A warm summer breeze, long hazy sunsets, and St.Arnaud’s new album on repeat. Released on April 29th with the charismatic opening track, ‘Cle Alum, WA’, the Canada-based artists gifts us with the perfect sentimental summer soundtrack for 2022: ‘Love And The Front Lawn’.
Produced through Fierce Panda Canada, St. Arnaud refers to his forthcoming album as, ‘one big selfie of my love life and thoughts through the past year’. Whilst the artist’s past hasn’t always been the easiest, the band pairs smart witticism and upbeat tempos to curate an atmospheric, feel-good collection of indie songs to score the warmer months.
We talk to St.Arnaud to hear more about his upcoming album and its clever interplay between sardonic humour and admirable optimism…
Let’s start from the beginning – what’s St.Arnaud’s story?
I grew up playing folk music with some friends through school, and after the sudden tragic passing of my bandmate and close friend in 2017, I knew I wasn’t ready to be done with music yet. I wanted to honour my friend, to work through all that, and be able to move on with something that was really positive in my life.
What do you hope to achieve by channelling such a positive outlook into your music? For you, what’s the purpose of St.Arnaud?
I want to travel the world with my friends! I want to (self-sustainably, someday) just focus on playing fun shows in interesting places, pay my bandmates and team well, and to keep writing songs for (and about) new friends we meet along the way. Can’t imagine anything much better than that.
What inspires the creative process of your songs?
I tend to dissect a song that I know and love when writing; hunting for themes, chord structures, witticisms… then put it all through my own machine/brain and see what it looks like! A few I always love to go back to: Jonathan Richman, Charlotte Cornfield, Bill Callahan.
One of those themes we’ve noticed in your music is self-reflection. Looking back, how have you transitioned from your previous album, ‘The Cost of Living’, to your forthcoming one, ‘Love And The Front Lawn’?
I hope that I’ve grown a bit; as a person, but really as a writer and running the project, too. I think the strongest music communicates commonplace feelings through specific lenses. I think we’re getting better at that, bit by bit. I am learning to trust and rely on my bandmates to contribute some really, really cool parts that end up making the songs just totally different and way better than I planned.
Speaking of your upcoming album, we’d love to know a few more details; Why, ‘Love And The Front Lawn’?
‘Love And The Front Lawn’, I think is a nod to everyone becoming so much more domesticated lately, whether they planned for it or not. Change of focus! Nobody could be out adventuring and talking about that sort of lifestyle, so the camera panned right around and the album became one big selfie of my love life and thoughts through the past few years.
What a great analogy! What’s the themes behind your love life and thoughts through the past years then?
I think basically it’s just saying, “here is who I am (we are) as people”, and I want that personal character to come through it. You can spend a lot of time worrying about if you’re cool enough for this or that. These songs are simply just my thoughts right now!
The album’s already released songs pair raw and transparent lyricism with an upbeat soundscape. How do you piece together the lyrics with the sound?
Haha, it’s usually intentionally raw… just how it comes out I guess! Some writers are really so, so poetic and I wish I had that skill. I’m working on it! So if it is kind of raw, it can sound too self-serious if you pair it 1:1 with the music you’re imagining would go with those lyrics. Often I am bringing that initial ‘downer’ music to the studio for pre-production and the whole thing gets a tempo and tone facelift there when others point out how playful it could be if it was upbeat.
What’s your favourite single from the album and why?
Right now, it’s ‘Loving’. I feel like I really got most of what I wanted out of it from start to finish. I’m always gonna harp on my vocal performance or lyric choice or *something*, but that one got the idea across how I wanted!
We’re looking forward to hearing your opening single, ‘Cle Elum, WA’. What can we expect from this?
‘Cle Elum’ is a little note to myself that it’s ok to circle back around and take time on a project (or a relationship). ‘Some people take a long time’ is the central idea there, and I really like that we kept the little sigh off the beginning. I think it’s a nice entry into the full album, and I hope you take at least one listen from front to back as we planned it.
Before you go, do you have any parting words of advice for other indie artists?
To keep it really short? Make a plan for whatever it is you wanna achieve, talk to others who do it, keep writing and be really, really, really patient. Look for people who have long and happy music careers and try to find out why and how that happened!