Cory Myraas, also known as Windmills, is a one-man band from British Columbia, Canada. He opened up with me during this interview about his fast moving career, music writing and his hopes for the future.
Windmills released his first EP Keep Moving back in 2012 and after three years his debut album Measures is finally upon us. His first works are very folk-rooted but his style is in constant change. He made a transaction from ambient folk to experimental pop, passing through post-rock, indie and straight pop more recently.
Even himself cannot completely describe the genre of music he plays, “90% of the time I refer to my own music as noises and sounds. Sometimes they fit into certain genres better than others and sometimes I honestly have no idea how to classify them. I look at that as a challenge to constantly grow as an artist.”
With two EPs out and a new ten tracks, full-length album Windmills feels extremely lucky with the opportunities he has been given in the past few years. He thinks he may have “a bit too much luck” considering that he had never thought of music before turning 18. “When I was little and Jurassic Park came out I really wanted to be a paleontologist like 500% of the human population that year. I didn’t play music until I taught myself guitar at 17 or 18, but never with the idea of becoming a musician or a performer.”
When I had the chance to see him opening for Andrew Allen at a Christmas gig in Vernon, Canada he seemed pretty nervous tripping on chords and unable to finish his speech. His attitude, though, was almost fascinating. How can someone so clumsy do magic with a loop pedal? I was curious to know how he handled his first ever performance. “I was a nervous wreck! I wore a stupid vest and played five songs: Great Divide, Salt, Fire, We’ll Be Alone and another one that I can’t even remember what it was called. It never made it past those first shows…”
He was shocked at the response he had from the audience, he admits. It was a bizarre new way to perform for his Canadian audience. He was completely alone on stage, singing and playing lots of music with just an instrument at his feet. Cory was surprised people actually paid attention to what he was doing there. “After my set I had a bunch of people asking if I had albums or recordings to sell them. Unbelievable. It was a great boost.”
Before deciding to play as a one-man band as a “loop artist”, Cory was in a band he formed with a couple of high school friends. When during the summer after graduation the group suddenly broke up, he was caught completely off guard and stopped thinking about music for six months. “Finally it got to the point where I was frustrated with the lack of creativity so I challenged myself to attempt to loop and write new music. Those months of withheld creative energy resulted in five new songs over the course of four days.”
John Frusciante is the man who inspired him to first hold a guitar and Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s album Californication is what gave him the confidence to start singing for the first time. Among his inspirations there are Jeff Buckley and Brian Eno. More recently the albums he has been spinning the most are Zaba by Glass Animals, every record by Fyfe and Bombay’s Bicycle’s Club’s latest work.
“I get too excited trying to list the differences my new album has compared to my previous works but I feel like it is way ahead of them.” There are drums, proper bass lines, synth, piano and new percussion elements that have never been on his early tracks. “Musically the songs sound like ‘full band’ creations. At its core the album, and the songs are all still my trademark Windmills style but I’ve expanded them and pushed myself to take them to a whole new level.”
All the music writing for him happens rigorously in his house. “I’m extremely fortunate to have a little jam space I built years back that has turned into my writing retreat. There’s been countless hours spent in there very early in the morning or late at night, guitar and wine in tow where all my songs have been born.” Cory explains that he writes music in a completely backwards manner. He often channels the opposite emotions into his music compared to how he is actually feeling, “I’ve written some of my saddest songs during my happiest times and vice versa.”
The themes for his songs come mostly from his “ever-changing, ridiculous, and often reckless life” but the power of language is what really inspires him to write. “Language, the stories we tell ourselves alongside the stories we keep hidden and the way we choose to express certain things almost fascinates me. There is so much hidden within the margins. Nine times out of ten I’m probably pretty transparent with how I present certain things but I love the play and the freedom that comes from it.” He always tries to express emotions or memories in such a way that he is never referencing only to one particular event.
2015 seemed a great year for the Kelowna based artist. Lots of local gigs, many festivals in the summer, an insane cross-Canada tour with fellow musician Mark Mills and his much anticipated full album release
Windmills’ local music scene is at its brightest at the moment. There are a ton of local bands rising and a lot more local venues opening up in the Okanagan Valley. The coast is vibrant as ever as well as the islands around.
Even though it’s such a promising area to play in, I still had to ask him if he would consider the idea of packing a suitcase and brining his music across the ocean. “It’s been one of my dreams to be able to tour in Europe. I have just noticed that I have been listening to a lot of UK music lately; maybe it’s my mind and ears secretly telling me to get over there.” Unfortunately his European fans may have to wait a little bit longer. “I have been itching to get out of North America for a while now. I am hoping the next two years will play a large part in getting me oversea.”
“Big things are on their way, and as I always say, Windmills keep moving.”
Words by Giovanna Paglino
Photo credits: Joshua Jerrid