Published on November 1st, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Expwy has just released Little Hand Fighter, a luxurious yet intricate album of lo-fi bossa nova and the follow-up to his Canada Polaris Music Prize-nominated Bag of Waters LP. We fired some questions over to Matt LeGroulx, the man behind it, to find out a little bit more about his intriguing operation…
How long have you been writing, performing and recording music for?
I started playing guitar at 15, bass and drums and piano at 17, mandolin at 28 and now the violin at age 30. I started recording in high-school on a Sony TC-377 reel-to-reel machine and gradually moved on to multi-tracking. I’ve been writing since the beginning.
How would you describe your music, if pushed?
Low-quality facsimiles. I’ve always been a bad copier so when I try to write music in a given style I attempt to rip off my favourite artists in that style. But it always ends up sounding like me because I’m too lazy to truly reproduce all of the nuances of the music I’m inspired by.
Where are you based, and what do you use to record with?
I live in Montreal and record most everything in my apartment, the one exception being drums which I record at a rehearsal studio very quickly and simply. For instance, I recorded all of the drum tracks for the upcoming album in one and a half hours with two mics, and SM-58 close up on the snare and a Sennheiser MD-421 II about four feet away from the bass drum. I record everything onto my laptop into a M-Audio FastTrack Pro with Cubase 4.
Are you signed to a label? If so, how did you come to their attention?
I’m currently looking for a label to work with. I’ve talked to a couple here in Montreal but things are generally moving slowly which I find frustrating as I tend to work very quickly. Every month or two that the label thing doesn’t materialize, I complete another record. I’ve got another two albums that should be finished in the next few months and I would love for them to have a home but the rate at which these things happen leaves me feeling that they won’t.
In the meantime I’ll just keep pumping away and someday, hopefully, I’ll find a label to partner with. Going it alone is great but I’ve always loved being part of a team.
Where can we hear your music online?
I put all of my finished releases on Bandcamp but I put new tracks that I’m working on on SoundCloud to give people and idea of what the music I’m currently working on sounds like.
Which have been your most exciting gigs and/or overall moments so far?
Getting to play my music with my friends is always exciting. I owe these guys everything. My favourite gig was our first because everything held together, we managed to get through the set on two rehearsals and play with great energy. There was a good turnout and the band we were opening for, Brooklyn’s Friends, were super nice. All in all an enjoyable experience.
Got any more coming up? (Gigs, that is…)
On 29th January we’ll be launching an album (a double EP concept album where both EPs are playable simultaneously) at Casa Del Popolo in Montreal. Also, there’s a chance I’ll be at Brasserie Beaubien in Montreal on 9th November, either by myself or in some sort of band configuration.
Are there any obscure and/or up-and-coming acts that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
My friend Ian Jarvis (who plays bass in the great Canadian band Ghostkeeper) just released an amazing album under the name Chairs called The Droning of an Insect Wing. I’ve been saying, and will continue to say that it’s the best record to come out of Montreal all year:
Jack Deming makes music as Ollie North and he just released a killer EP not too long ago. His music is getting catchier yet maintaining the gauzy complexity it always possessed:
Anything that comes out on Kinnta Records sounds great and is catchy as all get out:
Finally, if you were forced to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, but were allowed to bring the entire works of five different artists along to tide you over, whose would you choose?
Carlo Gesualdo’s complete Madrigals, though I could deal with only having the 6th Book. It is music of unimaginable beauty.
Charles Ives. The original American Original. He’s the person I find personally the most inspiring. Read his Wikipedia entry to see why. He was relentless. “Putnam’s Camp, Redding Connecticut” still gives me goosebumps, The Alcotts from his 2nd Piano Sonata will draw tears and “General William Booth Enters Into Heaven” is the greatest song ever written.
Captain Beefheart taught me how to write music for guitars. As rhythmically complex as any music in the contemporary classical world. Lick My Decals Off, Baby will knock your socks off but if you can dig out the band recordings from that album minus Don’s singing you’ll really hear what’s going in the music. Dig the INSANE bass and marimba hook-up in “The Clouds Are Full of Wine Not Whiskey or Rye”.
Thelonious Monk, like a good bourbon, will instantly cheer me up no matter what dour state I may be in. The way he uses an out of tune piano in his rendition of “These Foolish Things” on Prestige is just awesome. And the tunes, oh the tunes. “Four in One”, “Little Rootie Tootie”, “Trinkle Tinkle”, they’re all great. How is it possible to be so idiosyncratic?
It’s not one artist but Brazil’s Tropicalia movement is very important to me and life without Caetano Veloso’s first album, Gilberto Gil’s Cerebro Eletronico, Gal Costa’ second album, the first Os Mutantes album, Novos Baianos’ Acabou Chorare and Ronnie Vonn’s A Maquina Voadora would not be worth living. These records combine everything I love about Brazilian music from bossa nova through the folk rhythms of Bahia to fuzzed-out psychedelicism.
Expwy, thank you.