Sydney musical duo Canyons are bringing live music and visual art together.
The pair will land in Brisbane next month for a special one-off performance, but don't expect to hear any tracks from albums past or future. Instead, Canyons will present '100 Million Nights' at the Gallery of Modern Art, a collaboration with Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd that combines live music and visual art.
“With us, it's not what Canyons is,” says half of the Perth-born, Sydney-based duo, Ryan Grieve (the other is Leo Thomson). “We're not going to release an album of what we'll be playing for this show. It is an art piece. It's really for the visuals and the visuals are constructed for the music as well. So we've been collaborating all the way to get it to a point where it's not just us doing our thing and Dan's not just doing his thing. We've made it all about collaboration.”
It's a collaboration that came about at Boyd's request.
“Dan contacted us, as we'd worked with him before,” Grieve says, with the show growing from experimentation on both sides. “From the work that we'd done with Dan before, we just kind of had [the visuals we were] going to begin with, then we'd just sort of start [playing] basically.” Although there's still plenty of rehearsal to be done before the show, Grieve says the live art will influence the music on the night, and vice versa.
“We wanted to leave it quite open. Just be able to enjoy it and lose yourself in it. It's quite hypnotic and almost meditative in parts as well, so you want to be able to feel it and not be stressing out. You want to just be able to immerse yourself in the moment as well.”
The show will feature Canyons as a five-piece band, with elements of traditional instrumentation (think guitars, drums, and keyboard) coupled with electronic effects.
“It's more about textures really rather than what instrument, so much,” Grieve says. “So if it's a really abrasive part, maybe there's like bass guitar happening or a little bit of rocky kind of synth.” To accompany the sound, the light and colour visuals created by Boyd's signature veil of transparent dots will appear on a stunning three-panel video screen installation.
“I'm most looking forward to hearing it all through a nice big system and seeing the visuals behind us on the big screen, and that coming into sync.”
Grieve hopes the choice of venue will bring out a previously-untapped audience.
“It's not your typical venue I guess. It's a little more special, so maybe you get people that wouldn't necessarily go out to a club to see something, or wouldn't go to the standard venues. It's a bit more of an event, and a nice place to see something live.”
Grieve encourages people to check out his previous work with Boyd, 'Dark Matter', for a taste of what to expect at ‘100 Million Nights’.
“There'll be everything from very, very sparse landscape desert-road type textures to fairly unrelenting and psychedelic frenzied drums, and guitar wailing and synth madness. Lots of light and shade and everything in between. It's hard to explain. Hopefully people react in the way that we are designing the sound and visuals to make them feel.”
Grieve says a Canyons album is now in the works, provided no more side-projects crop up. “When good things come up you don't want to say no to them, you know? It makes things a bit more interesting, keeps it more interesting when you get out of just your own world of 'we're making our album, we're doing this for us'.”
Those good things include working on a track for the latest Grand Theft Auto game, and writing music for a film.
“We do these things that can take us out of that headspace a little bit, which is always refreshing. It's like a real breath of fresh air, that sort of stuff.”
Fans can expect a more “coherent” record when the album drops — “there won't be as many styles of music, I don't think” — with single releases later this year and a finished product expected in 2014.
Canyons perform ‘100 Million Nights’ at Goma April 12.