Interview with Kevin Young, Jonathan Gallivan and Jeff Pearce of Canadian Band: Moist

canadian music, Interviews
Photo credit: Jeff Nedza

By Monica Ng

“End of the Ocean” – anticipated album release date: January 2022! Pre-save your album now on most music platforms.

Cloud 10

OMG, the view from Cloud 10 is pretty darn sweet! I’ve been a Moist fan for more than 25 years, so after I started doing musician interviews on my website, I reached out to them for an interview. Seeing them rock the stage right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, reminded me why I love them so much. These guys are only getting better and hotter with age. Recently, Moist started to follow me on Instagram. Ok, you got me…just a little bit of bragging! Anyway, that was my cue to keep sharing the music that has kept me going all of these years.

Contact

Instagram: @moisttheband
Facebook: moistonline
www.moistonline.com

Music

Dying for a Light in the Dark – single (2021)
Put the Devil on It – single (2021)
Tarantino – single (2021)
End of the Ocean – single (2021)
Glory under Dangerous Skies – album (2014)
Mercedes Five and Dime – album (1999)
Creature – album (1996)
Silver – album (1994)
Self-titled 9 song indie cassette (1993)

About

With their albums Silver, Creature and Mercedes 5 and Dime going multi-Platinum, this Canadian band rocks on a whole different level. Formed in 1992 in British Columbia, Moist is currently made up of David Usher (vocals), Mark Makoway (lead guitar), Jonathan Gallivan (guitar), Kevin Young (keyboard), Jeff Pearce (bass) and Francis Fillion (drums). With over 1.3 million albums sold worldwide and a couple of Juno Awards under their belt, Moist pushes full steam ahead with their upcoming album, End of the Ocean.

Interview

Me: Hey guys! Thank you so much for sending me to Cloud 10. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I’d be interviewing you.  In a message to Kevin, I told him I’d be on Cloud 9 if he agreed to an interview. I had just climbed to the top of a hill on a hike when I saw his reply that it was a go. My hikers were floating the rest of that trail…

Here’s the quick story of how I travelled from Cloud 9 to Cloud 10. I was chatting with Jon about his journey of self-healing and asked if he’d be interested in participating in the interview as well. His yes bumped me to Cloud 10. Then when Jon got busy with his work, Kevin suggested that Jeff could join instead. Jeff was amazing to quickly step in. But when Jon managed to send me his responses too, I made it to Cloud 10.  All this cloud talk may sound silly, but bottom line – I’m ecstatic and just love these guys. Truly, they rock my world!

I foolishly thought it would be easier to prepare my interview questions because I’m such a huge fan, but it actually took me much longer to formulate them.

So many bands have come and gone over the years.  What made you guys decide to take a break after David went on his own?

Kevin: We decided to take a break mainly because ever since we’d started Moist it was all-encompassing. The attitude was very much ‘there is no try, do, you must’. So, after all the time we’d spent together I think we all just needed to stretch out a bit. Now, Jeff and I went out on the road with David’s solo gig pretty soon, relatively speaking, after Moist decided to close up shop for a while. We had no idea it would be 13 years, or less, or more, or if that was it for Moist. But when we started the band – and I often say this to musicians starting out – one of the most important things for us, individually and collectively, was that we were all equally committed to the band, to making music for a living. A problem that often crops up with bands early on is that one or two people like the idea of it, but it’s not life or death – if you get my drift. So, one or two band members decide they want out when things get tough, or are afraid they’ll miss an opportunity to do something else they either love as much (or more) than music, or life gets in the way, or discover they can’t stand the other people in the band, or whatever. We’ve had disagreements. We’ve fought, and bitched and complained and fought some more, but at the core we were, and remain, really close friends.

Jeff: Exactly what Kevin said. We had been living in the Moist bubble for what seemed like a very long time, so by 2000 it was time for us all to swim out of it for a bit. One cool thing that happened with that is that David wanted to keep recording and he asked us all to contribute as co-producers, so that gave us all room for some professional growth.

Me: It’s great that you guys had a chance to try out other things, but I’m really happy that you’re back together and making Moist music magic. What have you guys been doing since the release of your last album Glory Under Dangerous Skies in 2014? And what made you decide to get things going again?

Kevin: We did a fair bit of gigging after Glory came out. We knew we’d end up back in writing sessions and eventually in the studio, but with the 25th anniversary of Silver looming we ended up focusing on that. Putting together the 25th anniversary edition of Silver took up time and inevitably led to getting Jeff back in the fold to go out and play the album live in 2019. Which, inevitably, led to the bunch of us gathering up our bits and pieces of what we’d written individually over time and firing up the mighty Moist meatgrinder we call a songwriting process. And, lickety-split, out popped End of the Ocean.

Jeff:  As for what we have been doing, we all find ways to pass the time when we aren’t doing Moist stuff. We are all fortunate to have many different ways to stretch our musical muscles. But coming back into the band always feels so comforting after not doing it for a bit. The songs are so imprinted into our personal styles of performing.

