Today we are sitting down with Vancouver based duo Leah and Gab of MISS YOU IN TUQUES. These guys have a sound that's all their own. Keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming release of their second EP.
G: Hi! So, lets just jump right in. Leah, where did your involvement in music, and singing specifically, begin for you?
L: I actually never really considered myself a singer or a vocalist until recently. It was probably in my later years around seventeen or eighteen when I got a karaoke machine. I just wanted to sing all the time. I've been interested in music though since kindergarten. I had piano lessons young, and my parents always played music at home, they always had something on and it made me want to do something musical. I took some voice lessons too.
G: Did you ever get involved in things like school talent shows?
L: Yeah, there are some horrendous videos of me floating around, grade 4. My friend and I would sing Celine Dion. I was in musicals too, the typical school experience. I didn’t start seriously wanting to sing until later, I bought myself a home recording program and began experimenting with that.
G: When you got a recording program, is that when you began working on solo projects?
L: Yeah. I mean, I’ve always been into YouTube. I’ve had my own channel for over five years now and have posted a lot of covers, some original stuff too. I used YouTube to see what people thought. Eventually I teamed up with another girl when I moved to Vancouver, we met working on a project at school where we sang and from that we began making some indie-pop and acoustic stuff. That eventually came to an end, but it was probably my first real music project. It’s how I met Gab, he recorded us while he was at school.
G: So Gab, where did your involvement in music get started?
Ga: Um, where did I start? I mean, every Asian kid does the piano training [laughs], they call it training and it’s not really music so we can skip past that. It’s more like an athlete kind of thing. When I was 13 I got into playing guitar, because when I moved to New West, I’m from Korea, I moved into a neighborhood with this kid that listened to a lot of rock and metal. I picked up guitar because my parents wouldn't let me play drums, they’re too lough [laughs]. I payed metal music until I was like 20. Started playing in bard at 16, playing jazzy progressive metal, black metal. A bit of drums. After high-school I didn’t want to do anything besides music so I went to the Art Institute for audio engineering and music production and graduated in2010. Right before I graduated I recorded Leah's band.
L: Yeah, it was part of your final project. We had a mutual friend at SFU that had known Gab and said my friend at AI needs a band to record.
G: Great, so you two obviously met through recording? How did MISS YOU IN TUQUES become inspired from that. You two came from two totally different backgrounds... Metal and Indie.
L: [laughs] Yeah, the first musical thing I saw of Gab was him performing at a bar doing metal, up on stage screaming and playing guitar.
G: Gab, do you do lyrics too?
Ga: Yeah, I mean as I got older in the metal thing I realized you can’t understand what they’re saying anyway so I started writing less and less, pretending to say something. I was mostly just screaming my head off.
G: That’s an honest answer [laughs].
L: It was excruciatingly loud, but that’s the first time I knew him. We hung out and were friends for a while before we got into the idea of looping. Gab was moving away from metal and we sort of started embracing technology more. For me, I just had simple piano stuff going, but when he got a loop petal and Ableton we began jamming together and the project started from that.
G: When you play live, what does the stage look like?
L: It’s definitely a live set-up. There’s a lot of things going on.
GA: Right, so the music is based on a computer program called Ableton and I have what’s called midi-controllers that send messages to the computer. So, Leah has a keyboard that’s controlling effects and instruments, and I have a controller that controls the program where I can launch beats and apply effects to anything. I also play guitar as well, with a loop pedal and effects as well. So that’s how we’ve been doing it, but we definitely plan to include more things in the future.
G: What inspires you? Musically and in life.
Ga: I mean, I talk about metal because that was my life. But in the midst of that there was other music I loved, hip-hop was a big thing. Shoe-gaze music I love too, and post-rock in general.
