Young The Giant are a pretty deep band. They make catchy danceable songs, yet they tackle complex topic such as immigration and politics on “Home of the Strange.” With their latest offering, “Mirror Master,” they deal with self-discovery, contrasted by social media’s alternate reality.
I prepared for a deep discussion. We spoke about a possible meaning for their name (it doesn’t mean anything). We uncovered their existential crisis and what we can do to make the world a better place. We also uncovered one of the deep cuts that needs more attention.
I was joined by Francois Comtois (Drums), Payam Doostzadeh (Bass) and Jacob Tilley (Guitar).
(NOTE: I did my best to attribute the answers to the appropriate people…but it was really noisy during our interview. My apologies if I didn’t match the voice to the right person.)
Montreal Rocks: What is the most annoying question that you get asked at every interview…that you are done with?
Payam: There might be two. What does your band name mean? Why did you change your band name from the Jakes to Young the Giant?
Francois: 100%. We’ve answered that a million times and I’m pretty sure it’s on Google, so…
MR: Now I don’t have any questions… (laughs). I do what to play around with your name. If you think about it, when you are young, everyone around you is a giant. When you grow up, the giant becomes something different. Maybe the stresses of day to day life. Maybe it’s your past. What is the giant in your life you have to battle every day?
Jacob: I think my existential crisis is large corporations in the world we are forced to live in. We travel all through the States and Canada you see how society is unfair and staked against you at the moment. I have a lot of frustration seeing how the world is run. It seems to work for a few people and not everyone else. A lot of people save up all their money to come watch our show. It’s a big thing for them. It just makes me so happy people spend their money that way, but I just wish life wasn’t as difficult for so many individuals. That’s my giant.
MR: Maybe there is a new meaning for the name.
MR: Your latest album, “Mirror Master” deals a lot with introspection. Today, people have deep social media connections but shallow friendships. What advice do you have for those living life behind a screen?
Francois: Talk to someone in real life. Have a conversation. When you have the opportunity to curate everything that you say, to curate your image, you are almost lying to yourself. You are cheating yourself out of your true identity. If you spend time with other people, you find that everyone is trying to find their identity and place in the world. It’s a very connecting feeling. It makes it OK to be yourself.
In general, I also find it toxic to spend too much time on places like that because you are seeing this stylized edited version of other people’s life. It’s not realistic. People aren’t spending their entire time in Ibiza. They also have to go through stuff and you don’t see that on social media, so maybe you think that the stuff you are going through is not indicative of the greater population. That’s just not the case.
MR: That it’s not important…
Francois: That it’s not important. The good parts of life, the celebrations are important and wonderful, but have much less meaning without the trials and tribulations.
MR: You do fun, high energy music but you’re not afraid to tackle the tough subjects.
Francois: Yeah. On our third record, we were trying to deal with what we were seeing as the rise of Xenophobia that was happening in the United States. We wanted to package it in a way that wasn’t necessarily judgmental. Musically, a way people could still be involved in it and engage without beating you over the head with it. For the forth one, it was definitely about taking a step back and seeing how things, these outer circumstances have changed and shaped us. I think music and art in general has to have at least an element of that introspection or just looking at the world from a different perspective. There is already so much useless sh*t out there. Hopefully, you can add to the positive things.
MR: Some people have a hard time looking at themselves in the mirror. They are not comfortable with who they are in their skin. How important do you think it is to be comfortable with that side of you, the imperfections?
Payam: I would say that in recent years, compared to when we were in High School, being comfortable with who you are, self-identity and the whole coming of age has more of a forum and more acceptance. From what I’ve seen, people are more comfortable with individuality now. Part of it might be social media, seeing how…
MR: Finding like-minded people…
Payam: Yeah…finding like-minded groups and being reinforced that I can express myself in this way or I can dress this way or I can express my sexuality in this way. Obviously, there are a lot of bad things about social media, but at least this is a small sect where it’s a positive thing that gives people the outlet to feel connected.
As society goes on, it’s always going to be a thing for people. It won’t just click for everyone immediately. It might take longer.
Francois: You can’t be kind to others unless you are kind to yourself. It has to start there. If you can’t show an understanding of yourself, and not be so critical all the time, you can’t broadcast that to the rest of the world. I think that is what the world really needs: kindness. It’s sorely lacking, for sure.
MR: I once had an exercise from a conference where I had to look at myself in the mirror and say: I love you over and over again…until you mean it. Eventually, there is a switch that flicks and you feel a rush of this strange emotion and you begin to feel comfortable in your own skin.
Francois: I find loving kindness meditation is very introspective. After a session, I will go out, I find the bigger change is how I then see the world with more patience and compassion. It really does start from within.
MR: Sameer wrote about how “Maya” comes into play in our reality. What is the reality you would like to see in the world today?
Jacob: If everyone could make one individualistic change, it would be to make more conscious purchases. Start to think where you are buying your food from. Is it local?
The biggest issue we are seeing in the world right now is globalization. It’s difficult. How do you deal with refugees? We are in a world that is competing with itself and I think at this point, we need to start locally. We have to make the changes in our immediate surroundings because it gets very daunting when we try to grasp the catastrophic nature of what is going in the world right now. If everyone made a small impact locally, that would undulate to a greater scale.
MR: I like the 100 Mile Diet, where you only buy food within 100 miles from where you live.
Payam: Yeah. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work everywhere. Expanding on that, it’s great that the festival, the catering and everything here is compostable. For the first time, I’m seeing compost and recycle, but no landfill which is really cool. We are all trying to make an individual effort, cutting down on our single use plastics and what now. It would help a lot if people just adopted that mentality.
MR: A little less deep to end it off. What is a song that you feel is an underdog, underappreciated?
Francois: There’s a new song on the record right now. The way we see it, is how the crowd reacts to it. There is one that 60% of the time, it goes over really well, it’s called “Panoramic Girl.” I think it’s a great song. I love playing it, even recording and writing it. It just came together in such an amazing way. If more people gave it a chance, it has a great message to it. Sonically, it works really well.
MR: Thanks so much, have a great festival!
Interview: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His new Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs is coming soon.Share this :