Jonathan: I don’t think there was any doubt, after recording and touring Glory Under Dangerous Skies, that there wouldn’t be a follow up offering. Beyond the Silver tour, I was still playing guitar for David’s solo shows – acoustic and electric – as I had since 2007. David was doing – and is still doing – regular speaking engagements on creativity and artificial intelligence, and I’ve always joined him with an acoustic guitar for those.

Me: Kevin, I like your meatgrinder reference. I can appreciate the amount of creativity and work that goes into a song. I’m always interested to know how musicians got their first taste of music. How and when did you guys first get started and what’s the first instrument that you picked up?

Kevin: Piano. Age 6? I think. My mother plays. She was my first teacher. Even then I wanted to write music. The first time I performed though, was on Euphonium. My folks were Salvation Army officers, so playing in the SA band was my first long-time gig. I also recall a very dubious sixth-grade talent show where I played a ‘selections from Star Wars’ bit, alone – and very poorly – on Euphonium. Piano seemed a better bet.

Jeff: Ukulele I believe, and probably in grade 5… Still love the uke and managed to sneak a bit of it into one of the songs on the new record. Then I graduated to other stringed instruments. I also played trumpet in high school, but I was pretty terrible. My mom told me, years later, that she was sitting with a friend at one of my school band’s recitals, and her friend at some point turned to her and said ‘Jeff really holds that trumpet well”. Our band teacher was pretty happy when I moved from trumpet to bass.

Jonathan: My parents had a stereo with dual tape decks. At about eight years of age, I would experiment with anything that could make a sound and record it. Then I’d play it back on one tape deck and record another sound on the other. I’d do that over and over until the initial sounds were almost totally imperceptible, but I’d built these “multi-track” songs that I wouldn’t share with anyone.

It wasn’t until I was about 10 that my Mum signed me up for electric guitar lessons. I had this amazing guitar teacher with a hippie-vibe and hair to match. He taught me it wasn’t so much about the notes that I was playing as it was the space between the notes that created the magic. This has always stuck with me as my sort of musical mantra.

Me: Jeff, I’m looking forward to hearing the bits of ukulele. Jon, I love the visual of your early experimentation with recording. You guys are so talented.  There are not many six member bands and even less who have a keyboardist. I love how your instruments sound together and how your music is perfectly layered. Your professionalism on stage and everything you guys do is, bar none. How do you manage to work together/manage conflict and can you describe your creative and songwriting process?

Kevin: First, are you sure you’re talking about Moist? I mean, it’s been almost two years since we’ve gigged regularly – you know what they say, ‘absence makes cold, hard analysis utterly impossible’ (or something like that). Kidding. That’s very kind of you to say.

Live, we’re lucky to have an excellent FOH engineer in Canadian legend, Matt Lamarche, whose skills in mixing the sounds of the night are very finely honed. On record, well, getting from conception to completion can be a bit of a shit fight.

As I said, our songwriting process is a bit of a meat grinder. Everyone comes in with ideas, bits, full songs, and then the lot gets cut up, put back together, fussed over, and argued about until we’ve got something that, collectively, we’re good with. Then – in the time between writing and recording – some bits fall out of favour and, generally, we take what’s left and record it. Then, we decide there’s at least one song we’re not good with and try to ditch it. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it isn’t. Honestly, there are songs, Black Roses from Glory being one of them, that we very nearly didn’t keep that ended up being tracks that really hit the spot live.

Going through all that requires having thick skin. But conflict, in part, helps make the result better, I think. We’re often blunt and brutal with each other when we don’t dig what is going on – the downside is there’s weeping and wailing – the upside is as a unit, we’re stronger and so, I think, are the songs/records we put out.

Over to you, Gallivan, you sexy beast…

Jonathan: After working on David’s solo work for many years, the boys invited me into the songwriting process for Glory Under Dangerous Skies. One thing is for certain with this band… there’s never a lack of ideas. Kevin’s right about the blunt and brutal bit. But, when someone presents an idea, everyone has their say. And we either move ahead working on it, or let it go. I find it to be a quick and painless process, with minimal weeping and wailing. Kevin always has a flair for the dramatic.

Occasionally, one of us might be extremely passionate about a rejected idea and re-enter it at a later point in the sessions. And, sometimes, the band can be persuaded to give it a shot. But, if it’s not accepted, nobody takes personal offence. The idea finally just gets filed away for personal use, or tossed away, and we get back to the business of what’s best for the band. It’s very democratic.

Me: I love the comradery – it’s refreshing. Thanks for sharing what goes on behind-the-scenes. You guys were like untouchable rock stars in the old days. I remember standing in line at HMV back in Montreal for your autographs with nothing to say. Now I see that rock stars are people too…haha.

Your 25th year Silver album anniversary tour was totally rocking! You guys were so much fun on stage and I remember David saying that after so many years you don’t give a F**k about anything anymore. Kevin, you did a keyboard solo with improv banter between you and David, and Francis did a never before seen (at least when I’ve seen you guys on stage) wild drum solo. That was so amazing and memorable.

Things are quite different now with social media. It’s so much easier to share and communicate with others.  I have to credit social media for this interview because I couldn’t have reached out to you guys if not for it. It’s interesting to see your posts and what you guys are up to.  Kevin, you are so silly! I love your candid selfies in your posts – especially the one with the fancy goggles. I see that you have a couple dogs and a boxing bag in your backyard. Other than boxing and walking your dogs, what else do you do to stay in shape physically and mentally?

Kevin: What can I say? After spending 30-plus years with the guys, getting a bit goofy helps take the edge off. As does having two adorably obstinate Labs. Most of the time.

I’ve always needed an outlet for excess energy – it goes in phases. On tour, I used to bring a bike with me, or a skateboard or I’d just run. Not just to stay in shape, but to see more of wherever we happened to be. That’s key to maintaining mental stability on tour for me. That, and hiking, swimming, and of course, taking the piss out of the other guys whenever possible.

The boxing is for training only – if I ever actually got in the ring, someone would end up unconscious and bloody and that someone would be me – I started that about three years ago. Everyone was telling me I need to relax, that I should do yoga, but I figured hitting stuff would relax me more than yoga ever could. Seems to work. The heavy bag in the yard has been a blessing during the pandemic.

All that said, one of the keys to mental health for me during the pandemic was doubling down on playing and practicing. Whether I’m learning music, writing, or just messing around and improvising – I can just get lost in it and shut anything out that might be driving me crazy.

Me: How about you Jeff, you what’s keeping you mentally sane during this pandemic?

Jeff: I am lucky to have a family that keeps me sane. We’ve done lots of projects around the house, like building a computer for my son, a shed for me and a pool for my wife. We also live in an area that has been pretty mild in terms of cases, so we have kept socializing with friends and family, although at a safe distance.

Me: And Jonathan, you’ve been posting lately about spiritual and natural healing. You mentioned during one of our chats that you feel there is a disconnect between nature and our souls. Why do you say that and describe the journey that you are on?

Jonathan: I reached a mental low point in April, and my sister ended up flying me out to British Columbia. She and her husband have been at the forefront of amazing healing work with plant medicines, and I was able to experience some incredible deep and life-changing journeys within.

The short story is that I’ve been able to reconnect with my soul – a connection that had been waning since my 20s. Rather than reacting to situations based on ego or pre-programming from childhood, I’m now able to respond by trusting that my soul knows what’s best for me. I’m seeing anger, fear and grief as gifts, or signals, that there is something within me that needs integration.

I think we all have traumas that we need to heal, so I’m taking plenty of time for myself every day to look within and be present with what my body is revealing to me. Each morning I prepare some Cacao and have a ceremony where I set intentions for the day. Cacao is a powerful, heart-opening plant medicine itself, and I find making it a ritual offers me plenty of insights and sets up the day for creativity and joy.

Me: I’m glad that you guys have found ways to manage your stress. Jon, I’ll be following your journey on socials. I bought tix for your Saints and Sinners Tour with The Tea Party, Big Wreck and Headstones – but the tour was rescheduled once and has now been cancelled altogether. I’m bummed out, but not surprised because of COVID. Was your album somehow inspired by the pandemic? How did you manage to put together the songs on your album without a recording studio?

Kevin: We were recording at Revolution Recording in Toronto just before the pandemic was declared. So, we got a lot in the can over six or seven days of being all set up, all playing together, doing a bit of arranging and rearranging of the tunes, fine-tuning tempos, and getting Francis’ drums recorded. Quite a bit of keys, guitars, and bass we kept from that.

Honestly, we thought we’d get back to it and get together to record overdubs in a month or so. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, we all hunkered down in our home studios and recorded ourselves. That, to be very clear, is not the way we generally work. The back and forth, arguing about fiddly bits, pushing each other to nail a part or performance differently – it’s aggravating at times, but I much prefer that to recording alone. For Moist, recording has typically been very much a team sport (full contact – at least verbally).

Jonathan: We generated many of the arrangements and song ideas for End of the Ocean at Studio Base Bin in Montreal starting on January 30th of 2020. Mark and I had a dedicated laptop opened up to the John Hopkins COVID-19 virus tracker page…that was when there were only a few hundred cases worldwide. So, it’s hard to feel the record was influenced by the pandemic… especially when everyone else in the band thought it would be done in a few weeks.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So, once it became clear we’d be working from home I did the best thing for myself…and Mark…I didn’t record any new guitars at home. All my guitar takes on the record come from those initial drum and bass sessions at Revolution. What I did do was buy myself a new vocal microphone and rent an awesome Universal Audio compressor. I don’t ever remember spending so much time on backing vocals on any album, but I really got into it. Sometimes you can feel a bit rushed in the studio doing BGs. But, in the privacy of your own home, you can take as long as you need to get it right. It’s your house, after all.

Jeff has an amazing ear for harmonies, and I essentially matched him note for note. Doubling Jeff and Kevin’s harmonies made me really appreciate the harmonies on all the Moist records over the years.

Me: Home studio recording seems to be the trend with other musicians who I’ve interviewed. I suppose that everyone had to adapt to this pandemic way of life. My all-time favourite albums are Silver and Creature. I’m listening to your music right now as I put this interview together. You guys have put on so many concerts over the years. What’s your memorable concert and why? And do you ever get tired of performing?

Kevin: There have been times I’ve burned out on the road. And when we’ve collectively had enough. We did take 13 years away from Moist after all. But the short answer. No. I absolutely love playing live. We all do. It’s the spot where there’s no daylight between putting something out there and getting feedback. It’s glorious.

The pandemic…About six months in I realized it had been the longest I haven’t been on some kind of stage, playing some kind of instrument, since I was about 9-years old. That’s small change compared to what many others have had to deal with. I know. But I missed it deeply. Still, I’m a very lucky human given the struggle so many others have had during the past almost two years.

As for memorable shows…Well, loaded question, I fear. I’ve got favourite shows – two in particular that weren’t Moist concerts, and gigs where everything went off the rails and felt horrid, but mostly – I’m getting quite on in age remember – it’s a patchwork of memorable moments, too many to list. But off the top of my head: That time at McMaster back in the 90s when security didn’t realize David was in the band and tried to throw him out for tackling Mark on stage; that time at Fort Erie when I would have been happy to help them toss David out after he soaked my keyboard in water mid-show, and, most recently, the Silver anniversary Horseshoe gig where our illustrious backline tech, Connor, had to hold my keyboards up so I could keep playing after my keyboard stand collapsed.

Jeff: I have never gotten tired of performing. In fact, there are moments still when we are playing where I suddenly get a third person perspective on what’s happening, and I think about how amazing and lucky we all are to be able to do this crazy thing!

Jonathan: Ah! That’s a tricky question as there have been so many great memories from the road. Playing to a packed crowd in my hometown of Toronto at the Danforth Music Hall was a definite highlight. Or, having my Mum, Dad and sister in the front row at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver would be another one.

The Moist fans truly make performing such an incredible experience. Feeling the energy rise as the concerts move along are like nothing else life can offer. The past two years have been hard, not being able to play shows. Plus, spending time with the boys rehearsing and travelling is kind of like free therapy…and I miss that a lot.

So, even though it was a bit of a kick in the gut to be playing just one show in Ottawa this past September (seeing as we were supposed to be touring Canada all November), it may now be top my list of favourite shows. Everyone seemed so happy just to be out and about, and we were so happy to be on stage. It didn’t matter that we were rusty and making plenty of mistakes…it was just about pure connection with the fans as human beings living through a crazy time. It was beautiful energy.

Me: Wow, it’s so great to hear stories about your experiences. Kevin, you mentioned to me that Put the Devil On It is one of your favourite songs on your upcoming album.  The song is a commentary about former US President Donald Trump. I was reading some of the “lively” comments in response to that song on your social media page. What about this song makes it a favourite?

Kevin: LOL – my favourite song changes often. Currently, it’s the title track. But ‘Devil’ reminds me of tracks from the way back, like Break Her Down and Shrieking Love tunes that grew over time, both from writing to recording and then again over time on stage – with room to flesh them out. Lyrically, too, ‘Devil’ is a song that can be interpreted in different ways. What it means to Put the Devil On It depends on your point of view.

My read on ‘Devil’ is not that it’s a commentary about ‘he who shall not be named’. Although it certainly could be. To my mind, it’s about demonizing people for their opinions, the dangers of refusing to engage with people who disagree with you and at least try to find common ground, which, frankly, for ‘he who shall not be named’ are go-to positions. I’m not against going after someone about their opinions/beliefs if I find them offensive – There’s shit well worth arguing about and speaking vehemently out against. But I’m equally prepared to listen – even to someone I vehemently disagree with – I might learn something I didn’t know. I might be able to take what I’ve learned and use it positively. It might give me more ammunition to shake their cage, work them up and make them crazy. It might just piss me off. Or it may only deepen my belief that we’d all be better off if the offensive prick of a person in question was put in a steamer trunk and dropped off a very high cliff into a very deep hole – preferably filled with molten rock, acid, or long sharp spikes and poisonous snakes.

Generally, though, I think by engaging with people who have different opinions, beliefs, and/or life experiences I’m better able to find, if not common ground, then at least a better understanding of how to counter their argument. Know your enemy, right?

Incidentally, in between writing this and sending it to you I’ve changed my mind about my favourite tune on EotO, again.

Me: I love your visual of the molten rock and poisonous snakes Kevin – too funny! Jeff, what’s your favourite song on the album and why?

Jeff: When we were sending each other song ideas for this record, Kevin sent a pretty much complete song around called High on It that I found so beautiful and powerful. It was so great as it was that I didn’t want to mess it up too much, but that is the song that I snuck some ukulele on. I can’t wait for people to hear it. And I am super-excited for people to hear Ammunition which is really the calling card for the record and shows a side of the band that I don’t think we have explored since the first writing we ever did almost 30 years ago. Slightly more power pop then most of our songs, but still very Moist… has more in common with Freaky be Beautiful than any other song in our catalog.

Me: Freaky be Beautiful is a classic! And Jonathan, what’s your favourite song on the album and why?

Jonathan: Ammunition does it for me. Something about the overall vibe of the song transports me back to the summers of my youth. Maybe it’s because the current conditions and complexities of our world make me yearn for it. That feeling of getting out of school for the year, with nothing to do…and no one telling you what to do. If you wanted to learn how to skateboard, you just got a board and went out and did it. No fancy instructors or clubs. No social media to post to. Hell, there weren’t even helmets.

Sure, you had your moments when you felt you were “left for dead” or “breathing fire”, but you somehow managed to battle through. Nowadays, you can’t go five minutes without an app being out of date on your phone or “breaking news” upsetting your week. Everything is so scheduled, monitored and packaged up as entertainment that it can be easy to lose track of which thoughts are your own. While listening to Ammunition I feel all that tightness loosen up. I guess it just gives me the good feels.

Me: Guys, my expectations for Ammunition are now super high! Your song End of the Ocean is so powerful. Together with the video, the portrayal of humanity is striking. Can you tell us the story and symbolism behind the song?

Kevin:  It’s definitely rooted in the idea of society collapsing – there’s plenty of lyrics that call up images of environmental catastrophes of various flavours. David has a way of putting things that allows a lot of room for anyone – myself included – to see their own life and experiences in. So, at the core, I see EotO – when I’m singing and playing along with it and trying to figure out what the hell I actually played. I get the sense I’m experiencing something ending, and being entirely present – it’s like the clarity I get when I feel ready to let something go when I feel capable of mourning an end, but loving every minute it took to get to that point. So, basically, a bit like Monty Python’s ‘The Galaxy Song’ but not nearly as funny.

Me: Following the release of the songs, End of the Ocean, Tarantino, Put the Devil on It and Dying for a Light in the Dark, I have an overall sense of the theme of the album. In a nutshell, I would say that there’s humanity and lost humanity, then there’s a light or a glimmer of hope for us to be strong and rise above everything. I think that your songs are especially relevant today because among other things, people have so many internal struggles and inner demons; there are harsh societal conflicts and wars; and our planet is literally being destroyed because of the actions/inactions of humans.

Dying for a Light in the Dark is my favourite song so far. I love the lyrics “lost in world without light/and I’m waiting for…/we are…dying for the light in the dark”, music and the metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel. I wrote in a post that after I listened to it for the first time, I had this deep sense that my life would be ok even with all the crap going on.  To me, the sound of rain in the intro is symbolic of a spiritual cleanse and rebirth.

Tarantino is a commentary about modern day society’s obsession with beauty and the insatiable need to be perfect.  The video for this song which has footage from “Caterpillarplasty” – a short film by David Barlow-Krelina, is quite dramatic and the people (if I can call them people) are hideous yet oddly fascinating at the same time. While exaggeration may seem extreme, it often speaks the truth. The hot pursuit for beauty often blinds us and makes us forget about things that are truly important. On that note, fill in the blank: the world would be a better place if ____________.

Kevin:  Wow, that requires optimism, which is not my bag really. But I’ll give it a go… IF… “humanity had to deal with an existential threat that required us to all come together and put aside the pursuit of power and wealth in favour of…” Oh. Shit – Climate change – We’ve already got that and yet we’re still pissing on each other. So much for optimism.

One more try… IF… “we found beauty in truth.”

Jeff: I can’t be as succinct as Kevin here. And I can’t be optimistic enough to simply wish we could all learn how to get along… but if we would just take a moment to take a breath, and think before we speak, or text, or type, or generally act, then that would be a good start.

Jonathan: … “it’s only love that matters” … which happens to be my favourite lyric in Ammunition.

Me: Very lyrical. You guys are so deep. Here is my usual get-to-know-you better question – if you had to pick, who would you say are your top 3 favourite musicians?

Kevin: I change my mind about that constantly. Historically: Nick Cave, Alice Cooper, Johnny Cash – Currently (bands and solo): Bring Me The Horizon, Public Enemy. I reserve the right to change my mind the next time someone asks, however. With virtually the whole history of recorded music at my fingertips, it’s a moving target.

Jeff: I can’t pick. My most recent playlist includes The Replacements, Rolling Stones (Brian Jones era), Pixies, The Glorious Sons, early U2, Chuck Mangione, ZZ Top, Hamilton, The Reign of Kindo, Jamiroquai, Tenacious D and every song ever recorded by Sade.

Jonathan: I’d have to say Mark Hollis of Talk Talk is my musical hero. Clear an afternoon with no interruptions and listen to their final two albums, Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock. For me, I can’t classify them as rock or jazz or blues or pop. They are simply immersive sonic experiences I get lost in. He’s also the reason I own a Gretsch Country Classic II guitar, which I used exclusively on End of the Ocean.

I also recently binged watched Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” documentary on the Beatles. It reminded me of how they turned popular music continually on its head – from Please, Please Me to Let It Be, it’s hard to fathom how much they transformed and re-invented themselves in those eight short years.

Finally, I have to say James Jamerson, who played bass on Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, and defined many Motown records, makes me wish I was a bass player. No doubt about it. Just don’t tell Jeff!

Me: Jon, it’s lucky that Jeff is part of this interview! Let’s see if he reads the final version lol. It has been such an absolute pleasure and honour to interview you guys. Thanks again for sending me to Cloud 10 and taking the time for this interview. You know how much I love you guys and I’m so happy that you are still rocking this world. BTW – how do I get my hands on your self-titled cassette?! I still have a cassette player lol.

Everyone, check out Moist’s brand new music! If you’re not already a fan, take a listen to their older music as well. See for yourself why these guys are my oldest favourite band.

Remember, following on socials is FREE – so give Moist (and its members) a follow. Also show your support by streaming/buying their music, buying concert tickets and merch. Guys, is there anything else that you wish to share with your old and new fans before we wrap up this interview?

Kevin: Yes… But, unfortunately, I’ve misplaced my mother’s butter tart recipe. Sorry. So, just let me say, thank you. For listening to us and coming to the shows and making us laugh and smile and jump up and down like crazy people and generally inspire us to act and feel like we’re far younger than we are. Of all the things I’ve missed since March 2020 being unable to play and/or experience live music is a big one. Can’t wait to get back to it.

Jonathan: Thanks for reaching out, Monica. This has been fun. I can’t wait to reconnect with fans across Canada when we can get back out there. And I look forward to hearing from them when the new record is finally released!

—End—

Here are some new and older videos:

Interview with Canadian Actress Rachael Ancheril

Interviews
Rachael Ancheril
Photo credit: Rachael Ancheril

By Monica Ng

I’ve known Rachael for quite a number of years, but only more recently discovered that she was into acting. If I were to describe Rachael in three words, they would be: super-positive, passionate and energetic. She’s down-to-earth and one of those people who puts 110% into everything she does.

Contact

IG: @rachael.ancheril

Twitter: Rachael Ancheril

www.rachaelancheril.com

About

Rachael is a gorgeous multi-talented actress born and living in Toronto. A few of her television credits include Kate in the upcoming season 2 of Nurses, Star Trek: Discovery (Commander D. Nhan), Mary Kills People (Lucy Oliviera), Rookie Blue (Marlo Cruz), Killjoys (Warden Rennika), The Art of More (Alesha Foley) and twins, Mattie (the Blacksmith) and (Iron Witch) Gretta on Wynonna Earp. 

Interview

Me: Rachael, thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this interview. It brings me great joy to be able to highlight and celebrate Canadian talent like you. I never even asked you what led you to an acting career. I read somewhere that literally breaking your leg – was the catalyst that changed both your career and life. How and when did you decide to go into acting?

Rachael: Thank you for having me!  

I went to an arts high school. I auditioned for drama (twice!) and visual arts and was admitted into the visual arts first round. During high school I decided I wanted to be a police officer, so I went to post secondary for that.  The year I finished, I was in the middle of a multi-car accident and broke my leg a month before my admittance testing. This shifted my perspective in a very big way. So while spending almost five (restless) months in a cast, I decided to go back to school and went into fashion design to try my hand at a career in illustration.  After graduating I ended up working as a Brand Manager for a fashion retail company, but found that I wasn’t a great fit for the corporate world. To get out of it and make some money I thought I could do commercial print, but the agent I signed on with said “let’s give acting a try” (to which I scoffed seeing as I didn’t get into the arts program TWICE!) and that was the beginning! 

Me: So, it sounds like acting was meant to be! I’m most familiar with your role as Officer Marlo Cruz in Rookie Blue. You were “out of context”, so I didn’t even know it was you until you mentioned it.  What’s the first role that you played, and in your career, which role would you say challenged you the most and why?

Rachael: After a few years of student films and non union productions, I booked my first guest spot on a tv show called “King”. The director Rob Lieberman was wonderful (as was the cast), and I always credit him with giving me my “first shot” as that was the role that gave me my first union credit. Then two weeks later he hired me for a quick little spot on The Listener. I got to work with him again almost ten years later on The Art of More with Kate Bosworth and Dennis Quaid.  My first “big shot” was on Rookie Blue and that was both a nerve wracking yet an incredible opportunity because it was my first “series regular” role on a show that had a large and dedicated fan base. Coming into that as a character who not only was the “other woman” but also struggling with a bipolar disorder was intense, but what an immense opportunity! Probably the most fulfilling so far as it educated me on what it means to live with a mental illness, societal perception and personal struggles that can come with that. The most challenging role was that of Lucy in Mary Kills People, and for the reason of going to work every day, prepping while you’re in a mind state of dying. It scared me, the thought of living with that every day.  The roles that make me question or get philosophical are the toughest because they breakdown something within myself, it’s not just dress up, it becomes more personal.  I crave “lightness” after these kind of roles, a craving for comedy, something that brings laughter, but I would never trade those roles for anything. 

