Your latest single “Thinking I’m Going Crazy Over You”, has that MGMT sound to it. Are they one of your influences? Also, what was the concept behind the music video?
Actually, not really. Although we both like the first MGMT album, it’s not something we really listen to often, but thinking about it, it really does sound like it a bit! The song was originally written on guitar and had an indie rock, almost industrial style sound. When we met Liam Howe (The Sneaker Pimps) we decided to re-image the song and then came up with a few ideas, mainly influenced by music similar to Tame Impala and Blondie. Liam has a classic Roland Jupiter 6 synthesizer and we used that to create all the lush sounds. To be honest, we really didn’t have any band in mind and just tried to create a sound that was a bit different for us.
As for the music video, we were really struggling with creating a video for the song, mainly because of COVID. We knew we could not hire actors or do much in terms of a complicated video and we didn’t want a ‘live’ style video. So we decided to write a story and put a few creative children to work. Michelle’s daughter Madison has acted in some films and so, we decided to write a story and film it with her in mind. We tend to watch a lot of old horror movies and we recently rewatched the classic movie Basket Case which gave Jay an idea.
Thematically, the song Think I’m Going Crazy Over You is basically about going crazy watching abusive men get away with repercussions that are less than they deserve. We wrote a whole short film about this idea and filmed as much as we could using our cell phone. The idea is, there is a woman who is lost, wandering alone. The women of the future (the young girls) know she is lost and want to help. Fortunately, they have discovered a way to use their power to take back control and show the lost women that the future is brighter. The kids make a map to a secret treasure, which are the roses. The roses symbolize traditional chivalry. They then bring the roses to the lost girl, but the roses are not for the girl, they are for the monster that lives in a case in their garage. This unseen ‘monster’ eats bad men once fed stereotypical female offerings, ie Roses. So, you see the kids feed the unseen monster a rose at which it becomes excited, not sexually but in a murderous rampage. The end of the video is the kids bringing the now empowered rose/man eating monster to a house of a previous abuser. We had plans to film a few more bloody scenes with like a leg and stuff so you get the idea of the monster and that he eats bad men, but we ran out of time.
We are still going to film at some point however and release the short film. The actual video changes perspectives as well, between first person and from the perspective of future generations watching the past and seeing how far they came.
We are really proud of the way it came out. Although, the version on Youtube is not the final cut.
What was it like working with Liam Howe ( Sneaker Pimps) who’s produced some heavy hitters such as Lana Del Rey and Elie Goulding? What did you learn from that experience?
Liam was great, he is obviously a highly creative and talented person. The one thing we learned was to use some of his approach to producing. When we spoke and he listened to the song we sent him, he immediately had two ideas. One idea was influenced by artists such as LCD Soundsystem and Blondie, the second was more along the lines of Tame Impala. The idea wasn’t to copy, but to use their sound as an influence and embrace the mood of the artist. I think we naturally work in that way, but seeing the way he does it makes us realize we had the right idea, but we had to dive into our influences more and embrace them.
Besides writing music, what do you do to perculate creativity?
Michelle reads a lot of books while Jay watches a lot of movies and films. Both of us come to songwriting sessions with moods in mind, often we get ideas after watching a film or reading a book. Apart from this, both of us play other instruments, which also helps. Jay does a lot of photography and shoots short films. Many of our ideas come pretty spontaneously from that.
Alanis Morrissette is one of Ottawa’s most famous artists. Do you ever cover her songs or pay homage to her in any way?
Alanis and Tom Green! Michelle is a big Alanis fan, she is a Canadian Icon. I don’t think we purposely pay homage musically, but at the same time, I think Alanis set the groundwork for women, particularly Canadian women, to get outside of music that is more stereotypical of women here in Canada. It’s still difficult if you are a female and don’t play folk music in Canada, for some reason you are almost expected to play folk if you are a woman here. Just listen to CBC Radio for a day and you’ll see what I mean. I think Alanis started to change this. Michelle will always pay homage to her by being herself and not conforming to gender defined boundaries in her music and words.
For someone who has never been to Ottawa, where would you recommend they go to grab an excellent drink, a great bite to eat, and catch a live show?
Grabbing a drink is easy, Bar Lupulus. We wrote half the paragon cause songs, came up with song titles, ideas, images, artwork and setlists drinking craft beer or incredible wine at that place. It’s one of the best Beer/Wine bars in Canada. Highly recommended. Foodwise, Ottawa is famous for its Shawarma like my hometown of Halifax is famous for Donairs, so you can’t go wrong with Shawarma here, but if we had to choose, it would be Yako Tako, a real, traditional Mexican food truck. Best Mexican I’ve had outside of San Diego. As for a live show, this is where things get sad. Due to Covid, our favorite places have shut down, places like Pressed and Bar Robo, but we still have three places we love, Café Dekuf, Avante Garde and Live on Elgin.
What can fans expect to see from Paragon Cause at a live show?
We have no idea, hopefully soon. We had a lot of shows planned for 2020 at some great venues. We are working on that now. Hopefully by August for the album release.
What has been one of your most memorable shows and why?
This is not easy. I think we would have to say our Album release show at The Blacksheep Inn in Quebec. This is an iconic venue in Canada. All the biggest bands have played there. We played on an evening in the summer when it was 34 Celsius (93F) and there was no A/C. The place was packed and it was HOT. Due to noise laws, they had to close all the windows. The show was incredible, but we had to play 5 songs, then let everyone go outside for 15 minutes to cool down. It was pretty interesting to say the least!
If there were one musician you would like to collaborate with- whom would that be and why?
Trentemoller or Geoff Barrow. Both of them are icons to me. Trentemoller is probably, in our opinion, one of the most incredible producers out there. I have no idea how he makes the sounds or creates the music but I would be in awe watching him. Sometimes we listen to his music and just say, we should give up. This is just too good. Geoff Barrow is another icon, it would just be incredible to see him work.
Check out their latest single “Disconnected’ available on all streaming platforms.