Yesterday, LOOKOUT caught up with Devon of the Pop Winds, a Montreal-based band signed to Arbutus Records that have been making music together for just over a year. When I called, Devon was in the midst of putting together CDs for their Ontario tour with other Arbutus bands Sean Nicholas Savage and the Silly Kissers. The Pop Winds (Kyle Bennett, Austin Milne, and Devon Welsh) fuse vocals, guitar, sax (yes, a saxophone), with electronic instruments like synth and drum machines. The dreamy, almost despairing vocals are propped up by poppy electronic sounds and the unexpected rich wail of the saxophone. They've followed up their 2009 self-released EP, Understory, with their recently released full-length album, The Turquoise.
LOOKOUT: How did The Pop Winds get started?
Devon: Austin and myself were roommates at school when we first came to Montreal. Kyle and I knew each other from Uxbridge, Ontario, and he moved to Montreal, liked playing music and then we all got together.
Where does the band name the Pop Winds come from?
It’s the name of a song that Kyle had written the summer we started playing music together, the summer of 2008. I’m not sure the significance of it… I don’t think it was meant to have any specific meaning.
You’re all originally from Ontario. Do you think the Montreal vibe has influenced how you make music or how you approach making music? Would you have made the same music anywhere in the world?
We probably would’ve made the same music anywhere. How we approach music has more to do with interest and various technologies and what we were good at initially. And what we could contribute in terms of what instruments we played. The city affected the way we would approach how or where we would play or music, and how we would release it and stuff like that. The ability to put something out yourself, I guess, was probably an idea from people who were playing music in Montreal.
What are some of your musical influences?
I would say, I don’t know… When I think about that question, it’s as if it implies some conscious decision to make music in a certain way. We’re not trying to do music a certain way, and we all listen to music in different ways. Maybe any kind of music that uses the same approach.
What kind of approach?
Maybe say, like using electronic equipment, writing music that doesn’t necessarily always have a pop song structure. I don't know, that’s really broad.
Is it important to you to give out free music? Or is it something you had to do because that’s the way music is heading these days?
We sort of had to do this. After a certain point, it’s going to be easier and more effective to get people to hear your music if you give it to them for free. And it’s pretty easy to do that nowadays. I expect music to be out there for free sometime or another. A couple weeks after an album comes out, it’s everywhere on the Internet. It seems like the natural thing to do.
How has the band grown over the last year, from the release of Understory to The Turquoise? First as bandmates, but also musically?
What you would expect, we’ve gotten a lot better at writing cooperatively. We make a song less and less based off of ideas that were fully developed by one of us. Now it’s much more cooperative and more of a mutual writing experience. Musically, we’ve made more interesting songs that we’re more excited about playing.
What can readers/listeners expect from a live Pop Winds show?
We will always focus on doing the best we can for a set. And have at least some new things, new ideas, and new ways of playing specific songs. We would hope to do a performance that is engaging and makes people want to pay attention and listen attentively.
Download The Turquoise here.