Get to know 2023 Adult Alternative Album of the Year Presented by Long & McQuade Musical Instruments nominee, Altameda in our “7 Questions With” series where we speak with first-time JUNO Award nominees from all genres.
Written in the midst of deep personal tragedy and dramatic emotional upheaval, Altameda’s stunning new album, Born Losers, is a meditation on change, loss, and growth, but more than that, it’s a reckoning with mortality, a call to live while we’re still alive. The music here is more subtle and nuanced than ever before, with raw, candid performances arriving wrapped inside gorgeous, gently atmospheric arrangements, and the lyrics showcase a similar leap in scope and maturity, grappling with our dueling desires for connection and escape through visceral, cinematic imagery that finds meaning in the mundane. Recorded with producer Thomas D’Arcy (Neko Case, The Sheepdogs) and mixed by studio wiz Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Whitney, REM.)
1. How does it feel to be nominated for a JUNO award?
It’s been a wild experience for sure. The outpouring of support and love from our friends and families has been really special. It’s an amazing feeling to be thought of in the same breath as so many iconic Canadian artists and we’re so honoured to be included amongst them.
2. Tell us a bit about your JUNO-nominated project.
Born Losers is the product of a lot of tumultuous experiences and personal tragedies. A few years back, Troy nearly lost his father to a stroke and subsequent coma, only to lose his step-brother in an accident just a few months later. The outfall of that really drove the lyrical content of the album in a big way. Fortunately, Troy’s dad bounced back and is doing great now, but I think those high highs and low lows that life throws at you are something that most listeners can relate to in some way.
The writing of the record was also stopped in its tracks by lockdowns and travel restrictions which bought us some extra time to write and demo a lot more material — and a lot of our favourite songs on the album came out of that window.. So while the record took a lot out of us, bringing it out on the road and sharing it has actually been an incredibly uplifting experience — which makes us all the more grateful to see it recognized with this nomination.
3. What has been the craziest moment of your music career to date?
Like so many artists we had many tours get interrupted in 2020, one of which was a run of shows through North America with the Zombies. Luckily the tour was rescheduled and in 2022 we spent just over three weeks supporting them on the road. It was an incredibly humbling tour to be on and we learned so much watching them every night. Here were these legends of the 1960s who informed so many artists after them, working their asses off night after night and blowing the roof off of every venue we played.
4. What’s your favourite lyric from this project, and why does it resonate with you so much?
This is a hard question to answer but I have a really fond memory of tracking the song “In Time, They Say”, the last song on Born Losers. The line “don’t go wishing your little life away” was an adage that Troy’s grandmother had passed on to him. By the time we were tracking it we had heard the song and that line several times already — as you do when you’re demoing and recording a song over the course of several months. There was a moment I had while listening back to it on our last evening in the studio where I really heard the lyrics for the first time and they all kind of hit me at once. It was so powerful and so simple at the same time and I think the repetition in which it exists in the song, as well as on the record, feels like a nice takeaway after everything that went into getting this record to the finish line.
5. Which Canadian artist would you like to collaborate with and why?
We’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with so many incredible players over the years — especially on this last record. Kacy & Clayton are friends of ours and I think making some music with them would be a lot of fun. Kacy sang on our second record and working with her was really amazing. Also, we saw Le Ren at SXSW this last year and it was an incredible show. Her record Leftovers is amazing and it’d be really cool to have her voice on one of our songs.
6. What would you like music fans to know about you? How would you introduce your music to
new or soon-to-be fans?
We’re both pretty goofy people and if you spent any time on the road with us you’d learn pretty quickly that we love a good bit. We also love meeting new people and have always enjoyed making friends at the merch table.
There’s much to be said for sitting down with a record and digesting it in a completely personal way — allowing fans to hear everything you’ve committed to tape, from the lyrics to just a single hit on a vibraslap (see track 4). That’s how we grew up with our favourite records and that experience continues today. However, we’ve always hoped that our music would reach people on a number of different levels and being able to perform and tour and interact with music fans in that way is an unbeatable feeling. We’ve found so many of our favourite artists over the years by watching them live, picking up a record and getting to experience the performance in both mediums and we’d invite new fans to do the same with us.
7. What’s next for you?
We try to keep the calendar pretty full with touring when we can, but in the meantime we’ll be busy writing the last bit of our next record and we’re hoping to have that done and dusted before the year is out. After that — lather, rinse, repeat.
Tickets for The 2023 JUNO Awards are on sale now! Don’t miss out on an unforgettable night of Canadian music hosted by Simu Liu on March 13.