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Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock


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POSTED BY: Jesse Skinner
January 11, 2012
Montreal producer and songwriter Mike Nash has been around a few years, seen trends and scenes come and go, and kept his wits. He is a self-described “Hack-of-all-trades,” a multi-tasker whose self-deprecating nature belies the skill he brings to all aspects of music. In this interview conducted just before the Christmas holiday, we called up Nash to talk about how he’s made his way in the industry, his influences, and the unique video for his tune “Sad Robot Harmonies.”

What are you up to this fine day?

Getting my mom some flowers.

For Christmas? ?

[Laughs] No, I think I’ll have to get her more than that. She’s just having an operation ... She’s just getting to that age. I come from a pretty strange family. My youngest sister is 15 years older than me ... I grew up in a family of all sisters, which is maybe why I’m such a sensitive little artist.

Does art run in your family???

Not at all. My family is pretty old school. My mom is from India. She had an interesting life, went to school in the Himalayas beside a Buddhist monastery. My dad’s mom was Spanish. There was Indian music around, but not always. It was mostly classical and Spanish guitar upstairs, and downstairs would be my sisters and their ‘70s rock. I still love classical music to this day, I wake up to it every morning, but (as a teenager) I started getting into punk, like The Dayglo Abortions, who actually scared the shit out of me as a kid.

The most interesting band I found was Sonic Youth. They were very interested in physics and chaos. Every second song was in a different, weird tuning. They had this way of controlling chaos and deriving melody from it.

I only got into Sonic Youth recently, and then they go and break up!

Well, it’s about time. They’ve been going forever. So yeah, at the time I was fascinated by that alternative culture. I had the pleasure of being friends with Randy Boyd, who helped foster that scene with Cargo Records, which had derivative labels like Epitaph and Sub Pop. And like a typical Torontonian/Montrealer who likes to support underground bands, when the shit started going good he left. People were syphoning money from it.

You do production work as well, correct?

Yeah, I started a home basement studio and just learnt everything, all the science that went behind it. So I’ve tried to approach music from all angles: engineering, producing, songwriting, and performing. I don’t consider myself dumb but I might not be smart for picking a career in the music industry ... but I decided I wanted to make a living with it, to know all aspects of it. I like the term “Hack of All Trades.” ??

At a certain point people will stop teaching you things. ??

That’s right. Many of my close friends are business owners or have gotten their Masters, and with that at a certain point to have to specify, experience details in their smallest form. I’ve always been attracted to people who are disciplined in what they do, even if I’ve been more all over the map.??

I’ve heard endless complaints about how hard it is to make a living in the music industry, usually from people who just play their own music and don’t work for or help anyone else.

At the end of the day playing music can be very self-serving. But you want to be able to help others develop their skills and talent, and that’s something I’ve always been involved with in the Montreal community. Taking on different roles, doing journalism on the side or becoming a promoter etc. ... learning all facets can be very beneficial whether you “master” something specific or not. ??I’ve never wanted to be “amazing” at a particular instrument, I’ve just wanted to understand as many as possible to learn how they fit together in an arrangement.

No form of popular music favours the “best” musicians.

Well, I appreciate you trying to make me feel better about myself [laughs]. Everyone has their moments of envy. Being in Montreal I’m lucky to be surrounded by musicians not necessarily interested in monetary gain.

Tell me how the video for “Sad Robot Harmonies” came to life.

We had the idea of involving schools in a contest. They could submit and hopefully it would provide credit for their courses. The promotion was a bit weak and didn’t quite work out.

I’d been following the videographer Christopher Mills, and I loved his style. A tremendous talent. I saw his video for “The Flood pt. 1” by The Acorn. I was flabbergasted. I promoted the video to all my music friends, and about a year later he came across my mixes for the record and found me through Maple Music. I had written a treatment that was way over budget, but he basically had the idea of creating a whole bunch of sketches and having my face green-screened onto them. I thought it was perfect, couldn’t think of anything better. I had the idea of reflecting those old NFB films, you know?

I’m a film student, so I can say that homage was pretty clear.

There was a time when I watched almost every single NFB film I could possibly get my hands on. That carried over to what I wanted to do, and based on the budget we had it was perfect. Christopher will be doing my next video, for “Taken Away,” and it’s him at his best.

His magnum opus?

