From Vernon, BC, Windmills (Cory Myraas) creates "moody indie swoon pop" that audiences often can't believe is coming from just one person. A top 12 finalist in this year's BC Peak Performance Project, Windmills talks to Geyser about how he got started in music, the Okanagan music scene, the benefits of being an independent musician, and much more.
Windmill's Current Playlist
Aidan Knight - All Clear
Dralms - Crushed Pleats
Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear (album)
Fyfe - Veins
Glass Animals - Psylla
Flume - Drop The Game
Keaton Henson - Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us
G: How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard you?
W: I describe my music as “moody indie swoon pop”. For someone who may have no idea what that refers to, think Jeff Buckley with a sample pad, a looper, and more electronic influences.
G: What inspired you to get started in music?
W: Music came to me later in the game than some may think. I’m actually a self taught musician, and that’s why I create the music I do. I move towards feeling more than theory and technicality. I think what really drove it home for me was the album Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers, I remember singing along to that CD and feeling so drawn to every element the music held. I sang for the first time in front of people when I was 17, got my first guitar at 18, and now 10 years later it’s snowballed into this madness. It’s remarkably fitting.
G: What was the moment where you decided that music was the lifestyle you wanted (or needed) to pursue professionally?
W: Listening to Jeff Buckley’s Grace, forming callouses on my fingers and losing myself in my music. I’ve been hooked since I began playing and performing, it’s the only thing that truly, 100% makes sense to me. There is no other option, I’m not a 9 to 5’er, I’m not content to settle. Music is my passion and I’m going to see it through good or bad. As long as I keep progressing and keep moving in the right direction.
G: What do you want the audience to get out of your music at a concert?
W: For me I want my audience to get lost in the songs like I do, to feel a connection with the songs first and foremost. I get a lot of comments and praise from my live shows because I’m doing everything myself, and it seems next to impossible to create the sound I do as one person, but that’s not my focus. While it’s true, to me that’s secondary, I want the audience to get lost in the music, the visuals, connect with me on a higher level. I’m performing for them every night, I want them to have the best experience possible.
G: Do you have a favourite fan moment or interaction?
W: It’s hard for me to narrow it down! I’ve had a lot of cool fan moments and interactions, I think one of the most powerful for me didn’t even really happen with me. Let me explain, a few months ago I was sent a Youtube video of a fan covering one of my songs, Fire, from Spain. The artist learned all the words and sang in English (which isn’t his first language) and had picked apart all the various guitar lines and played it live at one of his own shows. I was absolutely blown away, I couldn’t believe something felt that much of a connection to one of my songs to cover it, in a foreign tongue, and then perform it live. I’m still in awe of that.
G: What did it feel like getting accepted into the Peak Performance Project?
W: It was surreal!! Since I started Windmills 4 years ago one of my main goals was to get into the PEAK, to tap into this massive creative beast, and gain access to all these amazing humans and hear what they had to teach, and to learn. Above all else I just wanted to break into the top 20 (now top 12) and just see what I could do if given the chance. The exposure to new ears, the faith and support from everyone at the PEAK, it is this crazy crazy animal that sparks so much energy and passion and creativity. For a BC band eligible to have applied, I can’t think of a single reason why you wouldn’t, it’s been such an amazing experience, and one of massive growth.
G: What is the best lesson you’ve learned from your experience in the PPP?
W: There’s so many little things that create amazing lessons, but I think during performance coaching, when I had to reflect inwards as to why I do this, and really understand for myself what my “stakes” were as a performer, it left such an impact. I’ve consistently gone back to that, and I’ve reworked my live show to allow the audience in even more, to see my stakes and to understand why I’m on stage. Vocal lessons with Angela were so helpful as well, and so was taxes, the branding session with Scott was invaluable. I lose myself now trying to pinpoint one specific thing.
G: How is the music scene in the Okanagan?
W: The music scene in the Okanagan is an ebb and flow, tide-like. At times it is booming, and at other times, it’s fairly quiet. Kelowna is thriving, beautiful venues and people seek out live music, they consistently are putting on great shows and bringing in some amazing acts, but down the road 45 minutes in Vernon, where I’m calling home base now, it’s the polar opposite. Music comes here to die. But then again, I hosted a benefit concert just over a week ago, at the high school (which has never had a real music concert before) and 172 people came out, which blew me away. If you can tap into the right crowd I feel like the potential for a music scene is here, and it’s slowly starting to grow in Vernon. But I’m grateful for Kelowna for basically housing me these last 4 years musically and giving bands the opportunity to play in more than one venue, to grow their fans and actually feel like the community is behind them.
G: Do you have a new album in the works?
W: I do! Technically I have a new album out right now! It just came out on the 13th, independently released and available basically anywhere you can find music. I recorded with Ryan Worsley (#TeamEchoplant) at Echoplant Sound Studio in Coquitlam. If his name sounds familiar it’s because he also has worked with Dear Rouge, Derrival, Van Damsel, Little India, and Bed of Stars. He is a legend. The album wouldn’t be half as good as it is without his expertise and passion and knowledge, I’m so proud to be able to work with him and have his name on my album.
The album itself, called Measures, is a 10 track expression of love, loss, lust, existence, and navigating the measures we go to to secure either one of those emotions. These songs are 10 micro versions of myself, and they pull from the last 2 years of my life pretty heavily. I’m so excited to have these songs out in people’s ears, and the response so far has been overwhelmingly supportive. In the short time it’s been out I’ve sent albums to the far reaches of the world, which always excites me, this album is just getting it’s legs but I’m extremely proud of what it is.
G: What is the biggest benefit to being an independent artist?
W: I think the biggest benefit of being an independent artist has to be the freedom of expression, the freedom of scheduling, the ability to own 100% of your success and your failures. It all falls on your shoulders as an independent artist, and I think that is such a driving force behind why I chose not to have a band. Failure drives success, and I feel that sometimes bands look to other members to blame failures, whereas an independent artist you can only blame yourself. It’s the great motivator. The freedom when it comes to touring, scheduling shows, relying solely on yourself, they’re all great things. But there are times I wish I had bandmates, or was able to perform with some of my friends as some pseudo-supergroup of friendly musicians. Only sometimes...
G: Thank you so much for talking with us!