We met up with Language Arts, our April Pick of the Month, at drummer/recording engineer Neil’s family cottage where the band spent time recording their eponymous debut. It was clear the band bonded over music, but were divided over their hot drink preferences. Lead singer/guitarist Kristen is a tea enthusiast, Soren (bass) and Joel (keys) are the espresso advocates. Don’t worry, they’re all on good terms. Check out our interview below!
How would you describe your fans?
Neil: Humbling with their praise, patience and comradery, and inspiring with their dedication, attention and enthusiasm. Usually our fans are talented artists themselves, who show great respect to our craft and support our spirit-quest.
What is your favourite drink to order at a cafe?
Kristen: I have never drank more than a sip of coffee due to my Peter Pan syndrome, but I would opt for a London Fog or a nice cozy herbal tea.
Neil: A John Labatt’s
Joel: A quad Americano with very little water.
Do you have a favourite coffee shop you frequent in Toronto?
Kristen: My friends have a lovely community hub called Saving Gigi. They play great records, serve artisan food/drink, and there’s always a friendly face.
Neil: The Common for caffeine, Holy Oak for friends with caffeine.
Joel: Red Eye Expression – it just opened up a few months ago near my place.
Where is your go-to place to write/create music?
Kristen: I have a little practice room in my apartment where I have been hibernating all winter, but in the summer, I like to retreat to my family cottage near Greenwich Beach on PEI, to experiment, as well.
When Language Arts gets together, we make magic at our rehearsal space that ‘The Dad’ (Neil) runs. It’s at the rehearsal factory and it now no longer smells like someone else’s drummer’s hockey bag turned drum hardware bag – YES! It has Christmas lights and a Nova Scotia flag to remind us of our roots (Neil and myself… Joel and Soren are our friendly prairie boys. Our band is really nice!)
I brought 10 new songs for us to demo at Neil’s family cottage on Melmerby Beach in Nova Scotia last winter. We did a retreat for 10 days where we lived, breathed and recorded the songs there. Everyone honed in on their parts and sounds to make it a truly coastline bungalow vibe, nostalgic for the summer sun.
Our reverb chamber was the stove pipe and the slapback between the cottages. We hung room-mics from lobster traps. The full moonlit sea with waves crashing on the beach put us onto our magical quest and Neil’s parents nourished us with insane comfort food at their house, down the way, while adopting my dog Sprout during loud days.
While there, we demoed our next album, and on our rare down-time, Joel notated Phish songs, note for note, for his tribute band, ‘The Lizards’; Soren showed us he could put one piece of spaghetti through his nose and throat and that curling is not that hard; and Neil taught us that he is an amazing recording engineer and that his young cousins are champion singers.
Is there a Language Arts song particularly suited to be playing in a cafe atmosphere?
Joel: I think most of “Wonderkind” fits the vibe, but I can picture myself finally getting the urge to ask out some cute/intimidating barista with tattoos and face piercings to the song “More than Amazing”.
Soren: “When I Leave this Town” is a great cafe jam tune!
If there was a Language Arts branded coffee blend, what would it embody?
Kristen: I know very little about coffee but if I were to blend a Language Arts tea, it would be a warm vanilla oolong with hints of walnuts, coconut and pineapple. It would have the comforts of a familiar rounded taste and aroma, a classic leaf that expands in flavor and doesn’t over power the sparkle of the fruit and the smoothness of the nuts.
Neil: I think ‘Philz Coffee’ (San Francisco), where you order a strange coffee without having the slightest clue what it’s going to taste like, but it’s the surprise you’ve been longing for and it doesn’t disappoint.
Joel: I think it would be a pretty strong and acidic espresso. Most people would like it, but it wouldn’t be for everyone and serious espresso drinkers would swear by it.
Soren: It would be subtle at first but hit with lots of flavours mid sip.
What band is currently in rotation on your iPod?
Kristen: Junip and Koscirkeln – two of the many amazing bands out of Sweden currently.
Bonobo and Jungle (UK projects that make me want to put headphones on strangers and force them to hear it, but I probably wouldn’t get my headphones back so that could get expensive…)
Also, No Joy and Hooded Fang are some amazing Canadian acts I currently enjoy.
Neil: New: Beck, and Zeus (over listen, but still love). Old: Stan Rogers
Joel: There’s a keyboard and drums album by Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana that I’ve been listening to a lot. Oh and Yeezus by Kanye West has been my favourite album to play Goldeneye for N64 to lately.
Soren: I have pretty much only been listening to John Coltrane for the past few months.
How much caffeine did you guys drink when you were finishing the album Wonderkind?
Kristen: Not any, I am too hyperactive to have much caffeine in small spaces. I prefer when people like me!
Neil: Is there caffeine in Blue?
Joel: Probably just a cup a day. Time is money in the studio and you don’t want to have too many pee breaks!
Soren: I didn’t play on the record but knowing Neil and Joel… I would say too much. I bet Kristen didn’t drink any.
For more on Language Arts and their latest album Wonderkind, visit language-arts.net!