Me: I really admire people such as yourself, who can get into a role. I can’t act for beans and can appreciate the difficulty of getting into Lucy’s mind and making her character believable. You play the role of Commander D. Nhan in Star Trek: Discovery. What’s the exciting story behind how you got that role and out of curiosity, how long was the makeup process?!

Rachael: Yes, Nhan, bless her, I think she’s a badass but in a very reserved way, she’s not trying to be tough or making a show of it, she just is, quietly waiting for instruction, ready to do what she needs to – I love that character.  This may be lacklustre, but I had auditioned for that show a few times and grateful to have booked the role of Nhan.  For makeup, it takes about three hours give or take.  An hour with prosthetics, an hour in beauty make up, an hour in hair and then my lenses and breathers go on when I get to set, and it’s about an hour to remove everything (if I don’t try to do it myself haha!). 

Me: That’s a brutal process, but tells me that you have a lot of patience! I hate listening to my own voice on a voice-recording and seeing myself in pictures/video. Here’s an odd question for you – do you enjoy watching yourself after your shows are aired/films are released?

Rachael: It’s really tough for me to watch back footage objectively.  I tend to watch things back and on the first pass I pick at everything (to be clear – of myself!), but I also learn that way, and try to take what I’m doing/did and adjust.  Sometimes I do things I have no recollection about in certain roles such as weird little quirks, physically and I have no idea where they come from!  But that’s the thing, you do all this prep and then on the day you let it all go and just engage with your scene partner.  So I try not to get too hung up on stuff, you can’t change what’s already done, you can only try to improve. 

Me: While doing some research for this interview, I watched Sirens, a short but very intense film that was featured at the Austin Film Festival. You played a paramedic who just discovered that she was pregnant. You were so good! Did you need to research your role as a paramedic or was it instinctive for you? And generally speaking, do you find it difficult to get “into role”?

Rachael: Ha! Thank you! That was a fun shoot, a crew full of great people who incidentally helped me out tremendously when I did my first directing adventure! Alex Clark (the director) was terrific and knew exactly what he wanted, and I really like that. I was interested of course in how paramedics work, what they go through, but as usual, I look to the director to adjust me and I think he did such a great job on that film, especially being his first!

Me: I love the insider scoop. I know that there are “less glorious” parts in the music industry and I would assume that the acting/entertainment industry is similarly competitive and cut-throat. What are some of the things that you like about the industry and describe a couple of challenges that you have experienced along the way in your career.

Rachael: You know that old adage about doing something you love. When I’m on set I light up, I love being there, I love the family that builds so quickly, I think letting go of that and those people after a role is done, particularly one where you’ve spent a lot of time on set, no matter how challenging, is hard to let go of.  I generally take a bit of a break in between characters to let go and reset. 

Also the idea of “competition” and people having “angles”, I find very challenging. I truly believe roles are meant for people, there have been some I wanted so badly and didn’t get, or couldn’t do, and those are meant to be for the person who got them.  I also find it challenging when people aren’t straight with me. I’m a very candid person and don’t see what the sense is in that, probably why I love East Coasters so much, they just say it how it is and then move on.  

I think there is an impression that acting is easy or some want to get into it to be “a star” but the truth is, like anything, it takes dedication and hard work. It’s taken me 15 years to get here and I would say I am millions of miles away from being a star.  I’ve had younger ones say to me they want to act and I always ask why – if it’s to be famous, in this day and age there are 50 million ways to get limelight. There’s always this reality check in the arts – it can be tough on the psyche, you’re constantly going back to the drawing board (which includes a lot of rejection) to book the next. I find it can be very taxing on your heart, your mind, and your body.  Even (or maybe, particularly on) your spirit.  You’ve got to develop an incredibly thick skin, very quickly, not only to deal with rejection in the room, but then sometimes on social media.  Sometimes that part is the worst! People can be very brave in the anonymity of the internet and sometimes, unfortunately, very cruel.

Me: Thanks for sharing. Learning to develop thick skin is definitely a life skill. The COVID pandemic has sadly killed many people and businesses. Our world will never be the same again, but we’ve been forced to learn how to adapt. How has COVID affected your day-to-day life and career?

Rachael: We had just started to shoot Nurses, I think we may have been two episodes in when production paused for the pandemic.  Of course then everything was met with uncertainty (and it still is but thankfully we’re progressing towards that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel). I am so grateful to have been on that production as we were the first ones back to work and they kept us so safe, and were attentive to concerns we had, and everyone was looking out for each other. It was a special show to be back on, and we finished just as the second wave was approaching.  Auditions are self tapes or virtual sessions, as were my ADR sessions (glad I’m married to an audio engineer!). The industry adapted pretty quickly, which I think is amazing, that’s a lot of moving ducks!  I may have adapted “too” well with quarantine, I love our home and all the beings within it (we’re “rescue” people) – home for me truly is where my heart is.  

