A musical partnership can be an explosive thing. The consistent back forth, the give and take, the I will add this and then you add that, it is truly magical when two create souls come together for a moment in time. Each on their own productive and effective, but together they form something bigger. Such is the partnership between Canadian musician Vivek Shraya and L.A. producer/singer/songwriter Meghan Toohey. After meeting through a mutual friend (the amazing in her right) Rachel Cantu, Vivek felt compelled to contact Meghan and share his vision for his fourth independently released album, "If We're Not Talking". A partnership was formed, and Vivek was now primed to pop, or should I say become pop.
The demos that Vivek sent of that day were raw, dark, electro-rock tracks that had a few elements of straight forward pop and of course Vivek's incredible voice and catchy lyrics, but something was missing. Meghan was able to add that something, and in the process help Vivek grow into the musician, and potential superstar, he is today.
Recently, Vivek was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.
Orange Alert (OA): "If We're Not Talking" is your first album working with Meghan Toohey. How was that relationship formed and what did she bring to the album?
Vivek Shraya (VS): I "met" Meghan Toohey via Rachael Cantu who I toured with in the fall of 2005. Meg had done an amazing remix for one of Cantu's songs so I contacted her via MySpace. We started emailing back and forth about my project and I started sending her my demos, along with solo-ed vocal and guitar tracks. She would then import the tracks into her Protools and build on them, electrofying them (synths, beats, gtrs, misc). We didnt actually officially meet until 5 months into the project, when we recorded the vocals in Boston! Meghan and I work really well together and I think the record is an accurate representation of the best of our own individual skills. I had met up with / sent the demos to several producers before Meg but she just *got* it. She is a genius. The demos on their own have more of a raw electro-rock sound but she just made everything pop.
OA: I love the track "Your name", how did you come to work with Sara Quin? I see you have also worked with Tegan in the past, how far back does your relationship go with Tegan & Sara?
VS: I have known Tegan and Sara since the fall of 2003. They are amazing, inspiring and just so supportive. I have learned so much from them and it's such a thrill to watch this new record of theirs explode. Sara and I fooled around on Your Name when I was visiting Montreal in the spring of 06. She then laid down some keys and vocals and sent the track back to me. I loved the vocals so I asked her if she could redo them for the record, which she generously did, in the midst of their busy recording schedule no less. We liked what she had laid down so much we sent the track back to her and asked her to do more...and thats when the "LETS" and the "FIND" were born. Genius! They have such a great knack for interesting/poppy back up vocals. Even what Tegan did on The Alphabet (mp3). Never in a million years would I have come up with those parts! And that's precisely what's so exciting about collaborating with other artists.
OA: How do you transfer these new songs into a live performance? Also, I see you recently played LA, is there a broader tour of the states planned? Chicago?
VS: When I played in LA, Meg and I played with a full band because she is based out of there and has some connections but when I play solo its usually me and my iPod. I really want to tour more so I am working hard on it. Chicago is definitely on the list!
OA: Your recent cover of The White Stripes "7 Nation Army" (mp3) has created a lot of positive buzz. How did you and Meghan decide to cover that song? Are there any other songs that you would love to cover?
VS: I have never recorded a cover before though I tend to do live covers a lot. Meg and I talked about how fun it would be to do a cover in the vein of "If We're Not Talking" and went through a lot of potential candidates (Amy Winehouse, Arcade Fire, etc). Meg suggested Seven Nation Army and it just really lended itself to what we were going for. It's been great hearing all the postive response because you never know. The White Stripes are such a huge rock band with such a devoted following. Turning one of their biggest hits into a dance song was definitely unpredictable territory. That said, we are talking about doing an electro/dance Christmas joint in the winter sometime. Could be cheesy. Could be gold. Yet to be determined.
OA: I really enjoyed your recent remix for the Wintermitts. How do you approach a remix? Are there things that you add that make it a distinctive Vivek Shraya product?
VS: I had never actually done a remix prior to that one and really like the idea of remixing, getting into someone else's space and putting a different spin on it (kind of like a cover). Anyways, I approached them about that particular track because I always heard it a lot faster in my head. It seemed only fair that a track called "Shake it all off" would actually make you want to shake and as you can hear on the remix, I really built the song around that idea (the repitition of the "shake it"). I am not sure I have a distinctive remix style at this point but I hope to do a lot more remixing in the future.
OA: This is your fourth album, and all have been self-released. Do you have aspirations of being on record label or do you enjoy the freedom of being an independent artist?
VS: I definitely enjoy having 100% control over all areas of what I do but it would definitely be nice to have some help as far as marketing/ promotion, recording and touring are concerned. Labels, even indie labels, have the abilty to really get their artists out there and as a 100% independent artist, I am definitely a little bit more limited in certain respects.
OA: What's next for Vivek Shraya?
VS: have just started writing again, the first time in a year, so it's been good to get back into that headspace. I am also trying to plan out more shows in fall. I have been contacted by a label in Paris that has shown some interest and wants to help out with a tour out there, which would be amazing. Shot a video for Fevered in July (see the making of here) and hoping to have that out sometime soon. Just trying to keep busy and keep spreading the word.
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
VS: I suck. I dont drink coffee. But my favorite Haagen Dazs flavor is coffee...does that count?
If We're Not Talking
I Won't Envy (mp3)/Your Name/Fevered/Chemistry (mp3)/Power/NegativeOne/Scratch/If We're Not Talking/SOS
Check out the IWNT Demos:
For more information on Vivek Shraya please visit his website and also check out his myspace page. To order your copy of "If We're Not Talking" go here.