Holy manolli, did he do a good job!
- Toro Magazine

Thoughts of science and sanity nimbly bend and contort in the focused mind of multitasking local Mike Nash, whose impressionistic portraits of a noggin nudged over the edge will surreptitiously seep into yours. Although set to a casual foot-stomping pace (recalling a 90s folktronica vibe), the anomalously laid-out keyboards and guitars flow to their own impossible groove. Nash’s Strokes-y enunciated vocals serve as quirky cranial tour guide. Self-produced with remarkable poise. 8/10 Trial Track: “Armageddon Dance” (Erik Leijon) Album launch with Tim Chaisson & Morning Fold at l’Escogriffe, Sun. Nov. 27, 8:30 p.m - Montreal Mirror

By John P. McLaughlin, Special to The Province
He goes by the name of Nash and he’s having something of a stealth career in music. He’s good, he recently wrote and produced his debut album, The Death of Reason, for Fontana North/Maple Music. The problem is he has no online existence. No website. No Facebook. Nada.
Photograph by: Submitted photo, The Province

He goes by the name of Nash and he’s having something of a stealth career in music. He’s good, he recently wrote and produced his debut album, The Death of Reason, for Fontana North/Maple Music. The problem is he has no online existence. No website. No Facebook. Nada.
There’s a two-page bio that came via the label and which he admits is highly embellished in spots, but the bare facts are there. He’s from Montreal, he’s named Mike Nash but everyone always called him by his last name, just Nash. As for his non attendance in the web-o-sphere, well ...
“The decision was to make it like a secret new artist thing? But I’ve been around for a bit, I had a band in my early days, an eight-piece progressive rock band. We used to play a lot in Montreal and then I sort of dove under for a few years.”
It takes a while to tease it out of him but there’s considerably more to Nash than that. Most notably, he suffers from a chronic digestive medical condition reminiscent of Crone’s but that isn’t actually a disease. There have been numerous surgeries.
Right after high school there were also numerous trips to Los Angeles funded by an odd childhood habit of saving money. He saved his allowance, he saved his paper-route money and by the time he turned 18 and ready to take on the world Nash had a pretty tidy sum squirreled away. In California he had an aunt who worked for Warner Records. That was an in.
After a few visits over a couple of years, in his mid-20s Nash moved to the Golden State and took up residence at a friend’s studio. Neighbourhood-wise, we’re talking kinda sketchy.
“It was Long Beach but very deep in,” says Nash. “A super Mexican ghetto area called Vernon-Maywood, a melding of industrial and neighbourhoods. I had instances where I was working there at three or four in the morning and guys heard the music and were trying to beat down the door with chairs. It got kinda scary. You weren’t supposed to ride the train after 6 p.m.”
He actually lived at the studio infested with cockroaches the size of mice. Nearby was a place that processed stinking road kill while in the opposite direction was a bakery that exuded the aroma of fresh blueberry pies. Both odours commingled in the studio constantly. He says you get used to it.
While there Nash recorded quite a pile of songs and made some money on the side using new-found engineering skills recording other projects. He also earned a bit running around gated communities replacing old, incandescent light bulbs with the new energy saving bulbs. It’s been an interesting life for this guy.
Back in Montreal he started work on winnowing down the California songs, writing new material and recording his debut album, The Death of Reason. From The Death of Reason today’s featured free download is Nash’s “Taken Away.”
“That was one of the songs I wrote right before I went into the studio,” says Nash. “I was just starting to come to terms with my health issues. I’m always a big believer in writing about positive things, to try to not get down by the things around you in this world.”
- The Province

Our Rating: 3.5/5
By: Mykael Sopher
Sure-footed and brimming with familiar hooks and melodies, The Death of Reason is the debut outing from Montreal-rooted singer/songwriter Mike Nash. Commonly referred to by surname only, Nash is, in essence, a one-man band; he wrote, produced, mixed and played all the instruments on The Death of Reason (save: the drums), and it’s his smart attention to production detail and song construction that makes this a great sounding alt-rock album. Lead single and album standout Sad Robot Harmonies sees Nash channel his inner Cake (replete with vocals akin to the inimitable John McCrea); while the delightfully off-kilter groove of In a State of Mind is danceable and honest. A smart debut. - Uptown Magazine

By Gregory Adams
With a resume that includes stints as a record company employee, music journalist, concert promoter and artist manager, Montreal native Nash has seen his share of action in the music industry. Hoping to flip the script, the singer-songwriter is now moving from behind the scenes to show off some songs of his own.

Nash will be releasing his debut disc The Death of Reason on MapleMusic Recordings/Shoreline Records this fall. Though displaying a wide range of influences, from "the alterno-indie cynicism of Beck to Phoenix, the quirkiness of Cake to Spoon and the haunting vocal touches of Failure and Depeche Mode," the artists synthesizes his favs into something altogether unique, according to the press release.

Just check out first single "Sad Robot Harmonies," whose Christopher Mills-directed video you can watch below. You can also download the track here.

Nash himself explains that the electro-tinged indie pop song tips its hat to everyone that's helped him out over the years.

"The song is a large thank you to some really good people in my life which points out the contrast between good-intentioned people and people with agendas and my ability to deal with or be able to cope with the latter," he said in a statement. "The song ends with the moral of: 'No matter how shitty things get, there's always good, and love prevails despite the sadness of things around you.'"

Though neither a tracklisting nor release date has been properly announced for The Death of Reason, Nash will be hitting up a handful of Canadian cities with his quirky, baritone-vocal-heavy jams. Check the schedule below.

