Logan McCarthy - 10 Questions Music Interview
The 2010s saw the growing popularity behind chill-wave and other down-tempo forms of electronic music online. Logan McCarthy, a Massachusetts based recording artist and longtime YouTuber, fuses what he has learned from the lo-fi and chill-hop scenes with more conventional rock-pop song structures to find nostalgic and unique tunes.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I was a huge Coldplay nut in high school, but I actually took an interest in singing from hearing Prince Poppycock's crazy operas on America's Got Talent. He can be as outlandish as he wants to be, the guy was is talented. I used to practice Con te partirò in my brother's room when he wasn't there, but of course I was terrible. Chris Martin's voice is raw, loose, and personal, sometimes goofy, often times beautiful. A lot of other singers to me sounded polished and trained, but his sounded easy and natural. I aspired to be like him, almost to the point of impersonation. In those old 2011 tracks on my YouTube channel, I think it's pretty easy to hear. I've since found my own voice, but I still try to put on my best Martin impressions when covering Coldplay because it brings me so much joy.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Aside from forgetting how to play the middle part of This Grand Old Flag in second grade, Fox 25 once ran a televised college tour, and I was asked by the head of marketing at SNHU to perform on national TV. But I caught a nasty cold that transformed my throat into a rubber chicken, and one of the midnight janitors was kind enough to drive me to a 24-hour pharmacy. It's a lot easier for me to play in front of strangers, so playing in front of my peers (and news cameras) made that the most nerve-wracking show ever. I forgot the middle part of that song, too, but I improvised well. They used about ten seconds of my performance as a commercial segway, which made me laugh. Dunkin' Donuts was a sponsor, and they gave me a free sign. I still have it in my bedroom.
What has been the high point of your music path?
Last year I got to play a show at Majolica Bamboo, a homey rock venue in rural Nakatsugawa, Japan. It was the first show where I could practice my Japanese before a live audience, and it felt a lot more natural, fun, and real than I thought it would be. Rock is still very much alive in Japan, and the musicians here put a lot of spirit into their music. I'm hoping to play some shows up in Nagoya soon.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Kurt Cobain didn't often concern himself with his lyrical content. He was much more interested in the sound of the music. That resonates with me and how I approach music. If I'm stuck on words, I'll either scat into the mic, loop a verse, or go on one of my patented power walks (thinkathons!). When making an album, I throw finished drafts next to each other on an iTunes playlist and shuffle them around to see what songs sound good around them. It's only near the end of production that I start focusing on any momentum gaps between songs. This helps me to focus on the musicality of songs over worrying about maintaining flow.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
Finding what is most unique about your sound and shaping it into its best form. It's so easy to fall into the same habits, chord changes, recording techniques that it's easy to lose sight of what it means to evolve as an artist. That's what set Bowie apart from everyone else. He was the Chameleon of Modern Music. There's always a way to put a new spin on things, and it takes patience and experience to figure out how to make it happen.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Coldplay because I named my instruments after them and want them to meet each other. I can't promise they'd be thrilled, but maybe it would give them a laugh. When I was in high school, the juniors had a paper jogger named Logan. It was named after Wolverine, but I was still pretty pumped.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
I sing up and down the scale with an added note at the end of each octave. Then I hit CEGC with my lips buzzing and scale up and down from there (it helps with pronunciation). If I'm jittery before a show, I ask someone to slap me clear across the face. My friend once did that to me before a talent show, and it was the cure I didn't know I needed.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
Katy Callie Romanov is an awful song about a girl with a crazy long name, and trying to time when to breathe is constantly a mental workout. If that one wasn't the greatest challenge, then it was probably Working on Excuses. I wasn't emotionally invested in the song, but it was fun-sounding. I spent a lot of time on figuring out the theme. To most people the song probably represents someone who has bad priorities, or who can't be responsible enough to pull up their end in things, but to me it actually describes a sportscaster complaining about how all the New York teams are tanking.
What's coming up in the future? I wanted to improve on my first solely-chillhop album, the Montage LP, to make a more relaxed, background sound, which came in the form of this year's Bike Ride LP. I felt I hit the marks I wanted to achieve, so I was super happy with it. Right now I'm exploring a more danceable genre in future funk, and seeing what I can bring to the table.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
I've been YouTubing since 2009! https://www.youtube.com/user/Paradoxwidget. A lot of songs, especially covers and unreleased stuff, goes up there. I have lots of creative hobbies, so if you're looking for a more concentrated lens, you can visit my website at loganmccarthy.org. Just
remember to leave the light on.
Logan McCarthy's holiday/New Year's song, "Thr Wind In The Trees," will be airing on National Indie Radio (WNIR) commencing December 1st through December 31st as part of BWH Music Group’s Holiday Radio Show. WNIR features the best independent artists in the world and is part of the highly selective and nationally renowned BWH Music Group platform. The Holiday Radio Special will feature original holiday songs as well as covers by exceptional independent artists. Station information can be found at National Indie Radio’s website.