Self Cynic
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Self Cynic

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"CD Review - May 2008"

"Their folk influences make Self Cynic unique and not your typical indie band". - Zach Batist - The Plant - Montreal

"You know... they're bound to live up to their tongue-in-cheek name."

You know that when a band lists the weather, people who try to screw with their head, energy drinks and their parents' old Beatles records as musical influences they're bound to live up to their tongue-in-cheek name.

Alt-folk rock Montreal band, Self Cynic, are preparing to launch their debut self-titled CD on Friday, June 13 at 9 p.m. at Club Lambi (4465 St. Laurent) and they're understandably very excited about it. With special guest musicians, new arrangements and lots of other surprises, the show, which will kick off a week-long tour in support of the album, promises to be loads of fun. Opening the night will be a New York band, The Dig.

With upbeat songs, open instrumentation and powerfully instrospective vocals, the five-member band, featuring Matt Antaya on vocals and guitar, NDG resident Luke Atherton on vocals and guitar, Mike Harbec on bass and former NDGer Lewis Handford on drums, is, according to their own words "an evolving expirement." Aren't we all?

The band was recently featured on "Made in Canada" on Montreal's CHOM 97.9 FM. When they're not rehearsing or performing, they can be found jay-walking down near Cosmos or Honey's or downing a pint at Orchard Pub on Monkland. They've also performed on numerous occasions at Sheika Café, while part of their album was recorded at Fast Forward Studios, on Beaconsfield, in NDG.

Interested in checking out their music? Log on to: or check out My personal favourite of theirs? "Never Change"

If unable to make the CD launch on Friday, Self Cynic will also be following that up with an unplugged show at the Yellow Door (3625 Aylmer) the very next day, Saturday, June 14, at 8:30 p.m. That show will also mark the debut performance for Ian and his Panama City project; another NDG musician. You can check out his music at www.myspace.

by Toula Foscolos - Westmount Examiner

"Interview - New Self Cynic Album"

Matt Antaya is eager to talk about the upcoming debut of his band, Self Cynic. Recorded in Montreal, New York, and Dallas, the Montreal-based five piece’s self-titled album promises to offer something to both folk and rock fans. The record can be quiet (but not always). It is urgent, but not deliberate.

Antaya is the band’s leader because every band needs a leader. Yet he is careful to recognize that the best groups are always more than the sum of their parts.

Is Self Cynic destined to follow on the heels of other Montreal acts that later triumphed in the indie world? (Think The Dears.) Hard to say, but it is evident that Antaya chooses to dream big. And so he should.

Interview by Joy Sculnick

JS: Are you happy with the way the record turned out?

MA: I’m very happy. It was one of these things where some of the songs came together effortlessly. Some of them had to be worked a little bit more. But even when it came time to kind of say, ‘Oh, it’s good enough,’ we never did that. Other songs were recorded inside a couple of hours – conception to finish. There was one song in particular ['Mona Lisa'] that got buried in instruments. We just kept throwing stuff in. It got lost in the mix of it all and then eventually started pulling stuff back out again and got back to what the song’s actually about.

JS: Do you think you achieved what you wanted?

MA: Yeah, 100%. More than anything we wanted to be able to give it to people and say, ‘This is us. This is what we do. We’re proud of this.’ Hopefully you don’t go through it but I think a lot of times you do end up going through it where you do have demos and you give it to people and in the back of your mind there’s always that ‘Oh, it could have been a little bit better’ or ‘We kind of raced through that’ or ‘We didn’t really get to explore the way we wanted to.’ More than anything we wanted to avoid that. We wanted to be able to hand it to someone and say, ‘We’re 100% happy with this.’ We achieved that.

JS: How would you qualify the sound on the record?

MA: I’m the worst person to ask.

JS: But you wrote all the songs.

MA: (laughs) That qualifies me 100% as the worst person to ask.

JS: Would you say it’s rock? Would you say it’s pop?

MA: I would say it definitely has a rock element to it. But it’s probably all folk, a little bit heavier than folk is considered most of the time. There’s pop elements in there, which I kind of cringe at the idea. But it is. There are some catchy pieces in there.

JS: Which song on the record means the most to you?