Tour dates:

8/12 Montreal, QC - Divian Orange*
8/13 Ottawa, ON - Avant Garde*
8/16 Toronto, ON - The Horseshoe
8/17 Kingston, ON - The Mansion*
8/18 Hamilton, ON - The Corktown*

* with the Noble Thiefs

By Alex Hudson

Last month, we learned that music industry lifer Nash would be emerging from behind the scenes to release his first album, The Death of Reason. Now, we have the details of the Montreal singer-songwriter's debut.

The Death of Reason is due out October 25 via MapleMusic Recordings/Shoreline Records. A press release name-checks artists like Beck, Phoenix, Cake, Spoon, Failure and Depeche Mode, with Nash reportedly infusing these influences into "unique arrangements, unusual instrumentation, danceable beats and memorable hooks to create a sound that's truly his own."

Check out the bass-driven new single "Taken Away" below. A music video is on the way next month, but until then, you watch a clip for the album cut "Sad Robot Harmonies" at the bottom of the page.


"The Death of Reason" album - Released everywhere on 10/25/2011
"Sad Robot Harmonies" single & video - Released everywhere 7/12/2011
"Taken Away" single & video - To be released in February of 2012.



Nash is the picture of perseverance.

Though the suburban Montreal native is only just in his thirties, he’s already gone through more experiences, turmoil and hardships than a person twice his age. All of these experiences have shaped who he is today and are reflected in the eclectic and colourful musical landscapes he’s created for his The Death of Reason debut solo album for Shoreline Records/Fontana North.

Nash embraced music in his teens and it has continued to be the driving force in his life through his ups and downs and stints as a music journalist, record company employee, concert promoter, aquatics instructor, semi-professional athlete, artist manager, studio owner, construction worker, university student, non-profit organization founder, frequent hospital patient, repeated robbery victim, singer, songwriter, composer, musician and producer. Much of his professional music career has been split between Montreal and roach-infested abodes in Los Angeles, with significant periods also spent in New York City, Toronto, Vancouver and touring across North America.

It’s tiring just hearing the things that Nash has done, so it’s no surprise that he says of making The Death of Reason: “One of the reasons this has taken so long, aside from some large bumps in the road, is that I just kept on writing whatever came into my mind and it took a while for the project to come together and take off.”

Nash's musical influences range from the alterno-indie-cynism of Beck to Phoenix, the quirkiness of Cake to Spoon, the rhythms of reggae and the haunting vocal touches of Failure and Depeche Mode. He takes elements from these artists and infuses them with unique arrangements, unusual instrumentation, danceable beats and memorable hooks to create a sound that’s truly his own.

Apart from a few helping hands here and there, Nash sang, played bass, guitar, keyboards, programming, omnichord and glockenspiel — pretty much everything but drums — on The Death of Reason, which he also recorded, engineered and produced.

“I don’t really know how to play any one instrument very well, but I know how to play all of them,” explains the good-natured Nash. “It helps in knowing how to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together.”

Nash recorded about three-quarters of The Death of Reason at his Montreal studio and the remainder at a rented chalet in the small ski town of Morin Heights, Quebec. With the exception of “Walk Alone” and “Armageddon Dance,” from which he took a few samples from producer/writer and friend, Ryan Battistuzzi, he wrote all of the songs himself.

“I used to have a pretty jaded perspective and always liked being alone better because people used to let me down a lot,” says Nash, who’s had run-ins with both record label representatives and guys with guns — and isn’t sure who’s shadier.

But for someone who’s endured so many hardships, there’s no escaping the sense of humour and hope that shine through the clouds in many of Nash’s songs “for those seeking a little bit more out of life.”

Catchy lead single “Sad Robot Harmonies,” which features a superior video directed by eight-time Juno Award nominee and three-time winner Christopher Mills (Modest Mouse, Broken Social Scene, Blue Rodeo), is a great example of Nash’s approach on the album. This is how he describes it:

“The song is a large thank you to some really good people in my life which points out the contrasts between good-intentioned people and people with agendas, and my inability to deal with or be able to cope with the latter. I figured I’d be ironic about it and tell it from the perspective of a robot with artificial intelligence who’s so frustrated with humans and the terrible things that they do that he decides he can’t take it anymore and resorts to building himself a tree house so that he can be removed from his human counterparts. The song ends with the moral of: ‘No matter how shitty things get, there’s always good, and love prevails despite the sadness of things around you.’”

Nash says second single “Taken Away” is “about when life deals you a bad hand and how to make the best of it, and to get back up on one’s feet. I wrote this when I was sick and feeling down about my future in this world and realized that, no matter what, I had to get back up on the horse. I went right into the studio two days after my third operation, high on painkillers, and went back to work. The message is that everybody hurts, relatively or not, and to not let the bad things in life stop you from living it.”

Another song close to Nash’s heart is “Friends are Drugs,” which he drew from his experiences as a teenager and wrote for his niece.

“I’m trying to tell my niece that her uncle was definitely a guy who pushed boundaries, but was always responsible. It’s a reminder to value and be loyal to your friends when you’re a kid because they help to form your character, and are there to support you as you grow up.”

While recording The Deat