Montreal’sThe Luyas look back at their Polaris Music Prize-nominated Animator


After releasing Animator in 2012 through Paper Bag Records and seeing it long-listed for the Polaris Music Prize the following year, Montreal experimental indie band The Luyas is starting to think about taking its next step.

“We did a lot of really cool tours and we had a lot of fun times,” says vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Jessie Stein. “It wasn’t the craziest busy year we’ve ever had, but it was a good one.” 

“I think my favourite place we toured through in 2013 was probably Hull, Quebec because we just had a really special show there. It was at a really D.I.Y. venue. A bunch of kids came out from everywhere and it was also on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day which is a big deal for people in Quebec.”

The band formed in 2006, comprised of Pietro Amato, Mathieu Charbonneau, Bucky Wheaton and Sarah Neufeld, musicians who also have associations with other Montreal indie acts such as Bell Orchestre, Arcade Fire and Miracle Fortress.

The Luyas’ third full-length record, Animator, was recorded at the Treatment Room in Montreal by the band’s experimental brass player Amato and mixed by Jace Lasek from the Besnard Lakes at Breakglass Studios. Its overall theme was inspired by a close friend’s sudden death.

“It definitely happened, it’s definitely really sad and it definitely inspired how the performances came out on the record,” Stein says. “I feel closer to some of the songs and further away from others, but overall I’m still really proud of that record and it’s a place to start for our next one.”

The band uses lots of instruments throughout that are fairly recognizable such as the guitar, drums, French horn and keyboards. But Stein also plays an instrument called the Moodswinger, which was invented by a Dutch string musician named Yuri Landman and helps the band live up to its experimental label.

“It’s basically a 12 string, three bridge overtone zither that sort of looks like a mutant guitar and it has really inspiring qualities that help us write our songs,” she says. “We pull it out and use it at every show that we play too.”

After this current tour, Stein says the band will start making the follow-up to Animator a reality.

“Sometimes it can be deceiving when a record comes out and when it was made,” Stein says. “I don’t think we’re taking that much longer with our follow-up to Animator, we just take whatever time it needs and you can’t underestimate the power of taking your time. You need to find the careful balance of taking your time and seizing the day.

“We probably won’t hit the studio just yet because we still have a lot of writing and exploring to do, but we will end up in the studio eventually, probably before we end up touring through Winnipeg again.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 8, 2014)

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