By: Kat Harlton
Photo Credit: Mackenzie Cholowski
Straight from the suburbs of Vancouver (Port Coquitlam, to be precise) indie rockers Royal Oak have announced the release of their new EP, Pretend on July 20th. Royal Oak will celebrate the new EP with a release show at The Biltmore in Vancouver on July 27th and are kicking off a Canadian Tour on August 8th.
We had the opportunity to catch up with lead vocalist Austin Ledyard to discuss songwriting, inspiration and what’s next.
Kat: Could you talk about the inspiration behind your latest album “Pretend”?
AL: The whole process for “Pretend” started when we came off of tour last year after the release of our previous record, “Younger”. We felt really inspired to write something new and really challenge ourselves. So we set a deadline of sorts for ourselves: let’s see what we can write in the next few months and try to put out an EP within a year. We ended up writing about 8 songs in just a couple months; the ideas just kept on coming. It was very refreshing to not think about things too much, as it took 2 1/2 years between our first record and “Younger”. The demo process was very minimal and most of the songs wrote themselves very quickly. That – along with the new environment we recorded in at Echoplant Sound Studios – just made the process feel new again. I don’t think I would’ve had it any other way.
Kat: What is your songwriting process like?
AL: Normally a song comes together one of 2 ways: either someone brings an idea to the table and we flesh it out as a group, or we come up with a song by jamming. In the age where a lot of songs are written on laptops (not that I’m against it, we all do it nowadays and we should embrace new technology), maybe it’s a little old fashioned of us to write that way. But I feel it really captures the energy of what we’re feeling at the time: excitement, passion for creativity, and the energy of us all being in a room playing together. It’s how we’ve always written together, and will probably stay that way for some time.
Kat: Could you speak a little on your musical idols or role models?
AL: For me personally, I’ve always admired artists that have done things a little differently. On the same note, I’ve really developed more of a pop sensibility over the recent years, which I’ve come to embrace. So I guess my favourite artists are ones that would lie in the area where they can forge their own paths and still find success. One of the first ones that come into mind is Jon Bellion. Guy throws hooks like it’s his day job (which it actually is), but all his beats are so in the pocket and groovy. He’s always done his own thing, even making his own albums, and I’ve always respected his artistry. Another role model that comes to mind for me is Cayne McKenzie, from a Vancouver band called We Are The City. He’s insanely creative with everything he touches, including songwriting, and he uses some very unique and inventive synth patches in the music he makes. He’s actually the reason I decided to learn keyboards, he made it sound too interesting that I just had to dive in! There are obviously more people I could list, because I’m inspired by so many people, whether it’s everything they do, or just the smallest tidbit that I can pick up on. So realistically, this list could go on forever. But I think I’ll leave it at that.
Kat: Have you ever been given any advice in regard to your music career that you felt you really connected with or made an impact? Or do you have any advice that you think would be useful to new artists?
AL: The best advice I can think of wasn’t exactly given to me personally, but I’ve always heard it a lot. Put simply, it’s “If you want to do it, do it 100% and nothing less”. I use “it” rather than “music” because I feel this obviously applies in so many different ways and scenarios. Why stop it at just music? If it’s something you’re passionate about and you can’t see yourself doing anything else, then you give it your all. That’s it, no exceptions. In a musical case, I’d put it like this: Write as many songs as you can. You can write a song about writing a song if you can’t think of anything, but you won’t get anywhere with if you don’t write anything. Soak up everything you can like a sponge. There’s so much to learn and everyone’s still learning. Ask as many questions as you can. Everyone makes mistakes, so learn from the ones before you so that you don’t have to make them, and then make your own so people can learn from those. It’s a never ending cycle. Lastly, just make sure to stay hungry. The minute you’re comfortable is the moment you’re losing out. There’s always more. I’ll keep what “more” is as a general statement because it should apply to everything. More songs, more opportunities, more things to learn, more knowledge to apply to what you do.
At the end of the day, I’m not in a crazy big band. There’s still so much more out there for me to learn. But I’ll try to pick up as much as I can as I make my way through the industry just like everyone else. I’m sure my answer will be different in a few months, but I think the sentiments will remain largely the same.
Kat: What can your fans expect for your upcoming tour?
AL: Wow, I am so excited about our tour. We’ve really revamped our live show into something I’m very proud of. I’ve had the chance to take on a little more of a lead singer role for this tour, which is pretty exciting to me. Not having to play an instrument for every song is a very refreshing concept, since for all of our previous live shows I’ve been playing either guitar or keys. The interaction I can have with the crowd and even my own band members now is different and it feels great to express myself in a new way. The rest of the guys in the band are super excited as well; we get to share our new music on a national scale and that’s an amazing feeling. We’ve taken our new songs and tried to put a bit of a spin on each one, as we believe that when you come to a live show, you want to hear the song live. You come for a show! If you just wanted to hear the songs as they are, you could stay home and listen to it yourself. Studio and stage have always been separate entities for me, and we think it’s important to treat it that way. Regardless, we make sure to leave ourselves on stage with every show we play, so I can guarantee energy and a lot of fun. Who knows, maybe action? Romance?? Every show’s different, so who knows what will happen. But that’s the best part: Nothing stays the same.
For more Royal Oak visit: https://www.royaloakofficial.com