2017 Artist Survey: Living Hour

Gil Carroll, Sam Sarty, and Adam Soloway on #MeToo and Sexual Harassment, Trump, Too Many Music Festivals, and End of the World

Mar 14, 2018 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 15th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2017 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Gil Carroll, Sam Sarty, and Adam "Solly" Soloway of Living Hour. The Canadian band's self-titled debut album came out in 2016 via Lefse. Earlier this month the band also released a covers EP, Lovely, Lonely: A Collection of Covers For Hollow Hearts. It includes covers of songs by Nico, Avi Buffalo, The Ink Spots, and Françoise Hardy.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the various sexual harassment and assault allegations, the "Me Too" movement, the chaotic first year of Donald Trump's presidency, the Charlottesville alt-right rally and racism in America, embarrassing moments, professional regrets, which Breakfast Club character they are most like, the end of the world, and much more.

Top 10 Albums released in 2017

Sam Sarty: 

1. Perfume Genius: No Shape
2. Hello Shark: Break Arms
3. Big Thief: Capacity
4. Moses Sumney: Aromanticism
5. Princess Nokia: 1992 Deluxe
6. Lomelda: Thx
7. Noveller: A Pink Sunset For No One
8. Florist: If Blue Could Be Happiness
9. Ravyn Lenae: Midnight Moonlight
10. Men I Trust: You Deserve This
 
Gil Carroll:
 
1. Friendship: Shock Out of Season
2. Girlpool: Powerplant
3. Vagabon: Infinite Worlds
4. (Sandy) Alex G: Rocket
5. 4th Curtis: I Won the Pageant
6. Sufjan Stevens: The Greatest Gift
7. Moses Sumney: Aromantacism
8. Perfume Genius: No Shape
9. Soccer Mommy: Collection
10. Molly Burch: Please Be Mine
 
Adam "Solly" Soloway
 
1. Mount Eerie: A Crow Looked At Me
2. (Sandy) Alex G: Rocket
3. Corridor: Supermercado
4. Dent May: Across The Multiverse
5. Hello Shark: In Montreal Canyons
6. Lomelda: Thx
7. Molly Burch: Please Be Mine
8. Pile: A Hairshirt of Purpose
9. Palm: Shadow Expert EP
10. Perfume Genius: No Shape

What was the highlight of 2017 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point? 

Sam: A high point was the summer for sure, feeling sun and starting a new band playing festivals and going to them, feeling grimy and going swimming.

Solly: High: Honestly SXSW was awesome. If you can get over the crowd anxiety and see a bunch of shows, it's worth it. To be able to walk past Big Thief and Priests on your way to see The Drums is fucked. Low: I broke my foot on our fall tour and had to play the rest of the shows sitting down. It wasn't even a good story. I was restless from driving in the van all day and was trying to do parkour at a gas station in Pennsylvania.

Gil: SWSW 2017 was super awesome and fun for us. We got to play with some amazing bands like Jay Som, Vagabon, and Teen Daze. Recording our new album in Winnipeg was a highlight for the band as well. We recorded with Kurt Feldman and he was wonderful to work with. He showed me a bunch of amazing bands that I had never heard of which was really inspiring and influenced how I heard and understood our new songs.

2017 saw sexual harassment and assault allegations against many men in the music industry, film industry, journalism, politics, and elsewhere (including Harvey Weinstein, Matt Mondanile of Ducktails and Real Estate, Brand New's Jesse Lacey, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Democratic Senator Al Franken, and others). Why do you think the floodgates opened in 2017 and do you think any meaningful change will come from it or will sexual harassment and assaults continue to be prevalent in certain industries?

Sam: I'm grateful mainstream media and social platforms have brought sexual harassment to the forefront of conversation. It's crucial we listen to people who have been assaulted and who bring their stories forward. I think this type of conversation is happening in 2017 because of a more interconnected communication online. It's good to see a dialogue around this. It cannot and will not be tolerated. And yes, abusers are being called out, but they must also be held accountable for their actions. I'm sick and tired of women having to do the brunt of this work. Men have to do better if they want to share these industries with us.

Gil: Some meaningful change has already come from it, and hopefully a lot more change can come. It is a slow process but there has definitely been a shift in understanding and awareness of the prevalence of harassment and assault in these industries and how it's not okay to accept it or to continue to celebrate abusers because they happen to be famous. I feel that the floodgates opened in 2017 due to Trump being elected, people have been forced to be more politically engaged, you can't sit out politics anymore. Another reason is that a lot of people are reading the news they see on their social media feeds so people who generally wouldn't be reading the news or keeping up with politics have these stories and news in front of them now. It's been a really powerful thing to see so many people standing up against harassment and sexism in these industries and hopefully this will be the start of a real cultural shift and a growing level of respect and professionalism towards all people and creating more opportunities and platforms for marginalized groups in the music industry to amplify their voices.

