Canadian singer-songwriter Matt Epp’s latest album, his second with The Amorian Assembly, exists because fans want it to exist.
Their album, Learning To Lose Control, is the result of a crowd-funding campaign in spring 2012 through the website Kapipal — a money collection site similar to the more well known Indiegogo and Kickstarter — where fans could pre-purchase their album and various levels of bonus material for larger donations.
“I was extremely humbled and encouraged by that experience,” Matt Epp says. “We, the band, our community’s listeners, our audience and our fans raised $20,000.”
Epp did not only want to raise enough money to produce the album but to increase community involvement in the record.
“I wanted to give people another reason to be more invested in it,” Epp says, “so that when it actually came out they would look to their friends and say ‘Look what I was a part of. They couldn’t have made that record if I hadn’t been a part of that.’ Then it’s theirs too.”
Epp says that crowdfunding is a good solution for them. The bands get to retain full rights to their work and see the full amount from their album sales while avoiding the need to obtain bank loans or incur credit card debit while working in a rapidly changing and uncertain industry.
“It allows a band like us to survive long into the future,” Epp says.
Epp and The Amorian Assembly aren’t new to the benefits of crowdfunding — they ran a smaller crowdfunding initiative for their first album together, At Dawn, released in April 2011.
“We did it very quietly on the first album through our newsletter. We set up our own crowdfunding page on our webpage and appealed to our existing fans,” Epp says.
The money for the first album helped pay for time in the studio. This time they wanted to make it a very public endeavour.
Epp says by putting it on a site like Kapipal the fundraising felt more legitimate, which involved more people.
For Epp and his band, everything has fallen into place with a kind of providence over the last couple years. The Winnipeg-born artist had produced four solo albums before putting together The Amorian Assembly in 2010 after meeting bass player Joel Couture in Winnipeg and Antonio Lomas during a trip to Spain.
“I thought if I could get those two guys together as a rhythm section I’d have the world’s best group,” Epp says.
After appearing on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Backstage Pass in May 2011 Epp received an email from Serena Ryder, who had seen the short interview segment in front of a couple of movies, saying that she liked his sound and they should meet.
“I said, sort of in a cheeky way, that I’m going to be in California next week if [she] wanted to go write songs and she’s like ‘Shut up, I’m going to be in California next week!’ ” Ryder was in Los Angeles writing for her new record and Epp was meeting with producer Jamie Candiloro, whom the band ended up working with on the album. They met up and collaborated on the song “When You Know,” which is a duet with Ryder that appears on Learning To Lose Control.
This year, Epp put together a video of him covering the song “Unuttun Mu Beni” by famous Turkish singer-songwriter Sezen Aksu for Toronto’s Musideum. When he attended her concert at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in March he got called up on stage to sing with her.
Through his career, Epp says his tastes and the sound of his music haven’t changed too much, though they now include Couture and Lomas’s propensity for rock. However, they have changed their approach to songwriting since the first The Amorian Assembly album.
Epp explained that their first record together was a piece of art on its own that didn’t necessarily translate well to the stage — Epp points to a lengthy rock song from their first album which they collaborated with the Weber Brothers on.
“I think in that way we were a lot more aware of it,” Epp says of the new album. “This record we can play all of the tracks on the stage. We can give it more life when we bring it live.”
Learning To Lose Control is available June 4.
Epp and The Amorian Assembly are touring Canada throughout June and will be playing at the Ironwood in Calgary on June 6.