Canadian artist, Asher Gould-Murtagh is like every other independent artist we speak to. Busy with a slew of projects. It’s the only way to be, really; keeping the mind occupied to blank out all the awful shit that has, and continues, to unfold in this world.
Gould-Murtagh is a part of psychedelic sun chasers, Mr. Joy, who we’ve talked about on these pages in the months gone by. Not only is he a part of this lovely ensemble, the fairy dust you hear on Mr. Joy’s recordings are courtesy of Gould-Murtagh; he producers their records, as well as helps run their label, Blob Records.
Whilst Mr. Joy ready their debut collaborative LP with Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn as Dr. Joy, Gould-Murtagh has been busy with his solo material, releasing the Jefferson Airplane-inspired And Friends EP earlier this year whilst recently dropping the excellent single, Goodbye Francine, with friends, Memory Bride.
In all honesty, I was a bit taken aback by Goodbye Francine. Not least because the title contains the name of my late wife who passed away three-and-half-years ago. Triggers evolve in the things we love the most, and here this song certainly made its mark.
All biases aside, and Goodbye Francine is a lovely song, bathed in a psychedelic haze that occupies the right side of the genre. Paisley psych this is not, and like Mr. Joy, Gould-Murtagh drenches his sounds in the sun and it’s all the better for it.
Gould-Murtagh was kind enough to take part in our 13 Questions feature.
1. So, Goodbye Francine sounds like what Animal Collective should be doing! How did the song come about?
Asher Gould-Murtagh: (Laughs) “Thanks! It really started as one of those deep summer, dog days sort of jams for me. Before Memory Bride came on board with it, it was just an instrumental. After I’d made the track I was kind of sitting on it for a long time, unsure of what to do with it. I’m really not a ‘songwriter’ I’m a lot more of a producer. Then me and Neil (Memory Bride) collaborated on another one of my tracks and I thought his vocal touches would be perfect on it, so I reached out, sent him the track and voila! He nailed it.”
2. You also released the EP And Friends earlier this year. How hard was that to collaborate with the other artists during lockdown?
AG: “It actually was sort of not hard at all! The way that the EP went was sort of born out of the early early lockdown days, just trying to have something to do and keep creative when we really couldn’t leave our houses. Same sort of idea as Goodbye Francine. A friend lent me a guitar and I came up with these five tracks, and it just seemed like a no-brainer to me to get some great musicians and friends to collaborate on them. It was very cool hearing where someone can take your idea and totally morph it into something awesome, all without really ever having been in the same room.”
3. Did you always know you were going to be a musician?
AG: “For a long time, yes, definitely. There was probably a while as a kid I wanted to do something else, but ever since I was ‘youth’ you could say… that’s been the goal. My mom had a rule for me growing up that I had to learn an instrument, it didn’t matter what, but just one. I ended up landing on drums around age nine or 10 (I’m sure the irony isn’t lost on her) and from there I just never really stopped.”
4. You wear many hats, as a part of Mr. Joy and you’re a producer, too. Did you always envisage being a part of various artistic projects?
AG: “Yeah absolutely. For me, the best part about making music, making records is collaborating. Especially starting out as a drummer, you really have to play with other people or it gets boring quick. As a producer, it’s just fun getting to realise an artist’s vision together. It’s a really cool journey you take, ultimately each leaving your mark on a piece of music.”
5. And you also have the Dr. Joy collaboration with Matt ‘Doc’ Dunn coming out, too. How did that come about?
AG: “We were introduced by a mutual friend. From there we just started going up to his place in midtown Toronto, hanging out and recording. The album developed very naturally, we really didn’t have an idea of like “this is what it’s going to be” before we started. We just tried to capture as much as possible, and use those spontaneous moments of creation as ingredients with which to start building a record.”
6. We ask a lot of artists this, what’s your take on social media?
AG: “Ha umm… hard to say. I think for a lot of people it can be an incredibly useful tool, and really changes the way you can interact with your audience. I think for some people it can really change what it means to be a ‘musician’… maybe you don’t need to put out 45 minute records, maybe the art is more about the posts and the music is contained within. Ultimately I see a lot of it as a visual medium though, and it isn’t necessarily tied to listening to an album in a traditional way. I also don’t love the idea of giving away ‘content’ to massive corporations to profit off of for free… but hey that’s a whole other story.”
7. Some fun questions now – not that it sounds like you have much time, but have you got any hobbies outside of music?
AG: “Mmm I like to cook. I’m a bit of a wine snob so I spend time reading about that. Once upon a pre-COVID time I enjoyed playing squash and skiing.”
8. When did you last make yourself do something you didn’t want to?
AG: “Honestly hard to say. I probably had to do something trivial but nothing major comes to mind.”
9. The Wire or The Sopranos?
AG: “The Wire.”
10. Tell us about music in Toronto.
AG:“Ya I mean despite the city’s best efforts it has a thriving music scene. I don’t live there anymore, but I did for about the last 10 years. It can be a really inspiring place to be. So many people are involved in making music one way or another, it can be a really cool experience just to be a part of that world and get turned on to so many different things. Any time somewhere experiences that much gentrification, that much displacement though, it becomes a very hard place for any kind of culture to survive.”
11. Name some local bands that we should be listening to?
AG: “Roy, Praises, Mother Tongues, Kali Horse, Zones… all of them really.”
12. What’s the plan for your musical projects for the rest of the year?
AG: “Producing a few records over the next little bit, on my off time working on my own tracks and maybe a new Mr. Joy album.”
13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Any last words?
AG: “Thank you!“
Asher Gould-Murtagh’s And Friends EP and new single, Goodbye Francine are out now. Purchase from Bandcamp.