With mil­lions of new fans, thanks to Youtube, Yung Heazy’s Jor­dan Heaney is the most fa­mous lo­cal artist you’ve never heard of.

The Georgia Straight - - Contents - > BY JOHN LU­CAS

2Jor­dan Heaney might be the

most fa­mous lo­cal indie rocker you’ve never heard of. The 23-yearold mu­si­cian, who re­leases mu­sic un­der the name Yung Heazy, may have a fairly low pro­file at home, but on­line he’s some­thing of a vi­ral sen­sa­tion—a sta­tus he owes al­most en­tirely to Alona Che­merys.

“Who the hell is Alona Che­merys?” is a per­fectly rea­son­able re­ac­tion to that last state­ment, and the short an­swer is that she’s a Youtube tastemaker who reg­u­larly posts videos that con­sist of noth­ing more than a still im­age sound­tracked by a song she likes. Che­merys’s chan­nel has around 208,000 sub­scribers, which is not a huge num­ber by Youtube stan­dards, but her mu­si­cal se­lec­tions ev­i­dently res­onate with those who hap­pen upon them. Her most pop­u­lar video—which fea­tures “My Jinji” by Tai­wan-based pop­sters Sun­set Roller­coaster—has over 5.6 mil­lion views.

Last July, Che­merys up­loaded a video that included a Yung Heazy song called “Cuz You’re My Girl”; that video has ac­crued al­most three mil­lion views to date.

“She’s a girl from the Ukraine,” Heaney says dur­ing an in­ter­view with the Straight at West Broad­way’s Storm Crow Ale­house on a re­cent Fri­day af­ter­noon. “I have no idea how she found the song. I just put it up on Sound­cloud, and it had, like, 100 plays or some­thing. She some­how found the song through the depths of the In­ter­net and de­cided to put it on her chan­nel. And it just hap­pened or­gan­i­cally. Peo­ple started shar­ing and lis­ten­ing to it. I didn’t even know it was up there for, like, a good two weeks. No one con­tacted me about it. It’s a weird story. I didn’t have any con­trol over it.”

In­deed, the song—a mini mas­ter­piece of bed­room indie pop that con­jures vi­sions of Mac De­marco jamming to the Bea­tles’ “Don’t Let Me Down”—has taken on a life of its own. Fans have up­loaded their own cover ver­sions to Youtube, some­one put the lyrics on Ge­nius.com (with an­no­ta­tions), and if you’re itch­ing to learn it your­self, you can find the chords to “Cuz You’re My Girl” on Ul­ti­mate-gui­tar.com. Not bad for some­thing that started life as a Valentine’s Day gift for Heaney’s girl­friend.

In other words, the song has be­come a hit with­out the ben­e­fit of air­play or even a re­lease on a phys­i­cal for­mat.

The lat­ter will be rec­ti­fied on June 1, when Yung Heazy re­leases its first al­bum, When­ever You’re Around I Hate Every­thing Less. It’s es­sen­tially a one-man project, as Heaney ex­plains. “Yung Heazy is me, Jor­dan—i record every­thing, I pro­duce it, I wrote all the songs.”

On-stage, Heaney is joined by gui­tarist Cole Frizell, bassist Ken Clarke, Mar­riott. and In drummer the stu­dio— Christopher or, more pre­cisely, in his par­ents’ North Van­cou­ver base­ment—he prefers to go it alone. “I like kind of be­ing the dic­ta­tor of every­thing with the mu­sic,” Heaney notes. “Be­ing the only per­son to record and pro­duce and do all those things, I find it’s a lot quicker for me. I like col­lab­o­rat­ing, and I like work­ing with other peo­ple. I just find that with this process, I can out­put the most mu­sic in the quick­est amount of time.”

Heaney is re­fresh­ingly forth­com­ing about his in­flu­ences, which in­clude not only the afore­men­tioned Bea­tles and De­marco, but also Arc­tic Mon­keys and Fa­ther John Misty, and es­pe­cially the artist known to his par­ents as Ariel Mar­cus Rosen­berg.

“For a lot of these songs I was try­ing to write from the mind­set of Ariel Pink,” Heaney says. “I just see him as get­ting as many hooks as he pos­si­bly can into one song. I love that, and I love how he can do weird mu­si­cal tim­ing and stuff like that, and it still gets away with authen­tic catch­i­ness.”

Heaney is no slouch in the catch­i­ness depart­ment him­self, spik­ing num­bers like “Com­fort Mix” and “Baby Don Chu Worry” with hooks as po­tent as his play­ing is loose and slip­pery. These qual­i­ties should serve him well when Yung Heazy sets off on a tour that, from the mid­dle of this month to the end of next, will take him and his band all over Canada and the U.S., hit­ting cities that in­clude Toronto, Mon­treal, Los An­ge­les, and Austin. Oh, and also Revel­stoke, Guelph, and a few other places that might not seem like live-mu­sic hot spots.

