Is music a form of art? Ask the Mapmakers
Music for Mapmakers drummer Shayne Cox really loves music, but recording has altered his perceptions of it.
"After being in the studio, I kind of look at music in a different way," Cox says.
Though the Mapmakers might be perceived as an art band (the artwork on
their EP .02 was created by the group and Bartlett studied art
at the Ontario College of Art and Design), Cox believes that not all music
ends up being art.
"You can put on a CD and it can be amazing like The New Pornographers'
[Mass Romantic]," he says. "I love that album and I
totally overkilled it when I first got it, but I don't know if I would
consider it art. Art, to me, is something you can just feel. Maybe it's
just a matter of opinion or a matter of taste, but, to me art is something
that just grabs ahold of you.
"I own a lot of CDs like Fleetwood Mac and shit that I just love it's so enjoyable. But then there's the stuff that really knocks me on my ass."
Last year, the Mapmakers consisting of Cox, lead vocalist Myles
Bartlett, guitarist Derek Ma and bassist Neil Haverly released
their diverse .02 EP on Grenadine Records. The CD features slow-burning
rockers alongside delicate acoustic numbers and instrumentals and, although
reactions to the music were mostly positive, there were some minor criticisms.
"One review said we lacked direction and I guess I can understand that," says Cox. "Our first disc is schizophrenic. We all share in the writing and I guess that's what makes us us we each put our stamp on the music."
Many reviewers also tended to liken .02's epic intensity to a
certain acclaimed U.K. band. "Myles does have a kind of [Radiohead
vocalist] Thom Yorke-esque sound sometimes," Cox notes.
Although each of the Mapmakers' interests range from visual art, film and literature, to jazz and math rock, Cox says the songs on the full-length record they've been working on (due out in the new year) will relate to each other a bit more.
"The new disc has a oneness to it and a lot of it is written in the studio," he explains. "It's kind of off-the-cuff, but we come up with some of our best stuff when we improvise."
Cox's fondness of improvisation might also come from his experiences with jazz and experimental music; he's been working in the jazz department at the music store HMV for three years.
"I was becoming so sick of [popular] music that I didn't want to search for it anymore," says Cox, "and then I went up there [to the jazz section] and was just blown away."
The band's interest in creating musical soundscapes links the Mapmakers to shoegazing, a label given to late-'80s/early-'90s U.K. rock bands who primarily stared at the floor as they played their instruments. But this is not exactly the case for the Mapmakers.
"I think Myles shoegazes a bit and Derek for sure," says Cox, "but then you have Neil, who jumps around... and me, really jaunty behind the drums. Myles is almost at a standstill, like a pillar keeping everything together, and Derek just wags his arms really fast everyone's doing something so different from each other. I'd like to see what we look like onstage."
Music for Mapmakers play The Gravity Club on Oct. 10 with Alexis O'Hara.
Tickets are $5 and doors open at 8 p.m..