Me: Awww, you guys are too sweet. I rarely watch any television, but I did plan to watch Mary Kills People after I saw the ads. It’s been a few years since the show first aired, and I still haven’t watched it. You told me that it’s into its third season already! I only found out that you were in the show when you posted on Instagram about your character, Lucy Oliviera. For that reason, I’ll have to watch – but be warned, I will blame you for the hours that I lose catching up on the show!  What did you learn from playing Lucy?

Rachael: Haha!  It’s such a great show, so smart, so beautifully written and the cast was absolutely incredible, not only to work with but as authentic, beautiful human beings.  As I mentioned before, Lucy caused me to think deeply and it made me uncomfortable (which is a good thing), and even after all this time, I still crave doing comedy (for the rest of my career if I could). There is an incredible talent in those that are able to do it, which is something I really admire and strive to do.  Drama is great, but I think there is a beauty in the ability to make people laugh, after all, it’s the best medicine!

Me:  I totally agree about laughter being the best medicine. I occasionally laugh to myself, just for the sake of laughing. In addition to your character shots, I’ve seen some of your photographs on your Instagram posts.  Your photos are beautiful and artistic – you have a great eye for detail.  Are there any other interests/hobbies that you are actively engaged in or any passions that you are chasing?

Rachael:  Thank you so much, that means a lot.  This is where I thank all my teachers in the visual arts program! I invest a lot of myself in my artistic pursuits, being behind the camera is definitely something I love. Spending time with my camera in nature is a soothing activity for me, it grounds me and allows me the space for concentrating and settling into the role of the observer.  I get uncomfortable as a human being who happens to be an actor of the idea of “playing the part” in my normal life, of always being “on”. Behind the camera, I  can do my own thing. I can get very philosophical and also become very humbled in the presence of everything that is much larger than me. I don’t get that same experience with acting, for me it’s more about being true to the character than to myself, with photography, I’m 100% true to myself…if that makes sense (🤨)

Me: I totally get it. That’s how I feel in nature too. When we chatted recently, you made me very happy by saying that you went plant-based.  It was fun and exciting talking about our love of oat milk! There’s definitely a global movement toward a plant-based diet – for health, the environment and the animals. For myself, being vegan is about ending animal cruelty and reducing the impact of animal agriculture on our planet. There’s no denying that our planet is being destroyed and something has to be done to save it. There are also tons of health benefits associated with a plant-based diet.

You mentioned that you initially participated in Veganuary (www.veganuary.com), which encourages people to try a plant-based diet in the month of January. You told me that after the challenge, you stopped eating meat altogether. Was it difficult for you to make the shift to a completely plant-based diet? And why did you do it?

Rachael: My first inkling towards being vegan was filming in the meat packing district in Toronto (which is now condos) and seeing the meat trucks in the middle of winter with sleet and snow coming down and these poor little (intelligent) souls in a metal truck (what a miserable ending to life!) for probably hours on the way to the slaughterhouse.  We watched What the Health and went vegan overnight.  It was 100% for the animals, with the environment being a close first.  After two weeks I gutted our kitchen and bathroom and got rid of anything that had any animal by-products or was tested on animals.  Four months later I wasn’t well and realized that what we were eating WAS vegan, but that didn’t necessarily make it healthy (ahem french fries and processed food seemed to negate the “salad”).  So we went vegetarian as I was craving eggs. About a year after that, we watched Game Changers and realized we should give it a go again and did it far more responsibly this time round (knowing what we needed and where we had gotten it previously in our diet and how to get it through plant foods) and we’ve never looked back.  Now we’re on a mission to reduce our waste even further – and through all of this, my perception has changed, I see things differently (I can tell you the grocery store was a trip after the first month vegan!), I see nature differently (much more than before).  It’s been an incredible journey, and I encourage everyone to try it – and to those that try, applaud yourself! Don’t be hard on yourself, your journey is your journey. It took us four years to get to this point and every step of the way, big or little, is a step towards the inclusivity and connectedness I feel. Veganuary is SO supportive, and I use the information on their site throughout the year (and throughout ALL these years!). 

Me: Hooray! I am way more aware of the world around me after I woke up. There’s no “un-seeing” the horror that animals go through to be our snacks/meals and clothing/accessories, etc.

We’re into spring already…what are your plans for this year?

Rachael: I’m heading back to work in a few weeks and working with an author right now on converting one of his novels to a script – a new adventure!  I also plan to spend a lot more time in nature. This past year I have read so much on nature and the beauty of the natural rhythm and all beings connected, I can’t wait to get back to her…says the country kid in the city haha! (Books: Walden, Connecting to Nature and The Age of Union). 

Me: It’s been wonderful chatting with you. I look forward to watching more of your shows and films. For all of you out there, don’t forget to follow Rachael’s career. Rachael, is there anything else that you wish to share with the world?

Rachael: No, thank you! So great to do this with you! Thank you for having me.

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