As Good Lovelies continue to prep their new album Shapeshifters for an early February 2018 release, we chatted with the charming Canadian indie-folk trio for our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One. During our interview, we discuss the new sonic additions to their harmony-rich songwriting talents, how some of the most adventurous songs on Shapeshifters came to be, how they are connecting with their fans through their PledgeMusic campaign, and much more!
NoiseTrade: The songwriting on your brand new album Shapeshifters adds some new sonic elements to your calling-card three-part harmonies and inventive vocal interplay. What inspired these new creative choices and were there any specific artists or songs that you all used as touch points?
Good Lovelies: We listen to such a broad spectrum of music between the three of us that we were bound to start adding new sounds eventually. Spending a total of four weeks isolated in a studio in the woods with all the bells and whistles at our fingertips allowed us to dive in and explore synths, keyboards, percussion, and horns in a way that we haven’t been able to do in the past. There were many artists used as touch points. I think every single song had its own reference. Names that came up include Beck, Idaho, Beach Boys, Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac, Laura Veirs, and The Beatles to name a few.
NT: Tell us about the writing and recording of the first single “I See Gold” and how its lyrics gave the album its title.
Good Lovelies: “I See Gold” was written with one of our favorite Toronto writers Robyn Dell’Unto. She and Caroline Brooks wrote this song in the dark days of winter and put together the demo that same day. It evolved with the help of Kerri Ough, Sue Passmore, and our producer Dan Ledwell. We decided to record the song with acoustic instruments to reflect our sound, but maintained the new pop feel of the song. It’s a new direction for us, and we’re really excited about it.
“I See Gold” is a song that explores the challenges of getting through everyday life. “You don’t get more than you can take” has become a bit of a mantra for us over the last few year as we’ve all been wading through some heavy “life” stuff. The song helps remind us that if we can all take heart and believe that change is possible (and coming) it makes the dark a bit lighter.
“We are the Heavy Lifters/We are the Shapeshifters” was a lyric that came to Caroline as she thought about her role as mother/partner/musician/business owner. In a sense, we are all more than just one thing, and need to be open to change in order to support ourselves and those who depend on us. It made perfect sense for us to title the album Shapeshifters.
NT: “I Had A Dream” is another new song that really showcases the new adventurous side of the band’s songwriting, especially in the groove and percussion. How did the track come together and how much did it evolve from the first draft to the recorded track?
Good Lovelies: “I Had A Dream” was written on the ukulele – much cuter than its final version! Through the direction of our producer, Daniel Ledwell, it went deeper into a ’70s groove as the ukulele was absorbed into the soundscape of the chorus. We love how Kyle and Michael put down such a great groove to work with and how the wall of vocal tracks recorded actually gave it a softness. It was a fun world to explore.
NT: As songwriters and vocalists, how do your songs take shape lyrically and vocally? Do you individually bring songs to the group fully realized or are they collaborative creations?
Good Lovelies: Lyrically, it’s a mix. Some songs come fully realized and some require more collaboration, but I’d say that most of this collection of songs got some collaborative input. Vocals were a collaborative effort, top to bottom. We play a lot with ideas, going into the booth one or two at a time and improvising ideas. We actually broke Dan’s record for “most vocal tracks recorded”! Writing interesting vocal parts is important to us. There are so many unique options out there, so we dig around until the most satisfying parts come to the surface.
NT: Tell us about the experience of partnering with your fans via your PledgeMusic campaign for Shapeshifters. What drove that decision and how has it been to bring your audience during the pre-release stages of an album?
Good Lovelies: We have done pre-order campaigns for several releases, but always off-stage at shows. PledgeMusic has been a great resource for others and we find they are a great fit for us as well. Running the campaign this way is allowing us to offer a pre-order to those we can’t reach in person. We also get the chance to preview the artwork, offer up some fun things to our audience that won’t go onto the merch table (like test pressings of vinyl and handwritten lyrics). Pledgers also get an inside look at the recording process through behind the scenes photos and videos from in studio. It’s a much more complete package than we’ve been able to offer in the past.
NT: Finally, I know that Christmas music has been an interesting continued presence in the Good Lovelies story. With the holidays right around the corner, what are some of the band’s go-to Christmas albums from other artists that are must-listens for the holidays?
Good Lovelies: Great question! Christmas music can be really tedious for some because the same albums are overplayed year after year. Luckily, we’ve discovered some fun albums over time and some of the must-listens are:
The Mills Brothers – Merry Christmas
Leon Redbone – Christmas Island
Bruce Cockburn – Christmas
The Andrews Sisters – A Merry Christmas
Vince Guaraldi – Charlie Brown Christmas
Bob Dylan – Christmas in the Heart
Oh…and let’s not forget: Good Lovelies – Under the Mistletoe!!!