Just as things seemed to be getting bigger for Bedouin Soundclash in 2010, they slowed down before taking a long break. Reuniting a few years ago, Bedouin Soundclash finally felt they had the right songs and energy to hit the studio again and start writing. Bedouin Soundclash worked in New Orleans and Vancouver to make the album work, and soon +Mass– will find the band at their new creative peak. We caught up with Bedouin Soundclash singer and writer Jay Malinowski ahead of their North American tour to discuss their long break and New Orleans.
Northern Transmissions: Light the Horizon felt like such a big moment for Bedouin Soundclash, so what prompted you guys to go on a hiatus and what brought you all back together?
Jay Malinowski: Leading up to that last album we’d been playing seriously since 2004, and it was really closer to a decade since we started the band in 2000. At that point, creatively you have these inspiring moments and you’re making these records while you’re super motivated. But over time that’s going to fade like a flower. Light The Horizon was the darkest record we’d made and we felt like we were winding down at that point. We decided not to kick a dead horse, so I was doing other projects like writing a book and doing solo stuff. We didn’t want to come back until we were more inspired, which took seven years. We’d sent some music with these great horns, and started to realize, this is really Bedouin!
NT: What led you to record in New Orleans and what was your experience working with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band?
JM: Back in 2010, we were talking with Ben Jaffe, whose family started Preservation Hall. That was right before our break, so we wanted to do a collaborative record with them, but it wasn’t the right time for us. I was making my own record and jazz records were outside of my world. Ben is really about spreading the gospel with of New Orleans Jazz, he’s tight with Win Butler, My Morning Jacket, and tries to connect worlds that might not consider it.
So King Britt who produced our last record and +Mass-, was really tight with Ben from an old record called ‘Sister Gertrude Morgan’ where it was a house record mixed with Smithsonian recordings of this woman Sister Gertrude. King took those recordings and made house mixes under them along with Jaffe. Coming back we saw the opportunity to connect all these worlds while working with some people who had totally different approaches to music.
NT: So what led you over to Vancouver for the rest of the album?
JM: We did a month in New Orleans, and then we were just sitting on the record. I was back in Vancouver, and I was writing more songs. Part of the idea of the record is the coming together of different energies to create something bigger. I had these choir parts from work I’d done with a children’s music program, and we were lucky enough to record with the same kids, who are now adults.
NT: Looking at your album +MASS-, what’s the significance of that title?
JM: There’s always positive and negative parts to anything that make something bigger like and event, community or just people hanging out. We had so many people involved in the record, and we were trying to make all these pieces work together. It was such a cathartic moment to bring all these pieces together that it really just cleanses the soul.
NT: Jay you were also working on some solo material, how do you feel that affected your writing or desire to play with genre more?
JM: After the project I had been doing, it was pretty cerebral because everything had been transcribed, and writing a book was cerebral too. I used to be so rigid with pop before my other projects, and then something shifted where I realized I had so much space and now parameters. I wasn’t used to that. After finishing that, it was nice to make something so hopeful again and making it fit into a three minute space.
NT: After your studio hopping, I heard you’ve also been working on a studio back in Toronto, what was the impetus behind that and what plans do you have for it?
JM: One of the biggest things for us was me being in Vancouver and Eon being in Toronto while we were writing. We thought it would be a dream to hang out and work together every day. We feel grateful to do what we do all the time in life, so we wanted to make a place to do that. I made an art studio to do everything out of and we’re working on a sound system. We’re still figuring it out now though!
Words by Owen Maxwell
Bedouin Soundclash Tour Dates:
Aug. 4 – Montreal, QC – Osheaga Festival
Aug. 17 – Ottawa, ON – Hopped & Confused Music Festival
Aug. 18 – Peterborough, ON – Peterborough Music Festival
Aug. 19 – Elora, ON – Riverfest Elora
Aug. 28 – Toronto, ON – Canadian National Exhibition Bandshell
Sept. 26 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom