Interview – Marty Zylstra

Vancouver singer-songwriter, Marty Zylstra, is getting ready to release his newest single on Monday. It is his first release since signing with Jumpattack! Records. The single is called “Show Me How To Move” and is the beginning of a series of songs to be released this year. Getting excited? I know we are. To get you even more excited, we got to have a chat with Marty and interview him about what he’s been up to, his writing style, what is to come this year and recording during the current pandemic.

“Show Me How to Move” is about a boy/girl meeting on a dance floor, however, you have a story behind it yourself. Can you elaborate?
Great question!  when originally composing the song (which by the way is 5 or so years old) I was thinking loosely about the fun jibes I get from my wife about my terrible dance moves.  Yes.  It’s bad.  Most rock singers aren’t known for dance skills so I suppose that’s ok, right?  At that point in my musical journey I was performing in various bands around the city playing covers and stuff to help make ends meet and thinking about dancing and learning to dance and meeting people on the dance floor were all sort of ideas in my mind while songwriting.  That was the early idea.  But I do really like the metaphor of “Show me to move” like as in, show me how to cook dinner the way you like it, show me your favourite places to go, tell me your story, let me learn how to live with you through life.
What does your wife think of the song? Did she have any part in the writing process?
I’ve tried to keep this record fairly close to the chest.  not many people have heard these final versions.  She certainly heard the song in it’s early stages, I tend to sit in the living room attempting to “get” the next part.  She may even have complained about the repetition in the past!  But yeah, I think she’ll like this one.
Other than your real life experience, did you pull any other influences into the song?
In the recording process JP and I referenced a lot of our favourite songs and we wanted an early 80’s new wave vibe.  The Cars was a big reference.  But as with with whole album, it always goes to a Beatles reference.  Or a Beach Boys reference.
What part of this release are you most looking forward to?
This record was such a big undertaking.  It has taking a lot of time to get it to the final version and it’s easily my best sounding full record.  We layered a lot of parts and some of the songs had 20 or more instruments excluding drums and bass and vocals.  I think the feeling that these songs are my most cohesive and best sounding bodes well.
This is your first release with Jumpattack! Records. What were the events leading up to your signing with them, and what was it like working with them for this single?
Back when I recorded my previous record, I was talking to Kaj and the Blue Light crew about a possible grant through Creative BC which has some provincial funds for the arts.  That’s where it all started.   We landed the grant which meant we could do the album.  Kaj mixed the record and as time went along he was kind of like “wow” – I think he felt it was a good fit to put under the Jumpattack! umbrella.  It’s amazing company to be in with Small Town Artillery, Aza, and all the great new projects that will be coming up soon.
Now that you’re signed with them, does this mean there is an album in the works? If so when can we expect it?
so in the “digital age” we felt that an “album” as a body of work was less important if all of the songs will be released individually.  That said, we will be releasing the full version on extremely fun and wildly interesting vinyl which is reflective of the cohesiveness of the songs.
You’ve always seem to be writing about your life experiences. Is this going to continue with your future songs? 
just so we’re clear, I never used to do this.  Maybe it’s a shift in my songwriting but I find it easier than ever to find my truth or my story in a song.  When I was young, this was almost impossible.  I guess I’ve just travelled more road so to speak than in my youth. I hope I can continue to find stories to tell that I feel could relate to the “everyman”.  The trick is balancing it – art is self reflective at times and although some experiences are shared, not all are common.
Do you find it easier, or more challenging to write in this way?
It’s harder.  I find it difficult to be inspired in the simple daily life and as such need unique feelings or stories to get excited musically.  Vague lyrics about generic ideas sometimes are easier to pen because there is no meaning.  I certainly have phoned it in in the past with lyrics, it’s 100% something I cannot do in 2020 and beyond.  I feel that lyrics are the layer of the song that keep the song moving forward in people’s consciousness and the reason that so many great songs continue to get listened to.  So to answer your question, yes, lyrics are the key for me to making a good song great and hopefully I can always get there.
What else can we expect from the upcoming songs? 
they’re certainly not quiet dream pop.  In the beginning of pre-production stages I played about 10-15 songs for JP with the theory that I was a “dream pop” or really acoustic based artist.  I kinda got to the end of the list of songs and then had this one really kind of rock number that I felt could be good for a full band with a big rock production, like AC/DC or the Foo Fighters or something.  Anyway so JP says, yeah let’s do that one.  I’m like ok, but only if it’s really really really understated and more electro than live band. The day we got into studio, we start working on this track with the studio band and sure enough, it’s a rock song and turned out really great.  It’s really big and anthemic.
The record as a whole sounds like a full huge band playing together.  I wore my influences on my sleeve and I think people who love the music I love will really get a kick out of it.  It also challenges people a bit lyrically.  I had my soul searching “climate change” moment a few summers ago when I was driving out to Kelowna in the interior of British Columbia and couldn’t see but a metre ahead of me because of the smoke during “brush fire season”.  My record has a few call to action moments too and I’m proud to have a platform to challenge people to at least think about the world.
Did the current global pandemic situation affect your release in any way? 
Of course.  My grand intention was to play a few shows live with an audience.  Obviously that has changed.  one thing I’ll say though is that as a dad of a young family it’s not really in the plans to do a world tour away from my family.  Something I’ve noticed throughout this pandemic is that people are more open to watching livestreams and consuming live music in new experiences. I’m definitely going to be putting together a live stream with my pals at Blue Light Sessions and will keep people posted on that.
Once things go back to normal do you plan on doing any touring?
I think so.  Not 200 shows from Vancouver to PEI but I’m certainly going to get on stage.  I love playing live and have missed it for the past few months.
Do you have anything else to say to the readers? 

Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, and please keep supporting the arts in Canada!


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