MA: ‘In My Head,’ which for me – again I don’t know if it’s going to catch as poignantly for everyone else. But just the context in which it was written is probably very special for me. I was actually working at a studio as an engineer and there was a session that came in and the guitar player was a little bit shy. And they asked if the room could be cleared. He needed to do some overdubs and he didn’t want anyone watching him. So I had an afternoon to kill and I grabbed one of the acoustic guitars from the closet and set myself in one of the side rooms and within an hour or so I had punched that song out. It was one of those unexpected things. It’s hard to put into words sometimes. That memory is very vivid. It was a gift because technically I should not have had that opportunity that afternoon. And what if I hadn’t had that opportunity that afternoon? Would the song have still come out? Would it have waited until 10 o’clock that night or would it have been lost? I don’t know.

JS: What was the inspiration behind ‘The Next Room?’

MA: I actually wrote that song, a great, vivid memory. In the middle of the summer, I packed my guitar into my back pack and wandered around the city, which I often do. I tend to just wander. I feel like you can think a little bit clearer if you’re in motion. Didn’t know where I was going to end up. I do a lot of walking. You either find some place that works or your legs run out of gas and you basically decide to go back home. I ended up walking all the way to the top of Mount Royal, found a nice little comfortable spot next to a tree, very secluded, away from where everyone was playing Frisbee and stuff. I really wanted to be alone to be able to – It’s hard to write when there’s other people around because there’s that performance element that wants to be putting on a bit of a show. So I tuck myself away in the middle of nowhere when I really want to write and get down to it. I think it was probably just a combination of some of the stuff that I had seen along my walk. All the girls out in the park, playing tam tams, and probably some memories of a gig the last night. Put some of those elements together. There’s a couple of people in mind, maybe, that were possible muses for that song.

JS: Do people look for themselves in your songs?

MA: I think they know not to. If they don’t, I tell them. I don’t really make excuses for any of my lyrics. I’ve had some people ask. I can get descriptive about lyrics, if they want to know more. But when it comes to identifying characters and whether that person’s real or fictional, I don’t really play that game.

JS: On the song ‘Mona Lisa,’ what were you trying to say when you wrote: ‘Every heart craves their Mona Lisa.’

MA: That song, in general, was written about a long distance relationship and definitely the last long distance relationship that I’ve ever had and probably the last that I ever will. One of the risks of doing a long distance relationship is that you remember the person a lot better than it actually feels when it’s right in front of you. More to the point, you actually put the relationship up on a pedestal that it can’t achieve.

JS: Which song would you say is the most autobiographical?

MA: They’ve all got a little bit of me in there. I would say ‘Never Change,’ if I had to pick one. ‘Evil Freedom’ has got some pretty raw elements of me in there too.
JS: It's a tie?

MA: Yeah, depending on the context. ‘Never Change,’ emotional relationship-wise. And ‘Evil Freedom’ as far as the ropes that you learn growing from teenager to adulthood, when the world really starts to come into perspective and you see sometimes things aren’t always fair. Sometimes things are a little corrupt here and there, deciding whether or not you’re going to play that game or whether you’re going to stay to the path of 100% integrity. And when those choices come up, how do you react?

JS: When you write, which comes first? The lyrics or the melody? Does it depend?

MA: There’s no formula. There’s no one way. Sometimes I’ll get a little melody line stuck in my head. Often when that happens the words just fall into place because the melody kind of dictates whether it’s happy or sad or what it’s trying to say. A lot of times, it’s a message. It’s more of an idea that I want to communicate that has to find a melody.

JS: You’ve said before that the Beatles are an influence on you. Which is your favorite Beatles record?

MA: I think Rubber Soul by default. I don’t know that it’s any one of the songs. I mean, they’re all great songs. But I think Rubber Soul because it’s in that period of transition for them. It’s that - innocence has just been lost. They’re in that shift between, ‘We’re, sweet, pop rock artists and now we’re getting crazy and let’s break some rules.’ So I think that’s probably one of my favorites.

JS: Who’s your favorite Beatle?

MA: I have sympathies for all of them. I like Lennon’s willingness to recklessly abandon at some points. I like McCartney’s ambition. I think Ringo doesn’t get far enough credit. It’s hard playing drums for the best band in the world. And George is a great artist. George’s willingness to explore. I think when the Beatles got to be a little bit too templated, not necessarily by themselves, but just from what people expected of them, he was able to break away and play with other people and try other things and not just be content with his role in that one group.

JS: Are there any books or movies that influence you?

MA: I definitely went through a large phase with Douglas Coupland.

JS: Are you watching that show, JPod?