“I think it’s sweet,” says Heaney. “I’d love to play for peo­ple in Revel­stoke and Guelph and smaller places, or maybe venues that don’t usu­ally get bands. I have no idea. I’ve never ac­tu­ally been to ei­ther of those places. But I’m just down to tour, man. I’m down to play as many shows as pos­si­ble for who­ever wants to come out.” > JOHN LU­CAS Yung Heazy plays 333 on Sat­ur­day (May 12).

Gen­eros­ity helped Romeros re­cover from trau­matic fire

2As life trau­mas go, it’s right up there as one of the scari­est: wak­ing up in the mid­dle of the night to a fire that’s taken hold. To­day, the hus­band-and-wife Amer­i­cana duo of Pharis and Ja­son Romero are able to look back at the time their lives of grat­i­tude. changed Out with of a some­thing strange sense hor­ri­ble came good things, in­clud­ing a re­newed faith in hu­mankind and the feel­ing that life’s short, so you might as well take some chances. That think­ing would even­tu­ally have an im­pact on Sweet Old Re­li­gion, the fourth—and quite ar­guably best—al­bum the two have re­leased un­der the ban­ner of Pharis and Ja­son Romero. But first, the fire. The night­mare started in 2016 in a work­shop on their prop­erty in Horse­fly, B.C. Hav­ing wel­comed a sec­ond child, the cou­ple started a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion on their house, mov­ing into an ad­ja­cent cabin dur­ing the con­struc­tion. Also on the prop­erty was Ja­son’s work­shop, which hap­pened to be head­quar­ters for his boom­ing busi­ness as a maker of high-end ban­jos. “We started the reno in May in earnest, rip­ping the house apart but keep­ing the kitchen and bath­room, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons,” Ja­son says, on the line with his wife and mu­si­cal part­ner from Horse­fly. “One night in June, af­ter we got back from a party, I woke up at about 3 a.m. and saw a glow that I shouldn’t have seen.” Along with their two small kids, Pharis and Ja­son were in a cabin they’d house giv­ing and built them work­shop, on a place skids the to be­tween stay struc­ture dur- the ing the reno. Ja­son bolted from bed while Pharis grabbed the kids, who were two months old and twoand- a-half. “The fire was in the cor­ner of the shop—i’m pretty sure it was started by a com­pres­sor that shorted out and had run it­self red-hot,” Ja­son says. “There was enough am­bi­ent dust in the room that it caught fire. It was a very old build­ing and it went up re­ally quick. We tried to put it out with a gar­den hose, but then the fire got so big that it burned our power lines, which killed our pump. There was a live wire in the drive­way, which caused all sorts of chaos. It burned down very ef­fi­ciently.”

The col­lat­eral dam­age included five ban­jos that Ja­son had fin­ished and was about to ship to cus­tomers, as well as a col­lec­tion of pre­war Mar­tin and Gib­son gui­tars. Also lost were count­less per­sonal items, which the Romeros had stored in the work­shop for the ren­o­va­tion. But the cou­ple even­tu­ally gained a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on that night.

“In this day and age it’s in­sane how quickly news spreads,” Pharis says. “We got up the next day and went to our friend’s house to use the In­ter­net and con­tact the in­surance com­pany for what­ever in­surance we had. I put up one post, that our shop burned down, on our per­sonal page. That day, I talked to four dif­fer­ent CBC Ra­dio sta­tions, and peo­ple just started send­ing help. Small towns are amaz­ing when they rally around their peo­ple. We live in this ex­panded ver­sion of a small town when it comes to the mu­sic com­mu­nity and the ban­jobuild­ing com­mu­nity, and the luthier com­mu­nity in gen­eral.

“I would never, ever wish for any­one to go through a sum­mer like we went through, be­cause I think it took a few years off both of our lives due to the stress,” she con­tin­ues. “But I also wish for ev­ery­one to ex­pe­ri­ence the kind of com­mu­nity sup­port that we got. It fills your heart with a be­lief in the core good­ness of hu­man­ity. It in­spired Ja­son and I so much—to be able to get back on our feet, and then to be able to give again our­selves.”

In a weird way, then, the fire, as well as to help friends them com­ing re­build to­gether their home af­ter­ward and lives, in­spired Sweet Old Re­li­gion. The pal­pa­ble sense of easy­go­ing joy that’s been un­mis­tak­able on past records is there once again, but this time out the two seem ex­tra locked-in when singing to­gether. Some­thing mag­i­cal hap­pens when they join forces vo­cally, whether it’s on the rol­lick­ing ban­jopow­ered “Salt and Pow­der” or the still-wa­ters acous­tic reverie “You Are a Shin­ing Light”.

