By James Keller
Technology shapes music, giving it styles and sounds unavailable in the past while making music production more accessible to the indie artist.
According to Pariah Project vocalist and Vancouver resident Taryn Laronge, this change is partly responsible for both the group’s down-tempo, electronic sound and their current position within the industry.
"Everything’s moving to an electronic realm," begins Laronge of the current popular music scene. "You create music on computers now. It’s not organic bands anymore."
The band’s venture into the electronic side of the business isn’t limited to their sound. "Reena," from their first EP Desolation, is currently featured on the CBC Web site 120seconds.com. Along with the accompanying flash animation, the song attempts to tell the story of 14-year-old Reena Virk, the teen violently murdered in Saanich, B.C. in 1997.
The presence of the song on the Web site, along with the content itself, garnered a lot of attention for The Pariah Project leading up to the release of their CD earlier this month. However, they’re handling this much differently than many bands trying to break into the scene.
"We’re going to approach this whole process the way Belle and Sebastian did," says Laronge, adding that they won’t be touring anytime soon to support the three-song disc. "We’re going to put out multiple EPs and then either remain independent or sign to a label at that point."
Laronge points out that the decision is more of an economic one than anything else. Approaching their careers from this direction gives them the advantage of personal control, while freeing them from costs typically associated with this type of venture.
"Nowadays, everything’s done on computer and you can basically record an album in your living room," comments Laronge. "The EPs are more economical because although you might have your own equipment, you still have to get them mixed. This way, we can save the money, pay the money for the mixing and start writing again."
Laronge puts the cost of mixing a single song at $1,000, something that would definitely hinder efforts to create a full-sized album. However, two more EPs are expected in the coming year, including a World Trade Organization theme song on the third disc of the series.
"We’re going to do some sort of anti-WTO song just before the next big meeting in November of next year," she says, drawing parallels from the hard themes found on both "Reena" and upcoming material like this. "It makes it easier. If you have it in an art form,
people can make some sort of sense of it."
Laronge attempts to do this through her music. "Reena" features news clips recalling the facts around Reena Virk’s death. The group was comfortable including them, as they tried to keep the clips as objective as possible by focusing on factual details only.
"News is quite factual a day later," says Laronge about the clips used. "Years later, the coverage was going to be quite objective and we knew that."
And although the coverage tried to be unbiased, there is a clear message from the group that certainly isn’t: a bias condemning the attacks against Virk. However, Laronge still thinks these statements are somewhat objective. While lyrics like "Reena they’ll pay" certainly criticize the actions of the killers, Laronge thinks this issue is much more universal.
"I still think it’s objective because in my mind, it’s not being unobjective to say that killing someone is a bad thing."