Solly: It's become more of a mainstream thought in 2017 and has been consuming the media as of late, so there's more of a culture of believing and supporting victims. Call-out-culture in DIY music scenes has been really effective on a micro level, too. My hope is that the support will grow and that powerful white dudes will learn from other powerful white dudes' mistakes.

In 2017 the "Me Too" and "It Was Me" social media hashtags further brought sexual assault and harassment to light. Have you ever been the victim of harassment or assault, or witnessed such behavior, or been the perpetrator? And what concrete steps can be taken to combat sexual harassment and assault in the music industry and make it a more welcoming place for women?

Sam: The "Me Too" social media wave was a rough couple of weeks for people in my life, including myself. It was a great catalyst to keeping sexual assault in conversation on social media, but should also be acknowledged that it was a huge trigger for a lot of folks.

Gil: Hiring more women, non-binary folks, POC, and LGBTQ* people is one step if you want to expect change to happen, give them more opportunities, and have more of these folks around at every level. The music industry should offer more capacity building for these marginalized groups as well.

It has been said that 2016 was the year your favorite artist died, and, because of the litany of sex scandals, 2017 is the year that your favorite artist became dead to you. Which artist did you stop being a fan of this year? Which public person would you be most devastated to learn had a history of abusive or predatory behavior? 

Solly: I loved Ducktails so hearing about Matt Mondanile sucked. I can't listen to them any more.

Sam: I don't like imagining people to be predators or not. It's harmful to the legitimacy of real accusations of assault.

Gil: I always find it really disappointing and confusing to be at a party or a wedding or something and people are dancing up a storm to R. Kelly.

Should we be able to separate an artist's work from his or her actions? Or should an artist's negative behaviors completely negate the quality of his or her work? 

Solly: We should hold everyone accountable for their actions. Especially artists and people in power.

Sam: "Negative behavior" is a very general term. If we're talking not paying a parking ticket as a "negative behavior." That's something I can accept as a reasonable "negative behavior" and I'll still interact with their work. But if by "negative behavior" you're talking about a person sexually assaulting another person then I think that "negative behavior" is a demeaning term and totally distracts from the gravity of this type of abuse. And no, I won't support or interact with art that is produced by an abuser. That person is toxic and that toxicity will seep into everything they do. So why would I invite, or condone, this type of negativity and entitlement. If an artist abuses someone, and we still interact with this artist's art, we are complicit to their actions, and there are no consequences. We are saying the artist is above abuse. I will not interact with an abusive person, especially their art.

Gil: I think it depends. An artist's behaviors should definitely be a part of the discussion attached to their work so people can make their own decisions on if they want to support this person. I believe in opportunities for rehabilitation and giving people the chance to change so I don't think there can be a singular narrative on this. If an artist just completely ignores allegations or have not done anything to rehabilitate and educate themselves then it is not worth exploring their art. There is a ton of amazing art being made by good people to check out.

The first year of the Trump administration has been chaotic to say the least. What has President Donald Trump done so far that most concerns or angers you? Is there anything President Trump has done, proposed, or said that you actually agree with? Why do you think his base continues to support him?

Sam: Everything he's done is enraging.

Gil: His base continues to support him because they believe him.

Many predicted President Donald Trump wouldn't last long in the White House and yet he's still there. At this point how hopeful are you that he'll be impeached? Barring that, how optimistic are you that he won't win reelection? And although it's still very early, is there already a potential candidate you would most like to see run for president in 2020?

Sam: As a Canadian looking in, there is nothing productive about this presidency. I don't even think he's ever wanted this job. Not really. Watch, there will be a "health condition" that will come up on their end, allowing him to step down scotch free. It's disgusting. As far as reelection goes, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, please, please, please, for someone that's not this.

Solly: I'm not sure the logistics of impeachment, but that'd be nice. I don't think he'll win reelection. Roy Moore losing the Alabama senate is a good example of how a weak leader can impact support for the party. But they did elect Trump, so...

The alt-right/neo-Nazi/KKK rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the ensuing violence, and President Trump's reluctance to condemn such hate groups further showed that racism is alive and well in America. What concrete steps can we take to improve race relations in America and the world at large?

