No Joy channels the ’90s shoegaze/trip hop sweet spot on their new album

No Joy channels the ’90s shoegaze/trip hop sweet spot on their new album
Jasamine White-Gluz took her “sweet-ass time” making the new No Joy album Motherhood, the band’s first full-length release since 2015. It’s both a musical departure from the heavy brand of shoegaze they were once known for and a departure from the band’s old line-up — White-Gluz experimented with different collaborators and sounds on a series of EPs released between 2016 and 2018. “I didn’t want to do another rock band album,” she says. “It just became the thing where I was going to take the project forward and it was going to start going in a different direction.”

White-Gluz once again worked with co-producer and multi-instrumentalist Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink, Sky Ferreira, Japanese Breakfast) as well as engineer Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie) and some latter-day No Joy touring members: sound engineer Madeleine Campbell, drummer Jamie Thompson (Islands, Esmerine) and guitarist Tara McLeod (Kittie).

Prior to the release of Motherhood by Hand Drawn Dracula this Friday, Aug. 21 (and live-streamed, ticketed album launch show that night), I spoke to Jasamine White-Gluz about the sources of the new sound and the album’s theme.

Lorraine Carpenter: I’m curious about the title and motherhood as an underlying theme on the album.

Jasamine White-Gluz: It’s a theme that I was exploring both personally and with friends and family. I wrote the record over two and a half years and it was truly an exploration of all aspects of motherhood, but I don’t think I really realized it while I was writing it. There’s also something about the word that’s kind of metal.

LC: Did you have a child yourself recently?

JWG: No I haven’t but I definitely was in that stage of life where I was like, “Well, you’ve got to to decide now because soon you’re not gonna be able to do this.” It was about understanding your body going quickly from, like, “I can party all night and I’m great!” to “Well, wait a minute, you weren’t thinking about the stuff before but now you have to think about it.”

It was also about understanding that your parents are just adults, they’re just people, and thinking about my mother at my age and what she was doing. Being a mother was something that was really central to her goals and her being and she was so good at it; I related that back to how I would be so bad at it.

She wrote letters to her future kids when she was a teen and she didn’t really want me to read them. I knew they existed and I’d ask her about them before, but when I started writing this record, I said, “I kind of need those.” A lot of it is stuff like, “When I’m a parent, I’m not going to judge you for what you wear,” or “I’m not going to tell you what music you can listen to.” It’s very sweet.

LC: You mentioned the sonic and vocal experimentation you did on the EPs, and the evolution of the No Joy project from there. What influenced that experimentation, and where has it brought you?

JWG: I had done an EP with Pete Kember — Sonic Boom from Spacemen 3 — which allowed me to kind of explore more writing with synths as opposed to guitars. I tend to be kind of nostalgic, and with this album I was thinking about the time when shoegaze sort of melded into trip hop in the late ’90s. Bands were coming out that had elements of atmosphere and texture — they weren’t necessarily rock bands but they appealed to a more alternative audience. I was into Massive Attack, Tricky, Sneaker Pimps, and these bands were sometimes presented as rock live but then on the album they were very different. This album brought me to a place where I was trying to capture what I felt when I was hearing all this music, when I was in high school, and didn’t know how to categorize it. I remember hearing stuff that was very commercially accessible at the time like Fatboy Slim, and when you listen to it now, it’s kind of psychotic-sounding. I can’t believe that was on the radio and it was mainstream. It felt like there was longevity there; it felt like these artists had been doing stuff or were in it for the long-haul, not just one-hit wonders. ■

No Joy launch Motherhood via Baby TV on Friday, Aug. 21, 8 p.m., $5-$50 (sliding scale). See the details here.

For more about No Joy, please visit their Bandcamp page website.

For more Montreal music coverage, please visit our Music section.
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