“Per­son­ally, I think both of us feel this is our best record yet, for a bunch of rea­sons,” Pharis says. “We just re­hearsed every­thing like crazy. We sang to­gether so much lead­ing up to this record—not a lot of live per­form­ing, be­cause of the kids and how life was struc­tured, but more singing to­gether ev­ery day for two hours for months. All the vo­cals on the record are live, and most of the play­ing is. There’s not a lot of over­dub­bing on pur­pose.”

What makes for a no­tice­able de­par­ture from past re­leases is the in­jec­tion of some grit into the duo’s work. That gives an ex­tra shade of dark­ness to the haunt­ing “Age Old Dream” and a weath­ered charm to the har­monies­from-heaven “Come on Love”.

“I love a lit­tle scuff, but try­ing to fig­ure out whether I want a lit­tle scuff, or hav­ing a note sounding right in tune, has al­ways cre­ated a lit­tle bit of a con­flict for me,” Pharis says. “But I think I might be fi­nally lean­ing to­wards a lit­tle scuff. Ja­son, be­cause he doesn’t have all these years of mu­si­cal train­ing ham­mered into him, has scuff all over his stuff, and that’s what makes him so freak­ing great.”

Ul­ti­mately, Pharis agrees, what you hear is two peo­ple who couldn’t be more on the same page. That she and Ja­son pretty much do every­thing to­gether—make mu­sic, raise chil­dren, pile into the tour van, run a home busi­ness—sug­gests a bond as un­break­able as that of Johnny and June Carter Cash. That, ev­i­dently, is how you not only sur­vive a fire, but come out on the other side stronger than ever.

“We’re full-on 24/7 be­tween kids and be­ing on the road and liv­ing and lov­ing and own­ing a busi­ness to­gether,” Pharis says. “Every­thing we do is in this lit­tle world. And we still re­ally like each other, which is a good sign.” > MIKE USINGER Pharis and Ja­son Romero play St. James Hall next Thurs­day and Fri­day (May 17 and 18).

Orange Kyte makes mu­sic for brain-melt­ing fun times

2When war­riors the of neopsychedelic Desert Daze Cara- road van II roll into Van­cou­ver, Ste­vie Moon­boots will feel right at home— and not only be­cause he lives here. Last year, the af­fa­ble Irish­man ad­mits, he and his band the Orange Kyte made their Desert Daze de­but at the tour­ing fes­ti­val’s Joshua Tree home base, and it was a mem­o­rable oc­ca­sion in more ways than one. “We were, like, the first band on the for Straight the whole on his week­end,” cell­phone he while tells strolling through Fairview Slopes. “We played on one of the cool out­door stages on the way in, so we were like the first port of call.” Be­ing first on the bill also let the singer-gui­tarist check out other acts— in­clud­ing Spir­i­tu­al­ized, Iggy Pop, and the of just pre-per­for­mance Make-up—with­out a dream come true,” anxiety. the Moon­boots pres­sure “It was re­calls. But it’s the com­pli­men­tary bev­er­ages that re­ally stick in his mind. “The back­stage hos­pi­tal­ity was ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble,” he ex­plains, laugh­ing. “At the side stage they had what I thought was a kind of pop, but it was ac­tu­ally a THC drink. Fuck, I just drank it down in one go, and then I dealt with the con­se­quences! I had no idea—it was the one sin­gle healthy thing I tried to do all week­end, and even that was tainted. But at least I tried!”

That this is al­most the first thing that comes up in our con­ver­sa­tion gives cre­dence to Moon­boots’ claim that he’s “just a goofy son of a bitch”, and that there’s no point in scan­ning his lyrics for mys­tic sig­nif­i­cance. “I just like things to sound vis­ceral,” he says. “I like it to sound like it comes from the belly. If I sit down and ac­tu­ally pay real at­ten­tion to the lyrics and put in loads of ef­fort, I feel like ev­ery word be­comes con­trived and cal­cu­lated, and it just stops sounding like me, as a per­son. I mean, the scat­ter­brained, ab­stract na­ture of the lyrics is ex­actly what I am, right? I’m a scat­ter­brained, ab­stract kind of dude, and I’m not go­ing to sit down and present lyrics that make me out to be Leonard Co­hen or Nick Cave.”

How­ever self-ef­fac­ing Moon­boots might be, the Orange Kyte is se­ri­ous about its mu­sic. The band makes a big, warm, and en­velop­ing noise, best heard on its highly en­ter­tain­ing new re­lease, The Orange Kyte Says Yes!. And while its sound ref­er­ences el­e­ments of the past—key­boardist Mat Durie of­ten chan­nels Pink Floyd’s Saucer­ful of Se­crets or­gan tones, while the de­ci­sion to add sax­o­phon­ist Matty Reed to the lineup was di­rectly in­spired by Moon­boots’ fond­ness for the Stooges’ se­cret weapon, Steve Mackay—it’s never an­noy­ingly retro.

