When Winnipeg pop duo We Won the War formed last year, Tyler Del Pino, 27, and Ryan Cheung, 28, had already been making music together for years - they just had to give it a name. The partnership between the Fort Richmond Collegiate grads, both actively working behind the scenes in music production, writing and publishing, quickly turned into something serious, resulting in them placing other projects on the back burner.
From sending song ideas back and forth via email and adding parts through ProTools to getting together and jamming, Del Pino says the act of collaboration is incredibly rewarding, no matter how they do it.
“We’re writing hundreds of ideas, but at the end of the day you choose the path of least resistance,” he says.
Working within the pop medium, one might think the artist is simply making music to “make it” - and who doesn’t want to make it? - but Del Pino insists that it’s his honest path.
“There’s something about pop music that seems to be so prevalent in our society,” Del Pino says. “In terms of what I connect to as a writer and musician, it’s always been pop music. Even if you don’t like Katy Perry you know all her songs, and there’s something to be said for that.
“I enjoy so many genres of music. It’s not necessarily the music I make, but I’m just a fan of good songs at the end of the day. If it’s indie or metal, rap or hip hop, anything that makes me happy.”
The singer also notes that you have to work hard, no matter what type of music you’re making, because nobody is going to “discover” you in 2014.
“I used to be under the perception that I was gonna write this song and send it out in the world and everyone’s gonna do all the work for you,” he says. “The world doesn’t work like that. Not everyone’s gonna like your music, I think every artist knows that, at least if people have the opportunity to get it, that’s how you start to form a fanbase.”
Lyrically, he also speaks of tapping into as many people as possible when he sits down to write, drawing as much on personal experience as a fictional idea.
“If I can find something that I’m emotionally attached to, especially lyrics, or if Ryan’s contributing something from his own life, we try to bring it back there because you have to respect the listener,” he says. “If you can write from an emotional place, or at least appeal to somebody’s emotional side, then you can actually evoke those types of emotions and identify with the listener better.”
Getting back to basics and focusing more on the song, as opposed to the grand album idea, is what Del Pino and Cheung focus on, especially when releasing music.
“I’m feeling some ambivalence with the physical medium,” he says, mentioning the band is leaning towards a digital release platform. “I think things are moving back to how it was in the ‘50s, it’s more of a singles world. We do have an album’s worth of material ready to go. I think we’re just trying to release the best song possible.”
It all comes back to the song for Del Pino, which is the way it should be. Strip it all down and what you’ve got is someone singing a song and someone listening to it - on wax, cassette, digital, live or otherwise.
“I’m not expecting that I want you to listen to 10 songs of mine in a row, but I’d be really happy if you listened to one song for three minutes and 30 seconds, because I was able to connect with you then.”
Published in Volume 69, Number 4 of The Uniter (September 24, 2014)