Gayngs | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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A Soft-Rock Summit

Apr 03, 2010 Issue #31 - Spring 2010 - Joanna Newsom Bookmark and Share

Sometimes inspiration has to doggedly chip away at those who refuse its presence until the light bulb finally brightens. For Ryan Olson of Gayngs, his slow-burning epiphany came through a daily dose of guilty pleasures. “I had been waking up to this soft-rock radio station for, like, two years or something straight,” says Olson. “I’d initially wake up and instantly freak out.”

“Slowly…a good jam would come on,” Olson continues, “and I’d go, ‘Wait a second. I kinda like this song,’ and then I’d go back to sleep, be late for work. And eventually it’d be what I would listen to in the car. One night at practice I thought, ‘Dude, we can totally do this.’ We just basically set this rule, like, all the songs be 69 BPM.”

Olson had been logging time with a wide variety of Minneapolis bands, moving between hardcore, rap, and electro-pop, when the concept for Gayngs began falling into place. Zack Coulter and Adam Hurlburt of Solid Gold had made plans to work with Olson, and as the three core Gayngs members, they began reaching out to get friends involved in the making of Gayngs’ debut album Relayted.

“I don’t think I told them what the hell was going on,” Olson recalls. “Maybe I did. If I did, I just told them that every song is 69 BPM. You’ve just got to come over here and jerk off on these tracks and then we’ll deal with it.”

Over 25 musicians answered the call, including Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Mike Noyce, Rhymesayers rapper P.O.S., and members of Megafaun and The Rosebuds. Olson saw Vernon as the perfect candidate to mix this type of album, and the project stretched over a year as the core group matched up periodically with Vernon’s busy schedule.

One song in particular drove Olson’s imagination and served as a template for Relayted: 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love.” Its dreamy layers of overdubbed voices were unlike anything else on the radio in 1975, and for Olson, it seemed just as startling in 2009. He played it on repeat for a month.

“That song’s just amazing, because it takes, like, three minutes before the bridge comes in, goes into outer space. Completely unorthodox pop songwriting, and it’s also one of the best pop songs ever. I think it justifies a lot of the things that we did on the album.”

With an expanded troupe of players following their soft-rock modus operandi, Relayted nails the Gayngs vision to a tee. With the pace never breaking a sweat, various singers soar and plead as keyboards, lite guitar, creamy sax, and plenty of extra vocal tracks brush everything in gentle hues.

Following a show at First Avenue in Minneapolis with everyone who played on the record, Olson plans for a pared-down version of Gayngs to hit the road in October. Eventually, when Coulter and Hurlburt can regroup with him, he foresees the Gayngs sound evolving for their next album.

“I’d do something more ’70s, more Stax-y, or it’d be fun to work with strings and stuff. There are so many things we didn’t touch on. We didn’t even do a fucking key change, for fuck’s sake.”


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