Interview: Derrival


Reigning from Fort Langley, Derrival has been bringing forth buoyant sounds under a witty word-amalgamating alias since 2011. Now, as ardent participants in this year’s Peak Performance Project, they are pursuing their potential at exceptional speeds; refining their craft while kicking it with fellow citizens of the province they and their songs alike represent with so much charisma. Here, Adam Mah picks up his phone and passes on his own thoughts regarding the band’s journey through the jungles of Vancouver indie-rock.


So what has Derrival been up to most recently- I know you guys are part of the Peak Performance Project, but just in general?

AM: Yeah, other than the peak stuff we’ve been sort of under wraps working on a full length album. We haven’t had that much time to do it, because of the Peak stuff- it’s pretty busy- but once that’s all over, we’ll be getting more work done with that!


Any hints on the direction?

AM: Definitely a lot more synth-based stuff, and a lot more electronic sounds… and some processed sounds.


I feel like your music has gotten more intense over time… has the songwriting or recording process changed a lot? Also, do you feel like you have a pretty solid idea of what you’re setting out to create from the beginning, or does everything kind of evolve as you go along?

AM: I feel like every project is different. I mean, some songs come together in, like, a day, and we’ll just hash it all out and it’s done. Other songs can take months. I mean, we have songs that we wrote a year ago that we still don’t know what to do with, and we’re still sort of hashing out everything with that, trying to decide what direction we want to go with it. And I mean, every song starts a different way. Sometimes I’ll write all of the lyrics and the chorus, and we’ll run from there. Other times, Shane will write a cool synth riff or something, or Glenn will write a cool guitar riff and we’ll build off of that. I mean, it’s totally different for everything.


So you’ve been a part of the Peak Performance Project, what has your favourite thing about the whole experience been? And when you walk out do you think it will have changed how you see yourself as a band?

AM: Well, yeah, definitely. I mean to answer your first question, favourite part… probably just meeting all of the other bands and it’s like… it’s almost like going to high school and then you’re kind of meeting everyone, and you’re like, oh man, we’re gonna be good friends. And you sort of make really good connections with people. And the bootcamp was absolutely incredible, just for learning all about the industry, and the business part of it. And it definitely gives you a reality check of how much you have to be doing, like all of the time. It’s a lot to take in for sure.  The second part of your question… could you refresh me on that?


Well I don’t know if you’ll walk out as changed people per say, but I feel like the whole experience may affect how you see yourselves as artists, and your outlook on what you do in general.

AM: Yeah, definitely. You sort of take things that a band starting out might look at, and go, “Oh, that’s not a really big deal, we can just do that and we don’t have to think about it too much,” and now, to me- well I guess a little bit before- but now sort of coming out of everything you look at things a lot more critically, and sort of I guess more seriously… I don’t know how to put it.


Yeah, of course. Well, Vancouver’s indie music scene in general is obviously pretty significant, and of course you guys have been a part of it. Do you find that it’s really made a difference to you and your perspective as a band- what’s it been like, being a part of that?

AM: Yeah, absolutely. I think Vancouver has an incredible music scene and a lot of the bands that i was listening to through high school, and are only like a year out of high school… but a lot of the bands that I’ve been listening to are, like, We Are the City and Said the Whale and all the fairly well known local acts. And there’s definitely some influences that have shaped my sound in one way or another.


What was it like performing at Squamish Fest last year? That must have been pretty intense.

AM: Yeah, that was definitely… that was the first major festival that we’ve ever played, and there was an incredible experience. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. It was pretty awesome, and it was all kinds of people, I got to watch a lot of my favourite bands… it was really cool to be on the same sort of bill as them.


So as you perform your music live do you feel like it grows or changes form as you interact with different audiences?

AM: Yeah, I feel like audiences definitely vary from venue to venue. Like, it’s definitely much different playing for an audience that’s, say, sitting down as opposed to an audience that’s standing up. I mean, you don’t want to change the experience of the show for people but you kind of do sometimes cater to the audience, in terms of what the show is like. If you’re playing a show in a coffee shop then you’ll be playing some softer stuff, and if you’re playing at the Commodore or the Orpheum it’s obviously going to be a lot bigger, in terms of sound.


There’s definitely a lot of thought put into your lyrics, and they seem important to you guys- how do you feel about their role in your music? Do they usually come first?

AM: Back to what I was saying about the songwriting, it’s definitely different for every song. I mean lyrically, a lot of what I’m doing, sometimes it’s sort of just venting out my feelings, venting out more personal feelings, I guess; and then other songs such as Modern Age Kids are more of kind of a look at our world today and sort of everything thats going on in the world. The world of technology.


When did you personally know that you wanted to go into music?

AM: Well I actually originally wanted to be an NHL hockey player. I was super into hockey, and played all throughout elementary school and into a little bit of high school. I picked up the guitar back in grade five but I didn’t really see myself doing it as a fun thing. And then when I got more into high school i majored in music and sort of started getting more into music. I quit my hockey, and I met all of the other guys in the band, and now that’s what we’re doing.


You say on your website that you all came together through a “serendipitous connection.” Care to elaborate on that?

AM: Yeah, yeah. It was sort of funny how it all came together, because it was sort of like one person added to the band, like me and Devon, and then Devon was like “ I know this guy named Glenn, he plays guitar.” And I was like, cool, let’s get him in here. And so we knew Glen, and then Glen knew Shane. And he was like, hey, do we need a keyboard player? And so Shane came in, and then me and Devon knew Dan through school as well. So it was kind of like a line of people, I guess.


Awesome! So in the spirit of departure and arrival, what’s next for you guys? 

AM: Full length album, international tour… haha, nah… but probably looking at touring the Western United States and then, crossing our fingers, that we have gotten into the top three of the peak performance project, because that would be pretty awesome!


Well congratulations on your work with that so far! Good luck to you guys!

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