MA: No. (laughs) TV is evil, regardless of the creators, sometimes. (pauses) Douglas Coupland. I’ve read On the Road and a fair bit of the classics, but I don’t know if there’s any one author besides Coupland that has really – I enjoy his style. I enjoy his whimsical sarcasm.

JS: Which one of his books do you like best?

MA: It’s not a theme from one book to the next. You do notice his style. Polaroids from the Dead. Hey Nostradamus had a message in there which might have been a little bit more mainstream. I don’t know if he’d appreciate me saying that.

JS: What’s the concept behind the album’s cover art?

MA: This is a drawing [points to the CD cover, pictured above] made for me by a good friend of mine, Andree Leduc. She’s a wonderful artist. She does a lot of painting. She does some sketching. She’s great and very much an artist in the sense of - she gives everything to her craft.

JS: Did she come up with it on her own?

MA: Yes. I had asked her for something. I told her I was doing this album and I wanted her to contribute something. She came back with this one. She titled it Head in Water. I had asked her for something a little whimsical, a little funny, a little clever, and a little serious. I loved it. It was brilliant. And she came back with a couple of things. She didn’t think this one was the one I was going to go gaga over.

JS: How does it represent your band?

MA: Again, a little whimsical, a little funny, a little serious. Not quite sure where we fit. We’re going to do a handstand for you and maybe we’ll drown. - Curiouser & Curiouser


The band's self-titled full-length debut was released in June 2008 on Sudden Envy Records. The band toured extensively in 2008 and 2009 in support of this album, playing shows and festivals throughout Canada and the U.S.A. In addition to college rotation, the album was featured on "Made in Canada" on Montreal's CHOM-FM. This half-hour special featured an interview with frontman Matt Antaya and previewed music from the album. (Download audio clips at

A live recording of the band in Montreal entitled "This is the Night" is scheduled for release in March 2011.

The band also plans a new release entitled "Pass Me By" EP in April / May of 2011.



Ask founding member Matt Antaya about his alt-folk-rock band Self Cynic and his answer may surprise you. Songwriter and lead singer, Antaya, conceived his project as perhaps the opposite of a band. Self Cynic is an evolving experiment whose rotating lineup aims to demonstrate that a collection of songs will communicate their character despite varying musicians and arrangements.

Though most bands will insist it is "about the music", Antaya wants to prove it is most definitely not about the personalities, costumes, gimmicks or showmanship. "I was raised listening to artists who believed that a great song was a great song, regardless" Antaya explains, "The music industry has changed, but I feel that should be as true today as it was then".

Taking shape in early 2007, Self Cynic began performing in local Montreal hot spots during a high time for the city's indie music scene. Though the idea of "a band that is not a band" would require explanation, audiences' early praise encouraged the project's rapid growth. Self Cynic would begin attracting listeners eager to discover how their favorite songs would vary from night to night. The idea has to-date enjoyed contributions by over 20 musicians from both Canada and the U.S.A. This constant rotation of cast members allows for fresh, dynamic and unique performances - equally interesting at high-volume or acoustic/unplug'd.

This success prompted their debut album released in June 2008 on Sudden Envy Records. This full-length self-titled album enjoyed contributions from over a dozen musicians including Josh Trager (Sam Roberts Band), Matt Leblanc (The Dress Whites), Maia Davies (Ladies of the Canyon), Alec McElcheran (Anik Jean), Nelson Carter (The Paddingtons), Arun Pal (Snack!), Jared Lozon (Social Slander) and NYC-based studio drummer Rob Murphrey. With diversity in approach, yet consistency in style, the album mixes upbeat, hook-laden anthems with powerful introspective ballads. Following a successful album launch, Self Cynic spent the summer 2008 on the road touring Quebec, Ontario and Eastern Canada – including invitations to headline Frosh Events at both McGill University and the University of Waterloo.

As evidenced by recent media attention, Self Cynic is quickly becoming a recognized name. The band has been featured on Montreal's CHOM 97.7's "Made in Canada", MIKE FM 105.1's "Emerging Artists", CHOQ-FM and CKUE 95.1/100.7 FM. The project has also garnered positive attention from The Plant, Curiouser and Curiouser, The St Catharines Standard, and The Westmount Examiner to name a few.

Self Cynic has relocated to Toronto, Ontario to prepare & record their follow-up album, and will be touring Ontario and Eastern Canada throughout the remainder of 2009. Please refer to the website for details. (