Even if the name, Young Empires doesn’t ring a bell, you have probably been exposed to their music without even knowing it. Since launching in 2009, Young Empire songs have been featured on television episodes of `Rookie Blue’, Teen Wolf’, “Jersey Shores’ and `Continuum’ and their song “White Doves” was played as background music for CTV’s coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.
Cognoscente of the current digital, download era, this Toronto trio now comprising of lead vocalist Matthew Vlahovich, keyboardist Jacob Palahniuk and drummer Taylor Hill, are very selective in releasing records, dropping a seven-track EP `Wake All My Youth’ in 2012 but then spending the next three years collaborating on their debut, full-length studio record, `The Gates’, losing a founding member, Robert Ellingson, in the process.
Despite receiving rave critical reviews for appearances at Toronto’s NxNE and the SxSW music conference in Austin, Texas, Young Empires have taken deliberate steps to cultivate an apprenticeship in building the band’s sound. “We were well received at SxSW but what we learned from that experience was there were so many bands down there, that to succeed, your songs have to be something special, you have to do something special to stand out or it’s a case of hot today and gone tomorrow,” explained keyboardist Palahniuk.
Having suffered through previous negative experiences, Palahniuk, Vlahovich and new member Hill, have come to grips with the entire Pop Culture experience, promoting themselves via web designs and even their own line of fashion design (in collaboration with Handsome Clothing). The band has not been afraid to travel, promoting themselves at the aforementioned SxSW, NxNE and New York’s CMJ conference as well as appearances in England, Stockholm, Paris, Los Angeles and even a festival in Bogota, Colombia where they shared the stage with Green Day and Jamiroquai.
Having signed with Bedouin Soundclash’s own boutique label, Pirates Blend Records for their initial EP debut, the band enjoyed the fact there was no outside pressures to record their follow-up, however the pressures they did have to deal with were internal.
“Mid-way through the writing cycle, Matthew and I were at odds with Robert (Ellington) in agreeing on the band’s direction so we decided to part ways,” informed Palahniuk. “Overall, it wasn’t working out creatively between us and it also wasn’t working on a personal level. We take our direction seriously, it’s important that we are all on the same page.”
Working with a number of producers including Steve Kozmeniuk (Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj), Jimmy Messer (Awolnation) and Kevin Seaton (Snoop Lion, Active Child), Palahniuk admits the record didn’t take shape lyrically until they had written “The Gates”, a track that become the record’s title and its creative centrepiece.
“We set out to do something we would be really proud of , we took our time but we are very satisfied with the results,” analyzed Palahniuk. “I think our first EP was a little bit happy go lucky but there is a definite serious nature to The Gates, it’s a much more mature record, both sonically and lyrically. It’s a lot more deeper and darker and much more personal and introspective.”
Palahniuk agrees `The Gates’ is the kind of record which should be experienced from the first to the final track, a concept alien to most people’s listening habits who are so accustomed to down-loading specific tracks. “The art of the record has slowly been lost with streaming services and downloading, it’s like nobody actually buys a record anymore. But for us, we wanted to record something that would give us longevity, we have not desire to be a blog sensation for a couple of minutes.”
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