Michael Rault is a singer-songwriter from Edmonton, Alberta whose music is heavily indebted to the psych-pop of the '60s and '70s. His new single, “Sleep With Me,” showcases his penchant for the sun-splashed melodies and woozy guitar licks that dominated late-20th century counterculture and its descendants (The Olivia Tremor Control, Tame Impala, et al.). As the song bounces toward its end, Rault introduces a string section—first a rumbling cello, then a light and airy violin—that elevates the sound into the perfect encapsulation of a summer day. The music video, too, combines grainy film stock and DIY collage techniques to form a fitting homage to the nostalgic, washed-out colors of the era. You can catch Micahel Rault tonight at Alphaville with BOYTOY and Baby Jay.
Adhoc: There’s a lot of '60s and '70s-style psych and pop in your sound. What draws you to that kind of music?
Michael Rault: Well, I'm a guitar player and I was raised by a family of musicians who came up playing in bands throughout the '60s and ;70s. So, just by the nature of my background and the instrument I was originally drawn to as a young kid, I was naturally predisposed to the sounds of the '60s and '70s. Being a guitar player in 2017 almost immediately marks you as a retro artist, it seems. I'm also a fan of live music, the and live feel, and I tend to spend more time playing instruments than I do messing around with my computer software, just because I enjoy it more as a way to pass the time. So, I think that the methods I'm attracted to and have become well-versed in automatically put me into a similar space to where artists from the '60s and '70s were coming from. As far as the psychedelic element goes, I think I am interested in surrealism and fantasy in a lot of different forms, so it comes out in my music in different ways.
Are there any influences/musicians you’re listening to that would surprise fans?
Maybe? I'm not too sure what would be surprising, but I listen to a lot of different music. I was really deep into Alice Coltrane's Universal Concioussness album for large parts of this past year. I also have been obsessed with the first four 10cc albums lately. I suppose I generally am drawing inspiration from the roots and offshoots of early 20th century American music, but I'm not as constrained by particular decades or genres as people might think.
How did growing up in Edmonton affect your taste and style of music? What was the music scene like when you were growing up?
It had a profound affect on me, as I think living anywhere for 21 years would have on anyone. As I mentioned earlier, I am from a musical family, and a lot of my relatives and family friends were very active in the music and arts scene in Edmonton. A byproduct of that was that I grew up as childhood friends with a lot of people who were raised by artistic families that knew my family. In recent years, a bunch of those friends have become world-renowned musicians in their own right, and that whole experience has been really cool. It's been great seeing people I came up with get recognized for their immense talents. Musicians like Mac Demarco; Peter Sagar, aka Homeshake; and Renny Wilson, amongst others, were all figuring out their sounds and learning how to do this thing alongside me. It was a fun time to grow up, and it is nice to look back on it now.
Congrats on signing with Wick Records. You’re working on new music, can you tell us more about that process?
Thank you! I'm very excited to get to announce that news. I've been working on a new album at Daptone studios in Bushwick for the past year and some time. After the first little bit of working there without a label in mind for the release, it became clear that Daptone and Wick were excited to be involved with me and the album in a more substantial way, and I couldn't have been more thrilled about it. The opportunity to work on tape, and to utilize their team and their skillsets, really opened up a bunch of doors in my creative process that were previously closed and locked off to me. Wayne Gordon, one of the cofounders of Wick, was my engineer and coproducer, and the other cofounder, Mikey Post, was half of my rhythm section that I used to track the record. It's a family vibe, and it's a very talented and inspiring family to be part of. The same goes for the Daptone crew, too—both Gabe Roth and Neal Sugarman and everyone else at the label were very supportive and insightful throughout the process. Gabe helped us finish our string arrangements and mixes on the album, and Neal offered a lot of great advice and almost played saxophone on a song, but that didn't quite materialize. I'm hoping we can get him on the next one, though.
Who are some Canadian bands that should be on our radar?
Darlene Shrugg is sick. I really dig them. I've been meaning to dig deeper into that album they just released, but the tracks I have given full attention to are really mindblowing.
Say we stepped into an alternate reality and came across a version of you that wasn’t a musician. What do you think he would be doing?
That is a tough one. When I was really young, I thought I wanted to be a writer, because I enjoyed creative writing in school, and I was obsessed with J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings...haha. But honestly, if I wasn't a bandleader/solo musician, I would probably just be a songwriter/producer, behind-the-scenes guy. Or a hockey player, if I had a much better build for athletics.