Posted By McClain Johnson ~ 27th September 2016
Skydyed is a Colorado-based band. They play The Bottleneck September 28th. Guitarist and keyboardist Max Doucette recently discussed how he became passionate about music, the evolution of Skydyed’s sound and their creative process.
Did you come from a musical family? Were your parents musical?
To a certain extent yes. My dad is also a guitar player and though he never took it to a fully professional level, he was certainly the one who first got me started as musician. My guitar that I tour with was actually handed down to me from him from his musician days which I’m very grateful for. My great-uncle was also a big influence on me guitar-wise and many other members of my family have sung or played piano as a hobby. Shane’s family had no musical background before him, but they supported him from a very early age giving him the resources he needed to grow. Andrew’s dad on the other hand made a lifelong career as a professional musician and was a huge influence on him too.
What was your earliest musical memory?
Honestly it’s probably from the old VHS tapes my parents have of me as a little kid dancing to various children’s songs, although I don’t actually have the memory. Earliest memory I can remember would probably be the first time I tried playing my dad’s guitar just whacking on the strings having no idea what I was doing, but being absolutely mesmerized by it.
How did Skydyed first come together?
Skydyed really started as a reggae-rock band between a couple friends and myself in high school. Andrew and I were already friends then and it was around the time he joined that we both started dabbling in electronic music that he joined the group. After we moved to Colorado post-graduation our original lineup kind of fell apart and it was there we met Shane who eventually joined us once we started developing our new sound.
How does your creative process work when writing a song?
It often starts out as one of us just making a simple demo in Ableton and then if everyone likes it we’ll start building upon that as we go, but sometimes two of us or everyone will sit down and start something together. For example, Andrew and I will often both leave the drums open for Shane, or I’ll leave a lot of the bass parts and arrangement open for Andrew, or Andrew will give a lot of room in his compositions for Shane and I to add on to. It’s really just writing on the fly between the three of us so that we can end up with something we all like and think others will like as well.
Your songs have a really great flow to them. Do you try and record tracks as live as possible?
Not necessarily, we do a lot of the writing within Ableton itself but we try to approach it in a way that we can replicate live after the fact. Every now and then an idea will be something someone comes up with on the spot, but usually we spend a lot of time tinkering with various sounds and trying new things out to see what sticks. Something Andrew really brought to the table is putting an emphasis on making sure our arrangements are really solid and not too repetitive feeling, so I think he deserves a lot of credit for that. Shane is also quick to change up the beat a lot which gives everything a lot of movement I think.
How do you go about writing a setlist?
We usually first consider the tempo and key changes first as we try to be as fluid as possible and not spend to much time in silence on stage. We’ll also consider what kind of instruments begin and end each song. Something I’ve started dabbling in is figuring out what songs blend together well so we can mix things up live a bit more a like a full on jam band would per say. Even though we often extend out songs out live in improv/solo sections we have yet to really dial in those kind of changes that you often see in the big names of the scene, something I personally look forward to seeing us develop with our sound.
Do you have a favorite quote or motto that you live by?
I can’t think of anything that the whole band together would say, but I’ve always been a big fan of the phrase from the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti that is, “Truth is a pathless land” which I often look at from an abstract point of view not just the literal meaning.
What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?
There is no final plateau as a musician, so always look to improve your craft. Never become arrogant no matter how far you get. Always show respect and appreciation to your fans and musical peers. Also, be sure to remember professional music is not just an art, it is also a business whether you like it or not. Most importantly of all never forget that music is beyond ourselves and to never lose sight of the the underlying importance it has to this world and the people in it.