Gil: We need less isolation between communities and for people to know each other on a deeper level.

Sam: I couldn't believe what I was seeing on the news when this was happening, but then again, I could. America elected Trump. This nightmare of a year is real. Racism is real, and the president wouldn't address it. People all over the country are fighting for equality, and when it comes to race, it's so frustrating to see this shit happening, still. As far as concrete steps go, we need to have the voices of affected groups at the forefront. And there needs to be a call for legislation reform on how hate groups like this can still exist.

2017 saw several music festivals cancelled due to low ticket sales (not to mention the Fyre Festival debacle in the Bahamas). Are there too many music festivals right now?

Sam: There are a lot for sure. But I don't think there are too many. It's nice having options with what experience you want to have. Going to festivals is a privilege as it is, and sometimes unfeasible. I think it's important to have smaller festivals with maybe 200 people milling about instead of 30,000. And maybe tickets are $20 instead of $500. I also appreciate going to a festival where I'll be spending three days enjoying a full lineup of groups I'm into. Having music spread out and find space is nice too.

Gil: We haven't played many big festivals, so for now, I am down for as many festivals as possible. They bring people together and allow amazing artists to perform in front of big crowds with professional sound. I think for bands, having a lot of festivals is a good thing.

Solly: Yeah, probably. Some bigger/niche markets can handle it, but some are definitely oversaturated. In Winnipeg we have a bunch of really small festivals which are great and unique. Gil and I host one :). A festival from Edmonton called Interstellar Rodeo tried hosting a festival in Winnipeg but it only lasted three years. Too much competition for an 800,000 population city!

Which Breakfast Club character are you most like and why?

Sam: I've honestly only seen this movie once maybe twice, but I'm getting a fuzzy memory of a denim jacket, I'm that one.

Tell us about the best and worst dates you've ever been on.

Solly: What is a date?

What's the most embarrassing (or funniest) thing that's happened to you in front of your bandmates (or on stage)?

Gil: I had "an episode" in Columbus on our first ever U.S. tour when nobody was at our show and I swung my guitar above my head and shouted into the air. It was very out of character and quite awkward.

If you heard that the world was ending in one week who would be the first person you'd call and what are some of the things you'd do in that week?

Sam: I'd get all of my people into a room and we'd all go to a different look out point each day, throwing whatever we needed to off the edge.

Solly: I'd call Choch, smoke a carton of cigarettes, and go to Bali to surf all week.

Gil: I'd call Andrea. I'd be down to do whatever she wanted but I would just want to listen to Stars of the Lid and see family and friends

Would you be open to having your phone and other technology implanted into your body in the future?

Sam: Ya, maybe if I could climb really fast or something.

Solly: If everyone else is doing it I'd be silly not to.

If you could time travel what advice would you give to your childhood or teenage self?

Sam: You are so so brave and I love that you wear ski pants to school. And stop watching CSI Miami/NY although it's a fantastic waste of time.

Gil: Keep up with those piano lessons.

Solly: Study less, learn multiple languages and play more instruments.

A 2017 Wall Street Journal article pointed out that music critics have been giving less and less full on negative reviews of late. In the era of streaming when almost any album can be easily accessed, do you still find value in music criticism and have music critics gotten too soft? 

Gil: I feel like full on negative reviews are never really necessary unless the band is already quite famous or influential. There are so many bands that deserve good reviews and exposure, so it seems like a waste of time to write a bad review for a band when you could be writing about how great some other band is. I also think album reviews hold less weight now that anyone could start a music blog and start reviewing albumswhen everyone thinks they are an expert, the overall impact of reviews go down.

Solly: I think maybe with so many blogs out there now, reviewers are all fighting to be the premiere tastemakers, so why focus on reviewing some random shitty album when you can be the blog to "break" a band?

Who most influenced your musical tastes as a child and teenager (be it a family member, friend, teacher, etc.) and what do they think of the music you make now?

Solly: My brother Tyler. And Gil and Choch. My brother says he likes it but he kinda has to. Gil and Choch better like it or we have a serious problem.

Gil: My oldest sister Samara who introduced me to a bunch of great stuff that she discovered through her cool friends. I think they like my music now!

Besides the environment and global warming, what most worries you about the future of this planet and the world we're leaving to our kids and grandkids?

Sam: AI.

Gil: Hate, hunger, cycles of violence, and poverty.

Solly: The disintegration of human contact from the growing use of technology. Instagram. It keeps humans in bed and away from other humans and it's only going to get worse.

www.livinghourband.com

 

 

 

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