The tale of a fallen recorder. + Imaginary Cities and James Vincent McMorrow

With every job there are casualties in the workplace. I however (naively) thought to myself – what could possibly go a-rye as a music writer? Yes – perhaps your computer can crash, carpel tunnel can ensue, you can go broke buying concert tickets BUT a drenched therefore unusable digital recorder? Gasp! I didn’t think of this one.

This has been the unfortunate fate of my Panasonic RR-US570. After my water bottle decided to loosen its lid (I swear I did it up tight) in my purse – I lifted out my recorder like a dripping sponge from the soggy abyss.

Now you’re probably saying to yourself – Torontette, get to the point. WELL. My interviews with Imaginary Cities and James Vincent McMorrow were both on this said recorder. When the realization came, my heart crumbled to the kitchen floor. These were two of my favourite interviews I have conducted to date and they were gone. Unretrievable. Resting in peace in interview heaven.

So relying on my spotty memory I’m going to attempt to highlight some of the golden nuggets I dug up during these interviews, if at the very least to pay homage to my long lost recorder. Or perhaps to spite it. Perhaps this is a little ‘up yours’ to technology. It may fail you but you will always have your memories.

Interview with Imaginary Cities

Rusty and Marti – and no these aren’t the names of the protagonists in a indie boho love story – met when Marti was playing in a Motown cover band at Winnipeg’s Cavern. They recorded one song together that Marti had already written and that turned out so well, they began writing and recording many others in tandem. The rest my friends, is history.

They say spending time on the road touring as been a blast – traveling the country doing what they do. I asked if they have any pet peeves of each other, or things that may them tick. Laughing harmoniously, Marti and Rusty say that for the most part, they get along splendidly, despite the odd brother and sister-like bicker.

You may have heard of Rusty Matyas before – he has been a part of two amazing Canadian bands, The Waking Eyes and The Weakerthans. Matyas might be a seasoned touring musician but for Marti Sarbit, this is her first time on tour. And quite a tour it is. They have been well received from coast to coast and city to city. Sarbit’s lusty and soulful vocals pair effortlessly with Matyas expert musicianship making for a serendipitous duo on stage.

They’re touring with The Pixies (awesome) right now and will be in Toronto April 19, playing a show at Massey Hall.

Interview with James Vincent McMorrow

Sitting in the front room at The Great Hall, James Vincent McMorrow on the piano bench with the rain in the window behind him, I remembered why I do this. Why I sacrifice my social hours and my sleeping ones to discover, write about and be impassioned by music.

JVM is probably one of the most unassuming musicians that I have ever met. Yes, appearance-wise he fits the bill – scruffy orange-tinged beard, striking eyes, casual yet cool clothes and a dreamy Irish accent. But he is so gracefully humble and modest. Simply refreshing after encountering many big egos in the music scene.

James makes irresistible music that someone has described much better than I ever could – “It is laced with hauntingly gracious melodies, mythical story lines, and musical structures that lend themselves to the traditional folk style that emerged in the States in the 1960s.” If I had to live a million years listening to one voice, it would be his.

His soothing demeanor, combined with his affection for Toronto, and admiration of The National won me over in leagues during our 20 minute chat. He mentioned that he’ll be back in Canada later this year. Do yourself a favor and catch him live if you can. I promise you won’t regret it.

Listen to ‘Temporary Resident’ by Imaginary Cities:

Listen to ‘If I Had a Boat’ by James Vincent McMorrow:


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