- G.D. Burns
Local band Youth may be impossible to Google, but discovering them is well worth making your search cache look like that of a pedophile's. The local quartet of Maggie Morris, Elec Morin, Stephen Leisy, and Matthew Hall hasn't been around long but they've made big moves fast, playing at some of the best venues around town and gaining a reputation for crafting subtly gratifying pop melodies without any of the shrouded pretense attributed to our city's recent influx of dream pop bands. Youth appear to have only three publicly available tracks, but the strength of those tracks has more than warranted our attention. We just had to know more about this band.
END HITS: Can you tell me about the formation of Youth?
YOUTH: Youth began as a recording project between Stephen Leisy (drums) and Elec Morin (guitar/vocals) in early 2010. As the songs progressed we decided we would need more members to fill out the sound. Elec knew Maggie Morris (guitarist, songwriter, vocalist) from a tour they had gone on together in 2007. He asked her to join and the core of Youth was set. A number of friends have filled the role of bassist until completing the lineup with friend Matthew Hall.
What's the story behind the band name?
We like the simplicity of the name; it was a quick choice and we enjoyed the idea of youth. Elec had made it a habit of writing “youth changed us” places, wanting to use it as a record title but broke it down to Youth.
What's your favorite music right now? Are there any artists that you would cite as particularly influential?
Collectively we have an eclectic taste in music, and are constantly turning each other on to new bands. Pavement, The Beach Boys... the group of artists on the Woodsist Record label are a really exciting group of musicians, and Beulah.
Your first release is a double A-side single. Why did you choose to put it out in this format?
Well originally we the thought the double A-side single approach would be an exciting and quick way to write and release our songs; it was thought up while we were between bassists so it was an easy way for us to write new songs with Stephen and Elec fitting in on bass. We decided to abandon this idea, however, to record a full-length with a producer because people have displayed interest. I think the singles idea was good in theory but two songs at a time isn’t as fulfilling to the listener as a full-length—also the quality will be able to expand.
How are your new songs different from your recorded material, and what are you hoping to achieve by collaborating with a producer for the first time?
Our new songs are more dynamic than some of our early recorded material. It differs from song to song but one of Maggie's new songs is a darker more dreamy/psychedelic feel, while Elec's newest one is an upbeat washed-out verse-chorus type song. Basically it differs depending on who brings in the songs and how the other members help mold it. Our biggest reason we would like to collaborate with a producer is that it will bring in a new set of ears to the songwriting process. It will be exciting to see how our songs evolve in the actual recording time. We are all multi-instrumentalists and have ideas for the songs that we can't necessarily do live, like dragging around a piano. It will be nice to have somebody helping us with this because none of us are necessarily recording savvy and we want to make sure the songs sound as good on record as they do in our head.
What is your writing process like?
So far either Maggie or Elec bring in songs to practice and then they evolve as everyone adds parts. This process goes everywhere from a whole song to a single part where other members contribute a verse or a chourus. As we continue to grow all the members of Youth will be bringing in songs to build upon.
Do you notice a difference between your live performances and recorded material?
Yes, we feel that currently our live sets have become progressively better and more energetic; especially with the nicer venues we have recently been playing, with the sound systems and being able to hear ourselves. Our early recordings are pretty lo-fi and with the home recordings it is harder to portray the energy and levels of our music.
What has been your favorite Youth show?
We have had a lot of favorite shows. Recently we played a great set at Bunk Bar with Blouse. Also, we have had a number of good shows at Mississippi Studios. They have an amazing sound system and know how to treat bands. Also on our tour through California over Spring Break we had a lot of fun in San Luis Obispo at a house show. It probably sounded horrible but the crowd was so excited and we were as well, it was a beautiful mess.
What other Portland bands are you psyched about?
We’re really excited for our friends Typhoon for all the attention surrounding them and the great music they are putting out. We are also really stoked on Forest Park and Paper Brain.
What can we expect from Youth for the rest of the year?
We are going to focus our attention on recording our first full-length with help from a producer, also continue evolving our sound, and playing good shows.
What am I missing here? What is Youth really all about? Why is this band important to you and what do you want to get out of it?
It’s a great creative outlet, it’s an amazing feeling to collaborate with your best friends and come up with something way better than you could on your own. Music is our favorite thing.
Haven't heard Youth yet? Have a taste of "Everything", an understated dream pop/C86 gem.
Youth - "Everything"