The last time we spoke with loop-pedal magician, Cory Myraas of Windmills, he had just placed in BC's Peak Performance Project and was about to start the competition. We catch up with Cory now, just over a year since our last interview, and find out a lot has changed. From a 4 month expedition through Central America, to having to completely restart after having everything "Windmills" stolen, Cory proves yet again that windmills keep moving.
New Single: Sierra Nevada (Listen)
G: You went traveling after the PEAK competition, where did you go and what was your favourite place you visited?
W: I did! I took off for 4 months and travelled all through Central America, then sailed from Panama into Colombia for about a month. It was quite the experience. Without writing you a novel my top spots would have to be Utila, Honduras, Little Corn Island, Nicaragua, and Colombia. All of Colombia; might be one of my favourite countries I've been fortunate enough to explore.
G: What are a couple of your essentials when you’re traveling?
W: Books, and music. When you live out of a backpack for 4 months the essentials get sorted out pretty fast. Books will save your life, and music for any traveller is a must! That and a toothbrush.
G: Were any new songs written while you were away or inspired by the trip?
W: I have about 10 different notes on my phone that I wrote over the course of the trip, detailing 10 different song ideas. Looking back at them they all read like some insane mathematical equation and half of the queues may have been lost in translation, but I think there's something special in that, creating challenges for myself at all opportunities. I've written a few since returning and am always working on music, it's a pretty exciting time in the Windmills camp.
G: When you got back you had your equipment and everything Windmills stolen... How did you bounce back from that and start making music again?
W: Oh did I ever. It's ironic in a sense, that I travelled through 8 countries where everyone back home was worried, "be careful! Don't get robbed!" and it took coming back home and playing in my hometown to have my gear stolen. I did bounce back and that's because of two things. Firstly, one of my best friends Brett Crowe; he started a Go Fund Me (as a back-up plan in case the RCMP couldn't locate my computer) because I was receiving a tonne of emails and messages from complete strangers asking if they could donate money for a new computer. It was a bit overwhelming, and it still is if I think on it a lot. The second reason I was able to bounce back is because of the entire community's response to it. In three days the campaign raised over $3,100 - which was enough to replace my computer, the programs I couldn't get back and get me back going, more so emotionally and mentally more than anything. Seeing the response from my sleepy town, donations came in from strangers, ex-partners and their parents, my friends parents, fellow musicians (which broke my heart!), just about everyone you could imagine. From there I was able to replace all my files and got my stems back from my producer and all my masters, artwork, etc. Pretty much the only thing I lost for good was about 5 years of poetry, creative writing, old university papers, and some travel photos. But those can always be replaced.
G: When you got back into performing again, did you have a favourite show you played? Did the first show back feel like a relief?
W: The first show back TERRIFIED me! I felt like after being gone for 4 months, and then having to take another break for a month and half that I had lost all relevance. But once I played that first song this wave of euphoria just washed over me and I finally felt at home, at peace during an extremely turbulent 2016 personally. I've been so fortunate to play some great shows since then, including a showcase at Rifflandia in September followed by one of my favourite venues to play: Paul & Sam's living room in Mission, BC. Recently I played with Van Damsel for their last show as a band and that was an emotional night. I've been friends (and dads) with them the last 7 years, watched them grow to be the powerhouse they are, toured across Canada with them, we were in the PEAK together; I consider them all some of my closest friends and inspirations. Now that they're moving on it's like I lost 4 dads that I'll sometimes see on weekends and holidays. But it also opens things up for me to form my own Van Damsel cover band I guess.
G: What gave you the idea to write Sierra Nevada? Travel?
W: Sierra Nevada definitely was inspired by travel, specifically this tiny town in the mountains of Colombia: Minca. I spent easter in a treehouse at this beautiful hostel you had to ride 30 minutes on the back-of a dirt bike up steep mountain roads to get to. Colombia is a magical place for so many reasons, the landscapes, the people, the energy. I think this song came from all of that beauty, from all those insane experiences. But it also came from some tough experiences (personally) and I wanted to use them as a framework to create a dynamic between something beautiful and something heartbreaking. The music in the track is very new to me, I focused on creating lush synths and spent a lot of time with sonics and textures, atmospheres and ambience, there's only around 4 guitar tracks in the song, which for me is unheard of. Lyrically and thematically I'm tackling some of my own unanswered demons, a more personal approach at looking at myself then perhaps I've been in the past. Think of the music as Colombia's untapped beauty and the words as my own untapped insecurities and flaws.
G: Is it going to be part of an upcoming album?
W: It is. Without giving too much away, it will be A-side to a 7" vinyl record I will be releasing before 2017 ends. I've got a few songs I'll be working on and recording throughout the year, and when I find that one that really compliments Sierra Nevada it will make up the B-side for the record. Vinyl has been one of my dreams from day 1 - this year it will happen.
G: After such a wild 2016, what’s something that you really loved about the year? Or something you’ve been grateful for.
W: My friends, my musical peers, beautiful distractions. I mean I spent the first 4 months travelling and came back, and worked like hell to get back to where I am. The fact I was able to release a new song this year is something I'm really proud of, getting to play as many live shows as I did, and even fit in a small tour. 2016 was a savagely wild year for everyone and everything, but we spend too much time focusing on these crazy things and not enough time focusing and being grateful for the amazing things we had.
G: What can we expect from Windmills in 2017? What are you the most excited for?
W: Vinyl! Touring! More new music! I'm just excited to have another full year to get after it. This year felt like I had no time to do anything and it's already over. Having a full year is extremely exciting.
G: Is there a venue or festival you are hoping you get to play at in 2017?
W: I'd love to get over to Great Escape in the UK, to tour the UK would be a dream come true. I'd also love to play Ponderosa this year. I'll be grateful for every opportunity I get.
G: Thank you so much for chatting! We're glad you're back at it.