There is, how­ever, no doubt that the quin­tet’s swirling, elec­tron­i­cally en­hanced tones would go well with a bot­tle of psy­che­delic soda.

“Phase makes things sound gooey and melty and kind of like the way your brain feels when you’ve maybe taken some­thing and you’re hav­ing a good time,” Moon­boots says. “Those kind of sounds echo those feel­ings of be­ing chem­i­cally al­tered and not re­ally think­ing too much about your real life and the stresses and strains of what­ever you do out­side of hav­ing a good time.”

And hav­ing a good time, he con­tin­ues, is one thing that Desert Daze’s var­i­ous acts—which in­clude Ariel Pink, DIIV, Dead Ghosts, and Frankiie—all have in com­mon. “The whole aim of it is to go see some bands and en­joy your­self,” Moon­boots con­cludes. “When you’re go­ing on tour, you’re ba­si­cally bring­ing the party, or you’re bring­ing the good times to the au­di­ence—and that’s the way I want it to be.” > ALEXAN­DER VARTY Orange Kyte plays the Com­modore Ball­room as part of Desert Daze Car­a­van II on Sat­ur­day (May 12).

Michi­gan Rat­tlers’ hearts be­long to Mid­dle Amer­ica

2Los An­ge­les is where Michi­gan

Rat­tlers singer-gui­tarist Gra­ham Young finds him­self based these days, but home will al­ways be Mid­dle Amer­ica. That much is ob­vi­ous from the punchy Amer­i­cana he spe­cial­izes in with band­mate and child­hood friend Adam Reed. If song ti­tles like “Illi­nois Sky” don’t give you an idea of where he some­times dreams of be­ing dur­ing his more melan­choly mo­ments, then con­sider the driv­ing love let­ter that is “Bru­tus Road”. Over coun­try-punk gui­tars that sug­gest a deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Un­cle Tu­pelo’s An­o­dyne, Young wrings ev­ery bit of emo­tion out of lines like “And the stars ain’t like I re­mem­ber them/out Bru­tus Road in north­west Michi­gan.”

“It’s def­i­nitely a bit­ter­sweet re­la­tion­ship with Los An­ge­les,” the singer says, reached at home in the City of An­gels. “I think all of us in the band def­i­nitely miss liv­ing up north in Pe­toskey [Michi­gan]. It’s a case of miss­ing fam­ily, and miss­ing friends. Still, I com­pletely dig Los An­ge­les. You can al­ways find some­thing to

do, and you can’t beat the weather.”

The singer was the first to move to Cal­i­for­nia, with Reed fol­low­ing him af­ter wrap­ping up his school­ing.

“I lived in Chicago for a while and loved it a lot—i was there for three years,” Young says. “Af­ter play­ing in a band there, it kind of ran its course and I was look­ing for some­thing new. Los An­ge­les seemed like an op­tion de­spite be­ing far away from home. It some­how seemed more ac­ces­si­ble than New York City.”

It would be hard to imag­ine Michi­gan Rat­tlers set­ting up in NYC, mostly be­cause the group seems to have deep roots in Cal­i­for­nian soil, de­spite Young and Reed be­ing trans­plants. Michi­gan Rat­tlers sound as com­fort­able turn­ing Leonard Co­hen’s “On the Level” into an over­proof road­house ram­bler as they do in­ject­ing heart­land rock with an ex­tra layer of Amer­i­cana twang on “Strain of Can­cer”. Whether in­ten­tion­ally or not, 2016’s epony­mous Michi­gan Rat­tlers EP came across as part of a lin­eage stretch­ing from the leg­endary Fly­ing Bur­rito Broth­ers to the un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated Long Ry­ders.

What stands out is the at­ten­tion to lit­tle things, whether the band (which in­cludes multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist Chris­tian Wilder) is cel­e­brat­ing Michi­gan’s Bru­tus Road, or namecheck­ing the Mus­tang Lounge in the star­dusted “Sweet Diane”. Sure enough, those places ex­ist, proof that while Young might be on some level lov­ing L.A., that doesn’t stop him from think­ing about his real home.

“I guess what I set out to do was write songs for my­self,” says the singer, who’s just fin­ished a full-length with his band­mates. “That meant writ­ing about things that were per­sonal to me. It’s kind of strange, but when you do some­thing that’s su­per per­sonal, it can also be su­per re­lat­able for a lot of peo­ple. Even if only about one per­cent of the peo­ple who’ve heard ‘Sweet Diane’ have been to the Mus­tang Lounge, they’ve got their own Mus­tang Lounge that they can plug in.” > MIKE USINGER

Michi­gan Rat­tlers play the WISE Lounge on Thurs­day (May 10).

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