By: Alexandra Rodobolski
With Toronto’s indie scene as hot as it is at the moment, it’s easy to get caught up in what’s new. Maintaining the hype and buzz around an artist can prove to be a difficult task for many, but The Darcys have conquered that feat time and time again. But this success didn’t come without a lot of hard work and dedication.
I caught up with Wes Marskell and Jason Couse after their short set and Q&A at the TIFF Bell Light box supporting the #BellLetsTalk movement and opening up the discussion around creativity and mental health. Being such a staple in the local music scene, it was refreshing to see them have a raw and intimate discussion about something that affects so many.
When the band first started to gain traction, their sound was almost a full 180º turn from what it is now. The reasoning behind such a drastic change? Jason Couse explains, “we felt like we had put in our time being this dark, depressing band making instrumental records about Cormac McCarthy novels and stuff like that. We were kind of through that phase.”
The reality for the Darcys was that the heavy material was getting to them. As Wes Marskell put it: “The art and the reality sort of molded into one thing and it was just kind of like we were in a darker place than we wanted to be every night coming off stage ‘cause you were just living these songs for like, a really long time.”
It’s hard to find fault in their choice to shift gears. Turning a hobby into a career already comes with its own set of adjustments and struggles, but consistently having to relive moments from a different part of your life is emotionally taxing. Looking at their current aesthetic and stage presence, and piecing that together with the people behind it makes so much sense.
Along with a big shift in their look and sound, the band also refined their lineup from a full five-piece outfit to a modest duo. For any other group this would take a lot of adjustment, but for the Darcy it just made sense, “It all began with the two of us learning how to record music, learning how to write songs and jam, so it kinda just felt like we were rounding the bases. We were kinda back to home plate” Couse said.
The retro synth-pop daydream vibe carries throughout all of the music that the Darcys have been releasing as of late, but it doesn’t stop there. At a live show, the songs come to life in a vision of neon, and that’s exactly how the band wants it. It’s not just about putting on a good show, it’s about creating an environment that says, “‘You can come here, it’s safe, everyone’s hopefully on board and you can just do you and be whoever you wanna be for an hour and then you can go back and ride the GO Train to your house and get up for your job the next day and whatever.”
With this past year being such a whirlwind for the band, 2019 promises to be just as exciting. In the summer of 2018, the Darcys gave a taste of their co-writing endeavours with ‘Just Here With My Friends’ featuring July Talk’s Leah Fay. The co-creative process is valuable to them, because as Jason puts it, "It’s not like you need the help writing, but when you change the chemistry in a room, it can do a lot and it can really open you up to some new things.” And on working with Fay specifically, he continues, “to work with someone as insightful and obviously musically talented, and that we trust as a friend was really great.”
So what’s next for the duo? For now, they’re living in the moment, and making music that they love, and are genuinely proud of. “I think everyone will figure it out once it’s on a record, and it’s better to be in the moment and it’s so liberating to feel excited about a song” Marskell said.
The process of coming into their own as a duo has been a learning curve, but the Darcys are excited to keep trying new things. “Over a lifetime of developing our aesthetic collectively, to realize there are a whole bunch of little pockets of things that we maybe decided we weren’t gonna try,” Couse said, “and then now kind of digging them up and uncovering them and saying ‘Oh, maybe we kinda jumped to conclusions about that, and that, and that, and maybe those are cool things that we haven’t explored yet. Let’s try them out.’”
Their writing process is pretty instantaneous these days. Couse hinted, “we’re recording a song and already planning the release before it’s been mixed. And it’s cool, because you’re like, ‘This is the mood I’m in. This is where we’re at.’” Marskell added in, “you master, and then the next day it goes to Spotify.”
It’s not totally clear when we’ll be treated to some new tunes from the Darcys, but they’re happy making songs that feel right for them. Music can capture moments so specific yet so widely understood, and that’s exactly what we can expect from the band.
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