Paragon Cause, Ottawa’s electro-rock duo, will be releasing a series of new singles this summer followed by an EP. The band spent the winter of 2018-2019 recording at their studio in Ottawa with garage rock legend, Sune Rose Wagner, half of the Danish/American rock duo ‘The Raveonettes.’ According to the band, recording went extremely well and they plan on releasing more music in the future. This is an interview with Michelle and Jay of Paragon Cause.
What is the plan for releasing your new music?
Jay: We have a structured release plan right now, we really want to get this music out there and we are a bit impatient, however we are doing our best to stay focused and just let the course run naturally. Right now, we are releasing a song called ‘Drop Me In,’ which we’ve been playing live for a while now on July 12, 2019. This is probably the folk-iest song we have written, but with Sune Rose’s help, we were able to make something special. When we recorded that song, it was very different than the rest of the new material we recorded, so we chose not to put that on the formal album. After that, we are releasing a rockin tune called ‘Save Me.’ This is very different from our early stuff, but its an incredible song. We can’t what for people to hear it. That will be released on August 16th. Sune challenged us to write a song like this and I think we surpassed his expectations. It’s pretty incredible. We will be giving people who come to the Black Sheep Inn on July 19th an advanced copy of Save Me on USB.
Then, we will be releasing a full EP on Sept 13th. Very very exciting. 6 songs in total.
How many songs have you recorded with Sune Rose?
Michelle: Well, we spent almost two weeks recording and finished 16 songs, 3 songs partially finished and 1 that was incredible bizzare that only the three of us know about. Who knows.
When will the rest of the songs be released?
Jay: We have no idea, but likely release 2 or 3 as singles then a full album. Some of the songs are really going to surprise people.
What is different about the new music?
Jay: We knew each other better and had more confidence in our songwritting. We had a bunch of demos, some as simple as Michelle recording one vocal line on her cell phone and me recording a guitar riff on mine. We sent a bunch to Sune and he would write little notes. We only had 2 songs that had complete demos the rest we wanted to be spontaneous.
Michelle: when Sune arrived, we had no idea what to expect. It was very natural and free. We would just play or sing something, Sune would do a little programming to get a beat and tempo and we would just go and see where the song took us. None of us had an idea what it would sound like, but we all knew we wanted to be spontaneous and just let it go. It really paid off, the music feels fresh and exciting. I think on the first album, we spent a lot of time recording and re-recording and worry about small details and the album had a laid back feel that felt a little too sterile in some cases. We love the album, but we knew we could do more. This one is very very exciting, very different. A lot more rocking tunes, which fits with our personality.
So, obviously Sune Rose Wagner Played a big role in this album, how was it working with him?
Jay: Incredible. That’s all I can say. Simply incredible. A dream come true.
Michelle: It was pure magic. We got along so well and really worked as a three piece. Although he will be credited as a producer, its like George Martin and the Beetles, Sune is the third member of Paragon Cause. It was a magical collaboration.
Jay: I think the three of us have a very similar style of expressing our creativity. We take chances, we think about the song but try to be spontaneous. We take advantage of mistakes and are open to any opinion, regardless of what they are. There was a lot of ‘try this’ and ‘try that.’ Sometimes it worked, others it didn’t but no one was ever offended.
Was it a fun experience?
Jay and Michelle: YES
What was fun about it?
Jay and Michelle: The Wine
Jay: Also almost getting kicked out of a restaurant
WHAT? We need to hear that story.
Jay: Hell No
Come on? A little of the details?
Jay: No dice. Not happening.
What styles of music can we expect, are there Raveonette’s or Sune Rose influences?
Michelle: Without a doubt, but it doesn’t sound like any of Sune’s bands because he is so creative and just wants you to be the best you can be, but obviously his sensibilities are all over the music.
Jay: We are both fans of The Raveonettes and Sune Rose, so there is influence in that respect. I’ve always loved his guitar playing and tone as well as his style of song writing, so even it if is not conscious, its there. Part of me thinks we tried to purposely NOT sound like them cause we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves or make him think we wanted to sound like him, but I think you can hear his influence both directly and indirectly. Although, there are a few songs, ones we wrote that we just were like, you can hear The Raveonettes influence.
The other side of this, is our other influences. There were times were I said, I want to do a Peter Green style of guitar strumming in this song and Sune would agree and we’d talk about that. Another song, I said to Michelle and Sune, lets record some sounds that we would hear on a DJ Premier song and all of us knew what this meant and just did it. A lot of the production was influenced by Hip Hop as much as rock music. I think we took a very hip hop approach to the production.
What do you mean by a Hip Hop style?
Jay: Well, I guess hip-hop and electronic music. We didn’t make electronic music, but the production had influences. The dynamics, the drops, etc. As for hip-hop, many of the songs we recorded guitar/vocals/piano, processed them and then used them as loops or samples. All the guitars/synths/etc were recorded by us and in some situations, used as samples. It sounds very unique.
Who did the drums on the album?
Michelle: Sune did most of it. We would play him our songs and he would start by tapping a tempo. We’d record a bit, then he would get all quiet. The first time, we thought he was writing his manager saying how we sucked. Then we realized, when he was quiet, he was working because he heard something. Than, bam, he’d say, “Listen to this” and he would have a drum beat and we could hear the song developing and then go with it. It was incredible.
What should people expect with this new music?
Jay: Something different yet recognizable. The album takes all our influences and makes a nice little package. 50’s-60’s soul, gospel, noise rock, hip-hop, blues, industrial, dreampop, movie soundtracks, psychedelic rock, pop music, everything, its all in there. We think we made it work. One of my favorite songs, I describe it as a 1950’s rock musician time travelled to the future and made a song using guitar and a computer, that’s what it sounds like. We love it.
Do you know if Sune Rose is happy with it?
Michelle: He hasn’t told us not to release, so we take that as positive!
Jay: He told me it is awesome. I am convinced he loves it, I mean, he wants to come back. That says something.
Any big shows planned?
Michelle: Yes, at the Blacksheep Inn July19th.
Last Question, what is the theme of the music?
Michelle: it is about a lot of things, but its mainly about women and some of the lingering issues we have yet to resolve. Also deeper topics regarding control, abuse and the lasting effects, the questions we ask and the response society gives. Its about dark topics, but we want it to be beautiful and fun. I guess that is another Raveonettes influence. Sune is the master at that.