Interview: Majical Cloudz

Published in 

Drum Media (WA) | 20.06.13 | Issue # 343

Published in Time Off (QLD) | 19.06.13 | Issue # 1632

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A CHANCE OF RAIN

Only a few years ago, Devon Welsh was sitting in his parents’ basement writing songs on his computer. Daniel Cribb gets the rundown on the evolution into Majical Cloudz, an act that often incites tears in audiences worldwide.

The subject in question in the title of Majical Cloudz’s sophomore record, Impersonator, is singer-songwriter Devon Welsh. After graduating college with a degree in religious studies a few years ago, the Toronto resident found himself in somewhat of a rut. He spent countless hours in his parents’ basement writing song after song, most of which now sit forgotten on harddrives somewhere. There was no denying he was creative enough to brand himself a musician, but without fame or riches, he felt the title wouldn’t be justified. He didn’t quite know who he was or where he was headed, so he kept writing, as a way to articulate his angst.

It wasn’t long before the tunes took on a life of their own via Majical Cloudz’s debut record, II, and ripped him out of his creative dungeon.

“With that album, II, it was when this project was kind of more of a recording project and I didn’t play live and I was just sort of experimenting with different styles of songwriting and different ways of approaching music,” Welsh says, with a map of Australia in front of him as he tries to pinpoint Perth. Unfortunately he’s not sketching out an Australian tour – although says the pair hope to venture Down Under early 2014.

“After that I had some pretty specific ideas of what I wanted to do and that’s when I started working on the songs that turned into this recent album, Impersonator, and so I guess in a lot of ways this album is kind of a debut in the sense that it comes from a totally different process and a totally different understanding of what I wanted to do, and it was the beginning of Majical Cloudz as a full band, and as a live project where performance was important, whereas in the past it had just sort of been a hobby, recording project.”

To describe Welsh’s lyrics as brutally honest would be an understatement. When he was experimenting with different recording techniques and ways of writing music, he discovered the perfect platform to best articulate his emotions.

“I had recorded a lot of music with a guitar and that was sort of what I was primarily used to writing music on. I got kind of tired of that, and I wanted to make music where it would be possible for me to just sing and not have to play anything live,” he says.

“Using synthesizers in the format of using loops and taking that approach appealed to me because it allowed for things to be even more minimal then they would be if you were using a guitar, because using a guitar sort of sets a limit on the songwriting process…you can have as many chords as you want and changes whenever you want, but when you’re just working with something as minimal as a set of chord changes that loops over and over again you’re sort of left to work with the vocal melodies as the intriguing part of the song, instead of the chord changes.”

Things have become so emotional at recent gigs that he’s looked out into the crowd and seen tears in the eyes of fans. “It’s started to happen with more frequency as people get more familiar with the songs, and I think it’s cool…I realised early on that it’s not about us – that was the difficult thing to figure out for me when someone would be crying in the audience – normally when you see someone crying and they’re with you, it’s because you know them really well and you’re on intimate enough terms with them that that would even take place around you, but in that case, I usually don’t know that person at all, and then the thing to realise is that it’s not about me, it’s about their own personal experiences that the music is allowing them to tap into in some way.”

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