Vancouver-based folk-rock duo Logan and Nathan knew a little bit about self-isolation before the pandemic hit, having lived separately in remote parts of Canada for a large portion of 2019. What came of it is The Happening, their brilliant new album that's due out April 24 on Edmonton’s Fallen Tree Records.
The Happening finds singer/songwriter/visual artist Logan Thackray and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Turner taking a significant step forward sonically, adding elements such as down-tempo hip-hop and Eno-esque ambience to their traditional folk foundation. The results are stunningly hypnotic, capturing the alternating feelings of discovery and disconnection they each experienced.
While Thackray was attending school on Haida Gwaii [formerly B.C.’s Queen Charlotte Islands] Turner was working in northern Quebec’s Eeyou Istchee territory, where Thackray eventually came to work as well. They both credit that nine-month period to opening up new creative doors, most clearly evident on the single Where Do We Go, which Thackray wrote while on Haida Gwaii with the input of Cree rapper Rex Smallboy.
Upon reuniting in Vancouver in June 2019, the pair immediately began crafting their new musical ideas at Turner’s home studio, emerging two months later with 10 finished tracks, aided only by Max Ley on drums, Clara Rose on violin and Jen Charters on saxophone. The common thread with the songs was an exploration of their journeys as individuals and as a couple, along with coping in our current age of multiple global crises.
The deep connection Logan and Nathan share are palpable throughout The Happening, demonstrating that sometimes the space between us isn’t as distant as we perceive. Find out more at loganandnathan.com.
First off, how are you coping with self-isolation?
Logan: The general routine of self-isolation doesn’t veer too far off of our regular schedule. We both find our home space to be our sanctuary and feel incredibly grateful that we have a safe place to self-isolate.
Nathan: Coping has come in many forms. I think that there is a general sentiment of unrest and it’s palpable whenever we go outside and interact with the world. On one hand, there is a lovely feeling of solidarity, we are all in this together, but on the other, there is an overwhelming sense of fear and unknown. Maybe it's because we are so used to controlling every detail of our day and when something like this happens we have to rely on others. The notion of interdependence runs counter to how our society is set up. I find some lightness in all of this, that there will be a restructuring of sorts. However, at this moment I’m feeling for our neighbours to the south, elders, new parents, and folks with compromised immune systems.
Logan: The duality of fear and hope is being translated into art. We are both experiencing bouts of creativity, alongside bouts of feeling like a loaf… It's just one day at a time and reminding ourselves to be grateful for what we have. Meditating, taking walks, blaming our imaginary roommate Carol for everything—sorry Carol!—and taking time to admire the beauty of the west coast every day.
It's kind of ironic that much of your new album The Happening was written while the two of you were living separately in remote parts of the country. Has that helped you deal with the current restrictions a bit better?
Logan: Totally! Living in the north gave us almost a practice run of living in isolation. There was not much to do outside of teaching so we spent a lot of time in our respective homes writing, creating and well... being alone. The tension of that time in quiet feels similar but in different ways.
What sorts of things are you doing to engage with your audience at the moment?
Nathan: Luckily we got the band together to film some live videos right before we weren’t advised to hang out anymore. We are super excited to be releasing new videos that showcase what we sound like as a band. It feels like a departure from our duo sound. We are thrilled that we have those to share before our new album The Happening comes out.
Logan: We did our first online show last week and had a blast! We were a little nervous before we streamed because we didn’t know what to expect. But it felt like we were singing songs in our living room like we do most evenings and inviting folks to come into our bubble. Felt quite tender actually. More live stream shows to come.
Nathan: It has been nice to engage through other mediums as well. We recently had the opportunity to do a podcast called No Apologies Necessary with Jenna Marteri where we talked about mental health. It was a great way to address this issue and what that looks like in a community whose main income source of connection is through music.
How has the inability to play live affected you overall?
Logan: It's been a sad few days with the realization that our album release tour will not happen. It all started when the day before every bar closed its doors our hometown show at Guilt and Co was cancelled. We had been practicing with our five-piece band and gearing up to start our album release tour in May. Slowly we are reaching out to booked house shows and venues to mostly check-in and state the obvious at this point: “See you next year?? (fingers crossed!!!)”
Nathan: Being on tour and creating person-to-person contact sustains our love for live music and also our financial survival. We are so excited to share our music online but the reality is that streaming music is just a more accessible way to listen that doesn’t generate much for us at this point in time. I suppose we are still brainstorming how to navigate uncharted waters. It’s exciting but we are definitely still figuring it out.
What do you believe the longterm effects of the pandemic will be on the music industry?
Nathan: We could see this pandemic turning live-streamed shows into a real avenue. We will see some growth and maybe it can be sustained post-pandemic. We’ve seen some folks charging ticket sales for online shows and others performing for free. We are curious to see if this will bring some light and change to artist compensation on streaming platforms.
Logan: We are optimistic that things will swing back to normal as soon as possible, and that live music will thrive again. But it’s hard not to worry about how this will affect festivals, arts organizations and venues. Are they going to be able to pick up where we left off? We are trying to stay positive and create other content to engage our fans with; with limitations, there can be creation (and) we’re excited to see what people will do with it.