L: For me, I find I go through phases of being obsessed with things. I’ve always really liked Ellie Goulding though. In general, I’m inspired by movies and happiness. Happy-go-lucky things, not bubblegum to the point of being commercial, but just things that make you feel good in a natural way. Ellie Goulding does that for me. I like good lyrics, important melodies that stick with you. Coming from a composition background, I love orchestras and the whole epic, really heavy, but happy music. I also love anything Disney, the whole fantasy-up in the clouds too good to be true stuff.
G: Where do you see this project going in a few years?
L: We’ve definitely committed to making this happen. We want it to be sustainably, not necessarily number one. We’d love to tour in the next two or three years, and we want to make more music and release more frequently. We’d also love to have some really good music videos. As much as we’re still in a development stage, finding our sound and our focus, we’re also very ready to put other things on hold. I’m leaving work for a few months, and Gab freelances, so we can really focus.
Ga: And we’d love to start opening for bigger acts that come to town that we feel we relate to.
L: We just want to play live. After you’ve worked on music for a while you get to a point where you just want to share it.
G: Do you find it’s hard in Vancouver to be a start up group, or do you feel the city accommodates you?
Ga: It depends on the genre.
L: I was involved in the Peak Performance project, I was playing keys for the girl I used to have the band with, so I was involved in that whole run and that’s where the alternative folk genre gets a lot of focus, which is great. It’s a great thing and everyone’s so talented. But, it’s definitely a focal point in the city as far as venues and shows people book. It’s almost a comfort level I feel people get stuck in because it’s so prominent. So for us, and what we do, it’s a little bit harder to figure out where to play. It’s a bit of a grey area for where we belong. It’s very selective for venues and what booking agents are looking for. If you’re a DJ things are pretty great, or a four piece rock band, there’s lots of opportunities.
Ga: Even for hip-hop, lots of opportunities. I don’t want people thinking we feel bad for ourselves, nothing like that, it’s just what we’re doing is somewhat new and there isn’t much of it in Vancouver yet.
L: We are so appreciative to be here, and happy to be, but our goal is to go beyond Vancouver. To see what’s outside of the mountains.
G: Do you make your own sounds?
Ga: Yep, we have programs on our computer where we can make our own sounds. Virtual instruments too. We design sounds too.
L: Gab designs some sounds for our songs, it’s not all samples.
Ga: We use whatever works, whatever fits the emotion.
L: And anything we sample we customize and tweak a bit. Lots of control with the programs we use, we have infinite options. That’s why it takes so long to create this music, there’s too many options and you never know when it’s done. You feel like it could always be better.
Ga: Sometimes you could let half a year go by and decide to go back and change something.
Ga: I’ve started now to try to simplify things, try to work to take away instead of always add.
L: We had to learn to produce, how to work together and decide who gives the input, who gives the idea, who starts it. We now just work to stream-line things, if we’re happy with them we try to leave it and not keep adding more. Otherwise, this kind of stuff will never get done. You’ll just add and add, some details don’t even make a difference so it’s a lot of time.
G: Now we have a random question we just like to ask each band, what’s your favourite place in your hometown or town you live in now?
L: I’m from Chestemere, just outside Calgary, and I grew up on a turkey farm. I’m so about open spaces, I find the mountains in BC can be a bit claustrophobic, so I’d have to say the open Prairies. Big sunsets, open space.
Ga: The forest in between New Westminster and Coquitlam there’s a trail that leads to Burnaby Lake that’s really nice. In the trails there are over-passes and viaducts with cool graffiti, and old trains.
G: Anything you’d like to add to the interview that we haven’t asked?
L: Well we don’t have an official release yet, but we’ll have a second EP out this spring, hopefully around May. We’ll also be doing some travelling to Portland and Seattle in March to work on some music there, it’ll be nice to get out of town.
Ga: You can catch me playing at Bismark bar every other Friday as Namoo Nara. Smooth, deep-house.
L: Very relaxing.
G: That’s sweet, we’ll have to check that out. Thanks so much for your time guys, we're excited to hear more of the new EP.