ABOVE: CALVIN LOVE. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEAN-PHILLIPE SANSFACON.
Hailing from the same Canadian city as Mac Demarco and Alex Calder, Edmonton-born and based musician Calvin Love has been playing in bands since the age of 14. He grew up listening to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Television, and Chet Baker, and now weaves his own music together t0 create a textured sound that encapsulates all of his past influences, while adding in sounds of what he might deem the future. His upcoming album, Super Future (out June 16 via Arts & Crafts), acts as a portal into a dream-like dimension, filled with synth-driven melodies and echoing sounds that create a sensual, yet slightly 0ff-kilter mood in each track—a departure from his last album, New Radar, which was intended to soundtrack long, nighttime drives. For New Radar, he drew inspiration from neon synths and ’80s new wave, but now, with the ironically titled album, he looks even further back. On Super Future, there’s a strong presence of psychedelic nostalgia alongside the yearning and confusion of relationships, love, and what’s to come.
In his most recent track “I Wanna Know,” which we are pleased to premiere below, between many “Oohs,” the musician croons “When I touch you / I feel your magic … I want something you can’t give / But I like you,” guiding the listener through the rabbit hole of love’s early onset. We recently spoke with Love over the phone. He was in Toronto; we were in Brooklyn.
J.L. SIRISUK: There are quite a few musicians from Edmonton. What can you tell me about the scene when you started to make music?
CALVIN LOVE: I was 14 and there were a lot of punk bands—there’s still quite a few punk bands. It was mostly me and my friends getting together and trying to make music in one of our parent’s basements and then playing shows. It’s always been this secret, sort of unexpected city of artists. Now, I think because of certain people’s successes, like Mac’s, people actually know it. There’s lots of really talented musicians there and in general, as a city, it’s pretty isolated.
SIRISUK: Do you remember one of the first albums that you couldn’t stop listening to around that age?
LOVE: One of the first records I was ever given was a Jimi Hendrix record, like Jimmi Hendrix Experience or Band of Gypsies. That was probably one of them.
SIRISUK: What are some of the big differences between Super Future and your previous album?
LOVE: The recording process was generally the same. I did it all pretty much the same way, in my little bedroom studio in Edmonton. With the first one, I had some songs that I knew I had to get out and that was it. I was like, “Okay, that’s it. That’s the record. Done,” and I put it out. Then following up with another one, it took on a few different stages. With this one I recorded all these songs, probably 25, and narrowed it down to 10. I had finished mixes that I thought were the final products. But, being the guy that kind of did everything myself, I eventually started to figure out that I might need some help, so I got it remixed by a friend of mine. He helped me save it in a way, because I started to hit a wall. With him it was a whole new perspective and kind of turned into a 3D sound to me. But definitely [the] feelings within this record are different than the last one.
SIRISUK: I know you previously mentioned that the last album was perfect for night drives. What is the ideal setting to listen to the new album?
LOVE: I think I was trying to shoot for multiple settings, like you could listen to it driving or you could listen to it at home. Maybe I tend to write travel music. I don’t know. What do you think?
SIRISUK: I think it’s perfect for many settings. It’s not just a nighttime feel, but there’s definitely this sensuality to it and there’s something a little bit skewed, but in a good way.
LOVE: I remember when I was writing it [thinking] that hopefully it could be a record someone could put on at any time, whether it was at night, or in the morning when you get up and you’re making coffee, or when you’re getting ready to go to a show. I guess only time will tell.
SIRISUK: I know you’re a fan of the scores in David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch films. Would you ever be interested in scoring a film?
LOVE: I like making short little visual vignette videos. As far as full-length movies, I can’t see myself as much of a director. I’m definitely very interested in scoring music for films.
SIRISUK: Are there any recent scores that you enjoy?
LOVE: The score Neil Young did for Dead Man Walking by Jim Jarmusch is pretty epic.
SIRISUK: So, after you spend so much time alone recording, how do you feel when you finally take the music on tour?
LOVE: Even though the record is a few years old, I think it’s still in the early stages of what it has to become on the road. It’s definitely taken on a whole new thing when we play it live. It’s really exciting for me to take these songs and kind of change them, make them a little better. I’ve got some really good players with me so they’re adding their little flair, so that’s cool too. The live part is way better than the recoding part, I think.
SIRISUK: I heard you’re a photographer as well. What are some things that ignite that creative spark in you?
LOVE: With photography, for me, I’m a very visual person and I try to find beauty in the simple everyday things that maybe people would miss because of being stuck in their everyday routine—like looking up at a sign on a building or an expression on someone’s face. A lot of the photographs I have are mainly from being on tour.
SIRISUK: Have you ever based a song on a photo?
LOVE: I wrote a song about a camera on my first record. I feel like a lot of the lyrics on Super Future are just imagery, so maybe that is the answer to the photo as being an inspiration for a song, whether it’s a photograph from my mind or a photograph I took.
SIRISUK: I started thinking about Alice in Wonderland a little bit, especially with “Follow me, I’ll follow you.” You also mention telepathic love. What can you tell me about love, especially on this album?
LOVE: There’s definitely a theme of love in Super Future. When we’re talking about love and the song “I Wanna Know”—at the time I had met a new girl, who is now my current girlfriend, so it’s about that instant attraction when you meet somebody new, that uneasy feeling of not really knowing if they feel the same way about you. The telepathic line, I think that was in reference to how, at the time, I had just met her and I was leaving for tour and things were exciting, but also there was uncertainty because we hadn’t talked about what’s going on. So the telepathic thing is about those empathic feelings felt during times of distance. I’ve felt those before, like you’re thinking about somebody and then all of a sudden they call you. It took me a while to actually figure it out. I was in a really good place when I was writing this record; it was all impulsive and based on feelings, which is usually how I try to work with my music. Now, two years later, things are kind of like, “Oh yeah. That’s how I was feeling. That’s what that’s all about.”
SIRISUK: It’s a different experience from recording it to listening to the whole thing. Do you remember how you felt after it was finished and you went through and listened to it?
LOVE: The first time I thought I was done, I think I was like, “Fuck yeah. This is great.” I was super stoked. I’d put it in my van to go for a drive and listen to it, and I was really happy. And then you know after that comes the whole outside influence and people’s feedback on it. So first time was great and then I hit a wall and I was like, “This sucks.” I was frustrated with it and then the second time around I was like “hallelujah.” [laughs]
SUPER FUTURE IS OUT VIA ARTS & CRAFTS ON JUNE 16. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON CALVIN LOVE, VISIT HIS FACEBOOK.