Photo Credit Villedepluie

With the youthful sparkle of his 2019 debut album, Counterglow, Montreal alternative pop artist Reno McCarthy quickly gained recognition for his strong song writing and somewhat debonair quality as well as his band’s groove-heavy live shows.

Unexpected events led McCarthy to a surprising stopover in 2020. Following the loss of his father, the artist recorded a truly warm and personal EP. Moving, raw and of great profoundness, Angels Watching Us Dance, saw the artist at his most stripped-down and strikingly sensitive.

* What do you want your music to communicate? 

Depends on the song. I’m usually trying to capture a mood or a feeling. That’s a hard question, I don’t really think about that stuff. It sort of happens, sometimes I’m recording, sometimes I’m making the dishes, and it just comes and I feel compelled to go and make something. You gotta take advantage of those moments cause they don’t come all the time, or at least you better go and find out if it works. I’m rarely communicating something pre-determined.

* What are some sources of inspiration for your storytelling?

I like folk music. Things that are real and evocative and feel like they’re waking up a part of your mind that you haven’t been to in a while. When you relate but you’re not sure why.

* Who is an artist that you look up to more than others today?

I saw Martha Wainwright the other day and just totally fell in love with how genuine and wholesome she is.

* What’s the record or artist that made you realize you wanted to be an artist?

Probably What’s The Story Morning Glory by Oasis. I heard that record when I was very young, I think the first single came out the day I was born or something. I guess I loved it so much that I couldn’t not feel compelled to do something of my own.

* Tell us about your latest release and how it came about

For a Moment is the opening track on my upcoming debut record Run Up River. It started out with an EDM-ish loop I’d made one night. I was immediately really into it and ended up building a full – and really weird – song around it. I brought it to Jesse Mac Cormack to see if we could work something out with this really groovy puzzle. My drummer and co-producer Arthur Bourdon-Durocher, Jesse and I spent a couple of days re-working the structure, laying down some synths and a whole lot of percussion. We also mostly hung out and played around with plug-ins. It was a fun and very quick process.

* What inspires your sound?

Everything I’ve ever listened to as a kid, whatever my friends are making, new cool tricks I hear in new music and concerts I go to.

* What’s your favorite tune of yours?

This latest one, For a Moment. 

* Where are some things you really want to accomplish as an artist?

I want to be happy and creatively fulfilled, to feel a sense of community, to share music and experiences with people. And I want to buy a bunch of vintage gear.

* Favorite lyric you ever wrote?

Everything from the song Saturday. I wrote it on the eve of my father’s funeral, you can’t make that up! It’s probably the most true and honest song I’ll ever write, and hard to get through.

* Was there ever a moment when you felt like giving up?

Not until very recently, not until covid actually. I’d always had this foolproof confidence that everything was gonna work out, that I would be very successful if I just kept to it and kept working. That mindset was shaken in the past few months. I realized how much I depended on others’ approval for happiness and that becomes difficult after a while. When I’m working on a song, what drives me is the thought of sharing it, of showing it to my friends and making a connection. It’s really hard to feel that connection when your audience is quantified by streams and follower counts and you don’t see them in person for two years. Not to mention that you’re fighting for their attention with thousands of other songs every day. So yeah you start thinking “what’s the point? Spending so much energy on so little reward?” Now I’m honestly not thinking about success that much, I’m trying to learn to be motivated by creativity as much as possible, and the feeling that the reward is the making of the music. I’m happy if people like it and listen to it, and do hope I can keep making some sort of living with music, but that’s not what I’m focusing my energy on.

* What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Kill your darlings

* Where do you think the next game changer will be in the music industry and entertainment scene?

I have no idea and I’m not a good gambler. I don’t know when to quit.