It’s interview time! This time we’ve had a little chat with Young Galaxy, a band who at the time of the interview just released their single ‘Elusive Dream’ which we enjoyed very much. They’ve released a new single in ‘Under My Wing’ and will be releasing a new album Down Time on April 6th! I’d like to say thank you to Young Galaxy for taking the time to provide A’s to our Q’s and would also like to urge you to support the band by digging their Facebook / Twitter / Instagram profiles. It’s certainly one of the more engaging interviews we’ve had on the blog so far. NOTE: I do enjoy the simple “sure” answer and the badass quote at the end. Awesome.
Hey Young Galaxy, how’s it going? Oh hi there, fine thanks – how are you? (EDITOR: I’m great, by the way)
You’ve recently released a new single in the form of ‘Elusive Dream’. What can you tell us about it? It was one of the first YG songs we’d written since the last album in 2015. We wrote it this summer at a time of particularly high world tension with the Trump/North Korea war of words escalating, the Charlottesville white nationalist rally, and we had such a palpable sense of disappointment and disbelief in humanity. The sense that we had turned a corner from all the bullshit of world wars and nationalism, racism and sexism in the 21st Century, that we were possibly evolving – and yet at that moment, and really for the entirety of this year – it’s felt like we are just squandering it completely. Like 3 steps forward, 5 steps back.
I had terrible writer’s block because my head was a noisy, desperate place from all of the issues of the world, and also from raising young kids in it. There’s so much fear everywhere, and in me more than ever. I felt I had to address it in a song somehow, but I don’t typically like overtly political music and I certainly don’t like writing songs about having kids. So I was finding it really, really tough to wade into the subject matter taking all the space in my head, to get past the superficial chatter and self-loathing that takes up most of it. Yet one afternoon, the first verse’s lyrics slipped out, and I just cried like a baby for about 10 minutes. Not necessarily because I felt like what I had written was that important per se, but more because I’d just found a way to say something personal and complicated in a simple way.
It’s noted that the song is written about tension that’s present in today’s politics and other aspects of modern society. If you could gather the masses together, what would you say to them? Men to the side please, women of the world are now in charge…
All of this must make for some good topics to write about when you’re in the studio? I don’t know. I mean, writing lyrics is really fucking weird to me now. We’ve done our fair share of it at this point, but the longer we do it, the harder it gets. There’s a certain vulgarity to it I find, a kind of innate pandering that occurs if you let down your guard for just one second. With the musical side of it, it’s so easy to get lost in these deep seams, sonically… it’s beyond language. I love it. But with lyrics, you’re always kind of watching yourself writing – the process is so much more self-aware. So I spend a lot of time trying to not look directly at the things I want to write about, if you know what I mean. If I tackle certain subjects head on, they just kind of… dissolve on me. And I’m not a kid anymore, I don’t particularly want to hear myself talking or weighing in on the pertinent issues of the day… yet it’s our fucking job and we do it because we love it and feel like maybe, just maybe, we have something someone might want to hear us say. But the process can fuck you up, for sure. It’s a reckoning of sorts with your ego, your fear of failure, how engaged or relevant you feel, all of it. The lyrics are really where that shit comes to roost.
Back in 2013 you mentioned in an interview that you found modern music to be void of risk and ambition. Do you find that to still be the case nowadays? I don’t feel that is necessarily the case now, no. I think there is some crazy shit being made now. Music production techniques are accelerating tenfold every year. People are making mind melting shit in their bedrooms just on their iPhones. It blows my mind.
I do think that too many people are allowed to make music now. The flip side of the ease with which people can produce music is over-saturation, and a glut of competent music being made. We are bombarded by musical competency daily. So to find the unique or innovative stuff can be hard. It’s really hard for a smaller act to cut through. People are tired of being told to listen, and have become used to consuming music as they would a fast food meal – quickly, and without much thought.
Now, because of big money marketing, high profile music is often conflated with critically important music, because we’re exposed to less and less music despite more and more of it getting made. Everyone is busy listening to top 40 music as if it were actually important music, even as a critic, if you don’t weigh in on Rihanna’s new album then you are culturally irrelevant. If you want to veer off of that narrative at any point and find something different to listen to, the sheer volume of music can be impossible to negotiate. And of course now due to Spotify, there are algorithms in place to insure the paths you go down are never actually random, that are being controlled by people with lots of money with vested interests in having you consume things their way. Unfortunately it’s a microcosm of society, where the top 1% control and eat up more and more space, and the rest of us are left fighting for scraps.
You guys have been around for a little while now. How has the landscape in music and society in general changed in your eyes? Do you find that you’ve been able to step back and look at it unfold in the time Young Galaxy has been around? No we haven’t taken a step back at any point, because we won’t allow ourselves to feel comfortable with what we’ve done. In our eyes, nothing we’ve done is good enough, based on our own standards. We are comfortable for the moment to keep trying to make a thing we’d truly be proud of.
The music industry is changing so constantly, and is so over-saturated with acts, that we can’t afford to stop evolving. It’s a shitty business, deeply exploitative and manipulative. The industry preys on naivety and enthusiasm. It always has and still does. I’m a firm believer in making your way in this industry on your own terms now. It took ages to feel enough confidence in our vision to do it. And I’m a workaholic, straight up. I have told myself that if I want to have a career in music, I need to have a deep hustle going constantly. Now we have a label, a radio show, a bunch of projects on the go at all times, and I can’t think of many musicians I know at this point who don’t feel the same necessity of branching out, of having many projects on the go. Everyone in the music industry needs to mutate and survive. That’s our credo.
So ‘Elusive Dream’ follows ‘Stay for Real’, can we expect to hear more new tunes from you two in the near future, a new album perhaps? Sure
How will you both celebrate the end of 2017 and the start of 2018? It’s just going to be us and our kids at home. Keeping it local and low key. We never do that.
Finally, if you could close out this interview with one final thought, what would it be? Eat the rich