Technonaut Nathan McKay and folkie Barry James Payne didn’t seem to have a lot in common musically. Or did they?
McKay is an electronic musician, a Street Producer, or as he likes to call it, “a backpack producer.” He creates wherever he feels comfortable deploying the contents of his backpack—microphones, a variety of cables and cords, and a few different devices that he can attach to his DAW (recording studio in a box) on his laptop—in a restaurant, a park, a bar, a coffee shop, the cottage, the country… you get the idea.
Payne is the architect of Americana/Canadiana project String Bone and approaches things a little differently. Ever the brooding songwriter, he most often embraces solitude to craft deeply personal lyrics that tackle subjects ranging from difficult relationships to social injustice. Combining his thought provoking storytelling with classic melody and production, Payne tends to labour until a song is complete before inviting other players in. The two couldn’t be further apart: Acoustic folkie creates alone; electronic musician relies on samples and loops to create amongst a room full of strangers. And yet…
When Payne and McKay found themselves working together in 2012 on the music lineup for a community festival in their hometown of Stratford, Ontario, they quickly developed a mutual respect for each other’s tastes, which ranged from folk, punk and rock to dance, electronic and drum&bass. Many conversations ensued over meals and meetings as they bonded over a combined 60-plus years of making, distributing and promoting music. Naturally, the topic of collaboration came up occasionally, but it took until now for that proposition to finally bear fruit.
They both say that their first session together was magic. Feeding off each other, the energy in the room was dynamic, light, fun, energetic and freeing. Within three hours they had given birth to their first song, “Two Stars Collide,” best described as a folk dance epic. The success of the first session quickly spawned another that was equalling compelling culminating in a Lana Del Rey-inspired dark ballad. More sessions followed and they realized they were closing in on something special – exploring this musical concept: “what if an alt.country artist went to a rave?”, yielding their own take on a Folk-Pop-Electronic hybrid.
To that end the duo are releasing three different mixes of Two Stars Collide, one with a focus on Folk-Pop, the second will be an electronic-dance mix and the third a guitar driven Alt.country jam. Can they all live in the same space? The way people are listening to all kinds of music today, Payne and McKay think they can.
To the pair’s amusement and surprise, they have found themselves thoroughly embracing the thrill of spontaneous creation, allowing them space to play to each other’s strengths, somehow meeting in the middle of two disparate genres. In this room, almost anything goes!