Canadian Musician - May-June 2022 - Page 36

PHOTO : COURTESY OF 604 RECORDS
JOSH RAMSAY & DALLAS SMITH SHOOTING THE “ BEST OF ME ” VIDEO
Marianas Trench record , or the previously-mentioned ‘ rock singer goes solo with acoustic guitar , understated production , and rampant self-examination ,’ well , that ’ s not this . In fact , it ’ s not any one thing .
“ No ,” Ramsay says . “ It ’ s more like all of the things . I hope when people listen to this album …” Ramsay pauses and switches gears to explain , “ For example , when we released the song with Dallas Smith (‘ Best of Me ’), I don ’ t really get into reading comments , but the first day a song goes up , I will . You know , it ’ s like , ‘ I hope people like this .’ So , one person said , ‘ This sounds like a country song you ’ d have written for somebody else . What happened to Marianas ?’ I didn ’ t respond , but I laughed and thought , ‘ you ’ ve actually hit the nail on the head , just on the wrong side .’ My hope is that it doesn ’ t feel like a Marianas Trench album but does still feel like me .”
Job done . Rather than stick to one lane or even the main highway , Ramsay tossed the map out the window and made his own way , which , as you can imagine , presented some challenges . “ Just from a production standpoint , trying to take on an album where you experiment with this many genres is difficult because a lot of them I haven ’ t worked in before . There was a steep learning curve to pull that off , but I ’ m also
proud of the album partly because it was hard .”
Making a record that ’ s such a sweeping exploration of musical styles alone is impressive . Add in the collaborations with so many Canadian singers ( among them Tyler Shaw , Ria Mae , and Fefe Dobson ) and recording a full orchestra in times of social distancing … well , it ’ s a lot . Particularly , he says , arranging and tracking the orchestral parts for “ Miles and Miles .”
“ That was the most epic experience I ’ ve had working on a song . I ’ ve done other orchestral arrangements where I wanted to express a certain mood , but with that song , I really wanted to capture specific emotions and really put them into the notes . I was writing it for my dad , so it had to be epic . And the recording process for that – because of COVID – we had to do it with six people at a time in a room at the Warehouse [ Studio ].
“ One of the interesting things for me was I wasn ’ t going to send a song to anyone to potentially sing on unless I felt really confident about the song . For each song , there would be an initial version with just me singing . When people started to send tracks back , each song had its own evolution .”
Each singer , he adds , didn ’ t sing it like he did . They did it their way , “ which is exactly what they should do . So , it was like I watched the album
transform into something different – that was a really cool , unexpected part of the journey .”
Granted , given the breadth , scope , and ambitious nature of The Josh Ramsay Show , it ’ s clear that if there ’ s one thing Ramsay ’ s eminently comfortable with , it ’ s stretching out – personally and creatively – and taking on challenges along the way as a matter of course .
Still , although Ramsay writes and produces Marianas Trench albums , there ’ s a level of collaboration there that , I wonder , was something he missed while undertaking this process ? “ It was collaborative in terms of each singer bringing their own energy to it . I didn ’ t really produce anybody else ’ s vocals . All those singers are so great I don ’ t think they need a producer to direct them . I don ’ t think anyone needed that . You know , it ’ s not like Chad Kroeger needs me to be like , ‘ Hey man , can you try and sound like a rock singer ?’ He doesn ’ t need that . Everyone did their own thing and their own interpretation , so in that way , it was very collaborative .”
While Ramsay has firm ideas about what he wants , he also notes the importance of allowing other voices – instrumental or otherwise – room to play . “ I think when you ’ re doing anything creative , you always have to be open to ideas and distance yourself from ego as much as possible . When I produce other bands , let ’ s
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