24 Minutes with Derrival
Derrival. (Geoffrey Yuen photo)
Alternative local rock group Derrival blend an eclectic mix of pop, rock and electronic sounds in their long-awaited debut full-length album. Joe Leary spent 24 Minutes with singer/guitarist Adam Mah.
How long has this album been in the making?
Derrival has been a band for about eight years now which is crazy to say out loud haha. The album took about two years to make from initial songwriting to the final finished package. We spent a lot more time focusing on songwriting this go-around. In the past we would write five songs and then record an EP. For the album, we probably demoed 25 to 30 songs (half-baked to fully formed songs) and narrowed it down to twelve. We recorded the album at Echoplant in Coquitlam with our trusty producer Ryan Worsley (Said the Whale, Dear Rouge). This was our third project with him and at this point we’ve gotten to know each other’s process really well and that’s been super helpful with achieving the exact sound we wanted with this record. Ryan is like family now and isn’t afraid to push us to get a better sound and say, "That’s not good enough” instead of settling, which is great and the only way to really grow.
Is there a theme that runs throughout the record?
A strong theme throughout the record is the entertainment industry and some of the challenges that come with it. Most of it is through the lens (pun intended) of the film industry, which is funny because we aren’t in the film industry. It wasn’t really a conscious decision to do that, but by the end of songwriting, it seemed most of the songs were through that lens. Near the end of recording, we recruited an old high school friend Sarah Jeffery, who now stars as Jennifer Lopez’s daughter on the NBC cop-drama Shades of Blue. She is a super talented singer and we had her at first do some background vocals on some of our songs for the record. We had her on one particular track titled “Hollywood” and she really connected with that song, which was cool since she’s actually in the industry. We loved working with her so much that we wrote a new song for the record with a big feature from her. Stay tuned for that.
How do you feel you’ve grown or matured as artists?
I think we’ve come to appreciate pop music a lot more. For a long time there was this weird feeling of ‘uncoolness’ with liking pop music and I’m not sure when it switched for me, but now I love it - same with some other genres like R&B that I didn’t really listen to a ton but now it’s probably 60% of what I listen to.
What challenges have you faced?
The challenge of being a band in the 21st century. The internet has opened the playing field to everyone, which is both great and bad for artists. Now, there is so much noise it’s difficult to cut through. I’m not sure we’ve overcome that yet, but who knows where the music will take us. Our experience in development programs like the Peak Performance Project and the Juno Master Class have helped us demystify some things about the industry that aren’t common knowledge among a lot of bands starting out. That has helped a ton with stuff like getting funding for our album, marketing, and more.
Let’s talk about the Juno Master Class. How did that come about and what was the net gain from your perspective as a band?
Glen (lead guitarist) was working at a label in Vancouver called Boompa Records and someone at the label, I think, told Glen we should apply. We didn’t fully understand what we were getting into until we were selected for the top three. It was an amazing experience and really helped give us an accurate view of what it would take to make it as an artist in this highly competitive market. We got to work with people like Sam Roberts, Max Kerman of the Arkells, Gavin Brown (produced Metric, The Tragically Hip, Three Days Grace) and a ton of other great people in Toronto. Later in the year, we were flown out to the Junos in Calgary and got to meet some of our heroes at the gala dinner like Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire and Lights, which was super cool. Truly one of the best experiences we’ve ever had and would recommend it to any band who is thinking of applying.