new, older influences for this record. I can tell you that the EP has a title, and the cover art has been chosen. But you’ll have to wait to find out what it is/what it looks like…
What kind of music do you listen to in your free time and are there any artists/bands you draw your influences from?
My musical influences are wide and cover everything it seems. In terms of my song-writing I draw inspiration from the likes of Andrew Bird, Aidan Knight, Sting, and Timber Timbre. The birth of the double-time loops, or the reverse loops comes from Minus the Bear. One of my favorite bands in general. I also love the moodiness of Interpol, or the juxtaposition of cheerful music with dark music a la The Smiths. Johnny Marr is a guitar inspiration, and Morrissey is Morrissey, you can’t say much more than that. The reason I play guitar is because of John Frusciante. My favorite bands jump from contemporary to older artists almost as frequently as I can write new music. I’ve been listening to a lot of Brian Eno lately, and a lot of St. Vincent. Somehow that works.
Have you ever been to the UK? And is there any particular place or festival you would like to play in the future?
Sadly I have not made it to the UK, the closest I’ve been is France and the Netherlands in person, and the English Premier League from the comfort of my couch. It’s one of those places I know I’ll make it to eventually, sooner than later. There are countless festivals, especially in the UK that I’d love to play, but for now I’m on a constant look out and drive to enter all the festivals I can in and around BC. It’s hard because I’ve only been Windmills for just over a year, but my ideal goal/dream is a European tour, small intimate venues and living rooms, and build the fan base internationally. I’ve had so much love sent my way from the UK, Europe, and all over internationally that I need to give some of it back.
What would you like to achieve with your music in the next year or so?
It will be hard to top this past year of Windmills, so much has happened with the release of “Keep Moving”, being given a FACTOR Canada grant in March, and playing the amount of shows I’ve played. This next year I really want to “keep moving” in that uphill direction, getting the new EP all over the interwebs and everywhere in between, hopefully getting more album reviews, and playing as many shows, festivals, and events that I can. I’ve got a music video set to come out sometime in the near future, and I’m thinking of a possible video project for the new EP, or some sort of multimedia experience to accompany the new record. Time will tell.
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