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2016 Artist Survey: The Dears

Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak on 2016's Best Albums, Trump, Prince, Memorable Fan Encounters, and Fake Band Names

Feb 09, 2017 Artist Surveys 2016
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For Under the Radar‘s 14th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2016. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2016 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak of The Dears. The Montreal band’s last album, Times Infinity Volume One, came out in 2015 via Dangerbird.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about Trump and the election, 2016’s deaths, self-driving cars, Stranger Things, first kisses, scary movies they shouldn’t have seen as a child, which Friends character they are most like, and much more.

Pick up or download Under the Radar’s Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue for Artist Survey interviews with Amber Arcades, Austra, Faris Badwan of Cat’s Eyes and The Horrors, Boxed In, Caveman, The Charlatans, Cursive, Lucy Dacus, The Dears, C Duncan, Sadie Dupuis of Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, Dutch Uncles, Ezra Furman, Robyn Hitchcock, The Invisible, Justin Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories, Lost Under Heaven (LUH), Lush, Midlake, Phantogram, The Range, Springtime Carnivore, Sunflower Bean, Surfer Blood, TEEN, The Thermals, Nick Valensi of CRX and The Strokes, Jenn Wasner of Flock of Dimes and Wye Oak, and Yuck.

A shorter version of The Dears’ survey appeared in the print version of Under the Radar’s Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue, this is the full unedited version.

Top 7 Albums of 2016

Murray Lightburn: These are among the few records I’ve actually heard a few tunes or in their entirety.

Bankruptcy: For the FutureMy bruvs Benvie put this together (along with Jeff “Looch” Luciani) and it was as amazing as one would expect. Also, mixed by Adrian Popovich, who did a wonderful job.

Sam Roberts Band: TerraformThis guy is also a very old friend who never ever disappoints. Just an explosive talent who will live forever.
Tragically Hip: Man Machine Poem-Canadian old guards produced by my pals Dave Hamelin and Kevin Drew. I was quite blown away by this pairing.

Gord Downie: Secret PathLead dude for Tragically Hip made an absolutely beautiful record.

The Dears: Acoustic (1995- )I put it on this list only because I’m okay with how it turned out and want people to hear it.
Beyoncé: LemonadeI loved everything about this. I related to it so much. It’s very spiritual and perfect.
Radiohead: A Moon Shaped PoolI’ve only heard a handful of tunes from this and loved everything so far. It’s Radiohead, FFS.

2016 was regarded by many as a fairly tough and negative year. Was it also a hard year for you personally? If so, how? And also what were the high points for you?

Murray: There were a few tough times indeed. But it’s not something on which I want to focus. There is mostly a negative energy on the Internet and in the news in general-a beat-down. After recognizing the pattern I’ve made a decision to tune it out and focus on the beauty in my life and bury myself in work that is positive. So if I may impart anything on your readers it’s simply that. F**k the negatives, focus on the positives. And get the f off Facebook FFS!

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. presidential election played out?

Murray: Well, it wasn’t a big surprise but still absolutely astonishing, historic, and surreal to watch unfold. Fascinating stuff.

Let’s discuss Donald Trump. What does the rise of Trump tell you about America in 2016? What concerns you most about a Trump presidency? How do you think his presidency might personally change your life? What message do you have for those who voted for Trump? What actions will you take over the course of the next four years to either protest a Trump presidency or support it?

Murray: I’m not a U.S. citizen so it’s not even my place to really say much. The unfortunate by-product of his rise to power that’s getting played up in a topical way has only highlighted stuff I was born into as a person of color. It’s stuff I was warned about, have known, and experienced my entire life. Anyway, regarding buddy’s presidency, I reckon generally things will be okay but definitely not without incident. I’m never over the moon about traveling through parts of the U.S. anyway because I’ve always had weird times down thereexcept at shows. If I could just teleport to stage-time and teleport home after that would be great. Could someone get on that?

What reality TV star would you have rather been elected president?

Murray: No.

If you were president, what would you try to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?

Murray: Show my birth certificate?

What are your thoughts on Brexit and the future of the European Union? To what extent do you think the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump were motivated by the same factors?

Murray: If you keep hammering people with the same news stories over and over, eventually people are going to start believing them before they start acting weird. Meanwhile, these stories are a gold mine, I reckon, and so the news will keep delivering and we’ll keep clicking, LOL.

We lost three highly influential music icons in 2016. What are your thoughts on the passing of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen? And what are your favorite albums by each artist?

Murray: Well of those three, I am still heavily influenced by two of them. Prince was obviously the most shocking one because he was still on tour right to the very end. The guy worked himself to death, literally. All that overdose BS that people like to try and focus on, I’m not buying it. Nothing will ever tarnish him in my eyes and I will always love him.

What do you think Prince and Bowie’s afterlife project sounds like?

Murray: Good god, seriously?

Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.

Murray: One of the things you really learn to love about being in a D-list indie rock bandin Montrealis the anonymity. But the other day, we were out at the market in a bakery and a dude and his wife were pushing a stroller with twins and as I was smiling at them and observing their situation, he said, “Hey you’re from The Dears! Love your music.” I said, “Cool, thanks.” Aside from that it was just a couple of dudes in a bakery with their families, so not that memorable, LOL.

What band, besides your own, has the best name?

Natalia Yanchak: I am thoroughly fascinated by band names. Some great band names include Dinosaur Jr. and Com Truise (and the thematically related, Technical Kidman, also rules). Hinds, as well, is a good pick.

Astonishingly, it is amazingly easy to come up with totally unique band names. And, with the Internet, you can check your band name will not infringe on someone else’s trademark or copyright ahead of time.

However, if a band needs a name, Murray and I have come up with these:

- Sad Basil
- Part-Time Party
- Cold Banana
- Mexican Phoners
- Dinosaur Piss
- Bone Dust
- Medieval Doodles
- Regional Doritos
- Cosmic Catch
- Pizza Prototype
- Hot Lunch
- Carl Sagan’s Agenda
- Key Race Alert
- The Guest List
- Lone Wolf Tenor
- Topless PM
- Murray A. Lightburn and The Battleground States (taken)



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